New Years Day in Ecuador. It was a great day! Pablo arrived at the apartment at 9:30am with our driver Nicholas. We planned a trip up to Cotopaxi National Park. I have been looking forward to this day for a long time! Quito sits at almost 10,000 feet. When the weather is good you can easily reach 16,000 feet at Cotopaxi. I have never been that high on dry land!!! (only in a plane of course) We bundled up & headed to high ground!!
Pablo was awesome! He was a great guide! It took well over an hour to drive through the Avenue of the Volcanoes. The day was only partly cloudy & at times we could see the tops of so many different volcanoes, it was really cool! We worked our way up to Cotopaxi and eventually made it over 13,400 feet. It was drizzly, which made the roads wet, and then it turned to snow. Not ideal on dirt roads in a mini van. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get to 16,000 feet, but it was still a beautiful trip and 13,400 feels mighty high when you are trekking around in freezing rain!
When we got to our highest point, the driver turned around in the road. It was muddy, but the worst that could happen is that we would slide into a ditch. There weren’t any massive drop offs, cliffs, or lakes to fall into. But the driver & Pablo were a bit concerned. We told him stories of our adventures in Colorado & Moab in Razors. This was not scary, but it was entertaining! Pablo told us he liked taking Americans on tour, they like adventure! I can only assume the lone taxi we found up there was also full of Americans. LOL!
We took a short walk at a glacier lake, I bought a warm alpaca hat that was hand made by one of the local ladies, we saw a tree that grows a couple centimeters a year so although it was small, it was over 100 years old, and the volcano was amazing. Before going up towards the top, we stopped at the tourist center for some traditional tea. It is supposed to keep you from getting altitude sickness. It was good! We caught a few quick peeks at the top between the clouds once we got up high!
On the way back, at the toll booth we saw people selling giant pieces of pork rinds for the tuck drivers to snack on, I couldn’t bring myself to try one. But – Shawn had a yummy soup of pork tongue, a giant whole potato, and who knows what else. My cheesy potato soup was magnificent! Lunch was good & we loved the hidden local spot our guide found for us! Dinner was a relatively substandard hot dog & potato chip combo. We bought the items yesterday since we heard everything would be closed on New Years Day. Not our best supper ever, but we had good company, good stories & we created more great memories!
We are starting the new year off with our South American adventure!!! The ride begins Jan. 2!