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another day on the road


View Ecuador & Galapagos ... me gusta mucho! - 2015 on Ils1976's travel map.

Amazingly enough, I only woke up once in the middle of the night because of the usual itches, but as I surprisingly enough am getting used to it, I can without a doubt say that I had a fair night!

Today, we were going to be another day on the road, but of course not without the usual 1 or 2 stops along the way and the first stop of the morning, after saying goodbye to the friendly staff of Inti Sisa, was actually the “highlight" of the day as well, as we were going to do a short hike up the mountain Chimborazo. With its 6310 meters, it has the highest peak in Ecuador and another interesting fact is that its location along the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the earth’s surface from the earth’s center … pretty cool, when you come to think about it. I guess we must have been on the road for about 2 hours, when we finally reached the entrance of the National Park. Not that the distance between Guamote and the Chimborazo was that big, but along the way we made more than a few photo stops just because the view on the mountain was that amazing. I don’t exactly know what it is with this mountain, but I just kept on looking at it and although I am not a real mountain specialist, to me, it was one of the most beautiful ones I had ever seen. 

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After a quick “technical stop” at the beautiful stone entrance, I hurried back to the bus like my ass was on fire … it was just that cold and with the constant wind blowing, it felt like my hands and feet were turning into popsicles.

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At an altitude of about 4000 meters is was already pretty cold and we still needed to climb up to 4800 meters before we even began our short morning walk of which I was sure, was going to be a tough one!

There are many routes up the slopes of the mountain, a few ones even involve some mixed rock/ice climbing, but since our group and me included, aren’t exactly experienced rock climbers, we just drove our bus up the mountain, till we reached the first refuge called Carrel at an altitude of 4800 meters.

Since this refuge was going to be our starting point, we made sure we were well prepared for this very short but strenuous hike up a mountain at a very high altitude. Besides loads of layers of clothing, we bought some yummy Ecuadorian chocolate and together with a good spirit, I was more than ready for the 1 kilometer hike.

I know this sounds a bit ridiculous, a 1K hike. Can you even call this a hike ??? At this altitude … you definitely can!!!

Together with 7 other people of our group, including Tania and our guide, we were the first ones to go up the mountain. We first paid our respects to the ones who left their lives behind on this majestic mountain through a moment of silence. In a way it is so sad but on the other hand, that’s nature as well. It just reminds us how insignificant we really are.

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Our guide, who’s name I unfortunately forgot, told us a little about the vegetation and made sure we were fine as well coz at this altitude with the thin air and all … high sickness isn’t that far away.Halfway up the hike, I left the quick ones in front of me and every 10 to 20 footsteps, I had a quick rest to enjoy the views and strangely enough, although I walked in a very slow pace feeling the thin air and feeling a bit tired as well, I somehow wasn’t really exhausted. It was totally weird and once I reached the Whymper refuge at 5000 meters, I was proud as hell that I made it under the hour!

Maybe a 1K hike doesn’t sound that impressive, to me this was quite an achievement and at the same time, something i will never ever forget!

By the time the last ones reached the refuge as well, we had one last look at the summit before we headed back down.Sunshine had changed into fog, which basically was a bit of a killjoy and about half an hour later, we were back at the first refuge, where a hot chocolate with some marshmallows awaited us … what an award after such an effort!

Sadly enough all fun things have to come to an end at some point and as soon as we were all back on the bus again, we were more than ready for another few hours on the road.During our road trip, I tried to keep my eyes open, but I have to be honest when I say that I really sucked at it. I guess the strenuous walk had something to do with that as well and by the time I woke up again, it was already way past noon and time for lunch, which we had in the little village of Calpi.

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Calpi is but a small rural parish and although at first sight, you might think there is not too much to see, at this small village, which is the home of a few catholic nuns, they have set up a small project together with a few local women in baking some delicious quinoa cookies. 

I was a bit disappointed that we couldn’t see how these yummy cookies were made. Instead of visiting the bakery, we just went on a short walk through the village and the pastures and fields surrounding it. After saying goodbye to the women, it was back on the road again for the final stretch all the way to Banos, where we arrived a few hours later.

With still a bit of daylight ahead of us, we tried to check in at our hotel as quick and possible in order to see a bit more of the town but as soon as we stepped outside again it started to rain a bit. It seemed that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant evening and the cold wind blowing through town wasn’t helping as well.

Freddy hoped we were all having dinner with him, but just like me and Tania, a few others wanted to seek out something on their own as well. As soon as we said “adieu” to our group, we tried to find the main street which is known for its many restaurants and although this was a bit difficult without a guiding map, after a bit of searching, we did manage. The weather here in Banos wasn’t at its best with its occasional showers and as it was getting darker and darker, instead of walking through the many streets of Banos, we just went on the lookout for something to eat, which we found at nice looking Italian restaurant.

Sadly enough, once the food was brought to the table, we had to find out at the spot that the cook managed to serve us a very cold pasta … what the heck ??? How on earth can you serve this to a person at a cold and rainy evening ??? What was he / she thinking of ??? 

This was definitely not how we wanted to end our evening and as soon as we were out of that joint, we were back on the way to our hotel, but not without one last stop at a local empanada place. This small eatery served some divine empanadas and while Tania went for 2 simple ones, I went for the one with banana and chocolate … I had died and gone to heaven. It was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten, it was just that good.

A hot cup of coca tea later, we left the eatery and decided to call it quits for the day. We slowly walked back to our room and a hot shower later, I just went to bed. It was only 10 PM, but I was completely knackered, something I have experienced more than once on this trip. It seems that I was not only stung by a few mosquitos, but by a sleeping bug as well!

Posted by Ils1976 05:32 Archived in Ecuador

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