Published: September 1st 2012August 27th 2012
After getting back from the Galapagos, we said a sad farewell to Gail and Olin and moved down the street to a hostel that we had read about in Lonely Planet, called Casa Bambu.
This hostel was amazing! For $15 a night, we got a private room, free internet, two big kitchens to use, plus there was a giant patio with hammocks, a pool table, and a ping pong table.
In the game pile, we found Stratego, a game we had both played as kids and had been talking about playing again. We also played quite a bit of Rumicube. I love playing games that we are fairly even in, in terms of skill.
We did some nice cooking and explored Quito. We went to the park that is famous in Quito for having great street food, and had some beers and ate empanadas.
We spent one day at the Botanical Gardens of Quito, exploring the greenhouses and rose gardens. Justin told me about it, and of course I was excited to go, as I love flowers. But probably my favorite part was how excited he got about the amazing plants that they had.. he must have
taken about 1,000 pictures there!
There is a basilica in town that has gorgeous towers, which we climbed. At one point I almost couldn´t go any further.. The stairs/ladder was towering hundreds of feet above the city, with no net or anything, and I am terrified of ladders! I pushed through though, and I´m glad for it, because the view was spectacular.
After talking to another traveller at our hostel, we decided to climb the nearby volcano called Volcan Pichincha in order to better acclimate to the heights before attempting to climb Volcan Cotopaxi, the highest active volcano in the world. We rode the teleferico up the mountainside, then took an extremely strenuous (I really had to dig deep!) 3 hour hike up to the 15,000+ ft summit. The view was beatiful, of the whole long city of Quito, and we ate Mac n Cheese sandwiches at the top before heading back down.
We made reservations to climb Cotopaxi, but I had food poisoning the day before and terrible stomach cramps due to gas. I felt better the morning of our trip, but once we got up to the base camp at 15,700ft, I think the gas
that was left expanded, because my sickness came back with a vengeance and I was nauseated all night long. By all night, I mean the allotted time we had to sleep - 6pm to 11pm, before we would have to climb up in the dark to the summit, in time for sunrise. Unfortunately I was still nauseated and so had to stay behind. So here´s Justin´s tale:
"I climbed the mountain." after more pestering,
"I got up at 11, and put on all my cold weather gear, including the harness. They had trained me the day before on how to use crampons and the ice axe. We started up towards the glacier at midnight. It was just Abram (the guide) and I, and we were the first ones to leave the refuge camp. Although it was clear on the drive up, the walk up promised to be much colder, as it was windy and snowing on the switchbacks. We reached the glacier at 1:30am and tied a rope to the harnesses. This ensured that if one of us fell in a crevasse, we would not fall to our death. At first, climbing the glacier was relatively simple, but
at 2:30am, we started going through a maze of crevasses, overhangs, and ice bridges. I have no idea how Abram knew his way up. There were times when he would stop and look around with his headlamp, until he seemed to spot some landmark. All I saw was ice and snow. By 4am we had made it out of the maze. After that, it was a simple matter of steep ascents and grueling weather. I couldn´t put the buff over my mouth, because my breath would freeze the mask and stop me from breathing. By 6am, as the sun rose, we peaked at 19,347 ft (beating my top ascent of Kilimanjaro). The perch was perfect because we had a view of Cotopaxi crater and high speed clouds being blown through it, as well as the sea of storm clouds stretching out as far as the eye could see."
I was really proud of him for climbing that volcano, especially as people started coming back in the morning, and nearly all had turned back long before the summit.
Thankfully I felt much better as soon as we got back down to Quito, and we both spent the day resting.
After much talking, we changed our trip plans. Instead of continuing south and going through Chile, Patagonia and Argentina to Brazil, we decided to go north to Colombia, as we had heard great things. Also, we were running through our money a bit faster than we had anticipated, and we thought it prudent to return to the states with some money in our wallets. We have decided to go north to Bogota, Colombia, then to the coast, then visit some islands and get our PADI (scuba diving license), as its cheaper down here, before heading back to the states.
Oh and I finished reading Lord of the Rings (for the first time!) at Justin´s suggestion. AWESOME BOOKS!
There are more photos below