Quilotoa - the town
Friday after class I took off with Maureen to Quilotoa, a volcanic crater with a lake about 4 hours south of Quito. Because we learned from our trip to Baños that to go from our houses in northern Quito to the terminal terrestre in south Quito, where we catch buses it cost about $10 by taxi, so we decided on taking the Trole, a 25 cent fare. We took a two hours bus to Latacunga where we called Jess, Anina and Emily because we were going the meet them in Chugchilan, (they had skipped class and left early that morning) but without luck/lack of cellphone service, we decided to catch a bus to Quilotoa, another 2 hour ride. On the buss to Quilotoa we had to stand up for about 1.5 hrs and unfortunately I lost my glasses during this time period, either someone stole them from my backpack, or the fell out, the latter being the least likely.
When we arrived to Quilotoa, a tiny town with seriously about a total of 15 houses, we went directly to the first hostel we saw (not that there was much to choose from). There we met a 25 year old med student named Emily, from none other than Glendale, AZ, who had come alone and wanted to know if we wanted to stay with her, and of course we said yes.
It was about 8:30 p.m. and neither Maureen or I had eaten since lunch so we were starving. We asked where we could get food but the hostel worker told us everything was closed and we wouldn't be able to get anything at this time of the night. Luckily, we spotted a little house with a light on where an indigenous man was painting masks. We knocked on his door and asked him if he knew where we could get food. He told us everything was closed but that he would wake up his wife and she would cook for us. He called his kids who gave us tea then his wife who made us delicious rice and potato soup with a main dish of more potatoes and avocado. Soo many potatoes but soo good.
The next morning we woke up, ate breakfast and caught a truck going to a little town called Zumbahua (or refered to as Zimbabwe by Emily, who's Spanish wasn't great)where they were having a market that morning. It had been a very cold night (the only thing that made me survive was the 2 pairs of sweats I was wearing, the four blankets I had on top of me, and the fact that I slept with Maureen) and it was a very cold ride to Zumbahua. On our way there we picked up many local people from the little towns we passed who were also going to the market.
En el mercado they had all kinds of traditional clothes and shoes for the local people as well as many kinds of meats, veggies, and fruits, but the most interesting thing we saw was a lamb being skinned. We didn't get to see when they killed it, but we saw it's head being chopped up then a man taking off all of its skin, as well as all of its insides out. Gross, but cool! After quite the spectacle, we decided to walk back through some of the little towns we had driven through to take pictures of the amazing countryside. Then after having walked quite a bit we hitched a ride back to Quilotoa.
Quilotoa - the crater
In Quilotoa we ate a light lunch because neither Emily or I wanted to eat meat after what we had just witnessed. We then went to see the crater, which was beautiful. We decided to hike all the way to the bottom to take a closer look. After about an hours walk down the ashy volcano, we got to see the laguna from down below. The view was magnificent. After sitting down and contemplating such beauty, and seeing how far and steep we had come down, we decided to ride mules back up to the top. It was a nonstop cursing trip since the guide kept telling the mules to go faster "caramba macho, chingado, carajo"...it was hilarious, and even more hilarious was Emily's attempt to try and repeat the words to get her mule going.
When we got back to our hostel we decided we did not want to stay in Quilotoa for the night again because there really was not much else we could do. We caught a truck back to Zumbahua with these two funny Dutch girls who ended paying 4 times as much for the trip than we did. (In Ecuador you really have to make sure to establish prices of taxis/trucks/buses before you get on or else they will charge you so much more in the end.) After being distracted by these three hilarious men getting drunk off of liquor in a Sprite bottle, we ran to catch a bus that was leaving for Latacunga. It was a bit of a tough ride at the beginning because I kept being hit on by a random old drunken men who kept poking me and asking/telling me the same things over an over, and over again. It wasn't until I pretended to fall asleep that he left me alone.
In Latacunga we got a $4 hostel room at the very top of a building, penthouse baby! Haha, only with hard beds and barely any hot water. We went out to eat dinner at a pizzeria but not before crashing a wedding with a really pretty bride and groom, and very attractive men in Ecuadorian army suits. We then went out to La Ciguarra, the best bar ever! Well a cool bar with the best bartender ever. He gave us wine with coke to start off with, aparrantly it's a popular Spanish drink, then candil (popcorn) then brought us the drinks we wanted. Then, when sketchy, and mostly drunken, guys came over to hit on us, he would come and take them away, ever so kindly. Rodrigo was so awesome! He even told us that the whole situation was TORTUGA! I couldn't believe he knew about tortuga situations! (Tortuga is what we call awkward situations because the word for awkward, "torpe," just doesn't do it, and totuga obv simbolizes the awkward tutle). All of us had crushes on him because he was just so cool.
Here I was also hit on by some Ecuadorian guy who after realizing I was singing to Mana bought me some beer "en el nombre de Mana, porque son los mejores." He said he had studied ecology and was a professor at various tecnologicos around Latacunga, thus why he loved Mana. (The entire time all I could think of was how cool Emily would think this was, right? haha). He also was the first to tell me that Mana is coming to Quito next month!! It was a completely random and cool night.
Domingo de Ramos
On Sunday we met up with John, one of Maureen's friends in the Peace Corps for breakfast. After having talked to him about his experience, it only makes me want to be in the Peace Corps after college even more than before. As we walked out of the restaurant to go to Mass we saw a huge crowd of people carrying all kinds of palm ornaments to Mass. We had forgotten, it was Palm Sunday. Mass was really nice. There was a sort of vocal performance put on telling the story of Jesus going to meet his death and there was also great music.
As us' another great weekend in Ecuador.