Monday, July 7, 2008

Laguna Quilotoa - July 6

On Sunday, I went to the crater lake called Laguna Quilotoa. It was a 4 hour trip to the lake through the western mountains and really poor indigenous villiages. I went with 2 guides and a man named Alex from Mexico City. Alex had spent 4 years on a mission (catholic) in Bolivia, where he learned the language of the indigenous people, Quechua. So he speakes Spanish, English, Quechua. I found him to be interesting and admirable. He and I shared a kayak, with a hole or more than one, and we both left the laguna with wet bums. I also realized that his tradition with ¨ron¨ really makes sense before climbing. ¡Salud!

The laguna is about the same altitude as Quito, but we had to descend about 500 meters from the summit down to the lake. There is lots of sand and dust going down....and oh yea, it is still there when you ascend. Think walking on the beach only going a sharp degree. In between thinking that my heart was going to explode, I realized again why I hate the stair step machines at the gym. This experience was kinda the same...only worse. The top of the summit has a group of indigenous people selling warm clothes because it is cold up there. BUT when you descend it was a sunny day and I was sweating near the lake. It is a great business tactic...really!

Nothing lives in this lake and it is full of salts. The sheep like it alot though, for the salt in the water. There are kids that take donkeys up and down many times each day, carrying gringos like me up the summit. However, some girls were riding when we were descending and they told us that the donkeys were not comfortable and they wished they had walked...these girls were obviously deranged in the head. I wished so many times for the donkey. :) Apparently the indigenous people drive their sheep, goats and llamas down to the lake and back up every day. These young girls were in better shape than about anyone I know. Keep in mind too that I have been walking miles and miles everyday since I arrived...this climb was tough and I have reconsidered my thoughts about climbing a real mountain. I am not in the shape for that!!!

All in all it was an amazing day. We ate at a nice restaurant, I tried habas which are really good as chips and had an intersting dish of a thin steak, with two eggs over easy on top, rice (of course), avacado, slice of tomato, and papas fritas (steak fries). While it went down smooth with

Coke Zero (plug), I had a mocachino (insert real coffee like a latte) after dinner and wow, I was in heaven. Unfortunately, the family that I live with is TOO nice and started making me dinner as soon as I arrived. When I realized what was going on I tried to get out of it, but was only able to reduce the meal by one bowl of soup. I guess I may have gained a pound through over eating yesterday. :)

Finally the picture of the mountain sticking out is the mountain La Corazón (Heart) and gets it name from the shape wish is kind of like a heart. There is an expression of a person who is hard hearted that they are like the rock of La Corazón. I hear that it is easy to summit, but I think that I will wait until next time. :)

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