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Published: February 11th 2020
Our first 2 days in Ecuador were spent at a great hostel in Quito (Hostel Revolution) getting used to the altitude and finding the central market for supplies and lunch. We decided not to have the potatoes and leather or the leather and booklet!
We learned that the bus system of Quito takes a bit of getting used to….we were warned to keep each other and our other valuables closely guarded which seemed ok until we finally, after a couple of false starts due to nerves, managed to barge our way onto the bus which was soooo crowded that you had to literally throw yourself off the approach ramp which are built into the bus stops and onto the bus before the doors shut. At one point I (Jan) was on the bus but the doors started to close and Pete was still on the ramp OH NO thank you very much that is not going to happen, so Pete in his very best gallant way hauled me off the bus into his arms (so romantic) but the momentum was too much for us and we in turn fell into the arms of a tiny Ecuadorian lady. The domino effect
was quite spectacular but not altogether likely to strengthen Ecuadorian-English relations. As the next bus approached, we found ourselves alone on the approach ramp (not sure why) and managed a joint launch onto the bus. Sadly after 10 minutes or so, smoke started coming out of the floor and the bus came to a halt. As we all leapt from the bus onto the highway we did temporarily forget to keep our valuables clutched to our chests but got away with it.
It was all a bit busy in Quito so we caught the bus to much calmer Otavalo, 2 hours north and towards the northern highlands to begin our High Altitude training. We are hoping to attempt the Quilatoa Loop (maybe it should be called the Killer Toe-er Loop) next week so we need to get used to the altitude. Quito is at 2800m which made us a bit breathless but our hostel in Otavalo is in the hills towards Lagunas de Mojandas at a height of around 3000m and our walk yesterday took us to a saddle of 4000m. But today, WE CLIMBED FUYA FUYA , which is an extinct volcano and is 4263m. We
were sooooo slow, but we got there! At one point I was trying to calculate how long it was going to take us….we were having to stop and rest every 25 steps. If the slope was 45% that would have been an altitude gain of about 8m for every rest. And of course we couldn’t agree on the slope. I thought it was at least 70 degrees, Pete thought it was 40 degrees. Excuse me but who is likely to be better at estimating a slope? Anyway the calculations became too difficult once we couldn't breathe so we abandoned and just got on with it. The final approach was made on hands and knees (me) up a sheer rock face that Pete described as “scrambling”. How ridiculous it was definitely not scrambling, free climbing more likely.
So we are moving on tomorrow to Latacunga where we will start the Quilota Loop. It'll take us 5 days, walking from village to village but thankfully we catch a bus to the first and last villages. See you on the other side!
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