Overdue Accounts of Professional Vacationing

I sat down to start organizing my most recent vacation pictures and realized that in a grand act of disrespect towards Ecuador, I never followed up on my “to be continued…” promise. Sorry, Ecuador. Sorry, Mom.

On a regular basis Natalie and I say things like “Remember that time we went to Ecuador the second time (just kidding Kate) and it was the best?” Because it was.

Quilotoa

I still wish I could live at the Black Sheep Inn. I vibrantly remember the warm wool blankets, the best shower of all time, the cheese sandwiches, the smell of woodsmoke, the meals. Rather than offensively barefoot hostel dwellers, we met the hilarious group of friends from Guayaquil (a major city on Ecuador’s southern coast) who immediately charmed us by saying “You two are obviously from the U.S. but you speak Spanish like…Colombians?”

Higher on the list of Best Parts of the Best Vacation was visiting Quilotoa. Quilotoa is a crater lake that I’ve wanted to visit since 2009 and was a major factor in the planning of this particular trip (“I don’t care what else we do but we’re going to Quilotoa.”) We hired transportation to get us to the lake in the morning, where we promptly descended, paddled kayaks and climbed back up. While the guayaquileños from the hostel told us it was horrendously difficult and we would more or less drop dead unless we hired horses to carry us on the way up, but we somehow managed on foot. Anyway, yawn. What is it with gringos and everyone climbing up and down things? You visit a new place and immediately find something to climb, whether it’s stairs, a tower, a mountain, a skyscraper or a crater lake. Luckily these views distracted us from the utter monotony.

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From Quilotoa crater, we decided to do the 5-hour moderate hike back to the hostel. Several other hostel guests had separately told us how they got lost on this trek in spite of overly detailed printed instructions but we sort of scoffed at their naiveté. As if we had never hiked before. Besides, we found the canyon the day before by following hostel instructions.

Let’s just say that over six hours into our hike, I saw a sign that said “Chugchilán” (the town where we were staying) and what I thought was “15 Kilometers” and I almost cried and threw myself down the very same canyon that we were now ascending because there were about twenty minutes of daylight left and my legs couldn’t carry me that far. Luckily I had misread the sign and there was no crying or throwing of selves.

After this epic* journey we somehow found the leg strength to embark on a hike the following day, this time to a cheese factory. Obviously. While the cheese factory was closed when we got there, and we absolutely got lost on the way, it was again the most rewarding kind of lost two gringas could ask for.

These are my pictures, this was my trip, I climbed up and down those ridges and mountains for three days and yet in looking back at this album, these views are unreal. Ethereal yet omnipotent. Photoshopped. From the natural formations to the humble farmhouses in the absolute middle of nowhere, the landscapes in this part of Ecuador were the kind that make you feel utterly tiny and unimportant in the bigger scheme of things, that remind you that your little problems are petty, and probably not problems. The kind of landscapes that make you feel really, really fortunate to be a part of for a few days.

To be more continued.

*For the record because I’m sick of Milennials ruining everything, I am not misusing or essentially killing the word “epic” here like everyone else on the internet. I was actually using it like the English language wants us to, for describing an adventurous tale, endurance or overcoming a trial.

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