Don’t fear the reaper

Perhaps tomorrow I will upload some pics, if I can find the cord for my camera.

Mucho traffico on the route from Otavalo to Quito today. In broken Spanish (read – lots of hand gestures) I was able to deduce that there was a double whammy of traffic today. Ecuador had their general elections on Saturday, and the cities emptied into the countryside as everyone returned to their villages to vote. Apparently I missed the bulk of the election traffic on Saturday morning by opting to take the bus to Otavalo on Friday afternoon. Secondly, it was dias de la madres (I am sure I misspelled that) which is a very big deal in this country. Streets were overflowing with roses and sweet fruits for mothers. Incidentally, my mother’s day gift was NOT delivered, so I look like a giant douchebag right now. Thanks a lot, 1-800-FLOWERS. (Hi Mom!)

Ecuadorian buses will cram people on them until they are practically falling out the window. So there I was, the only gringo on the bus, thrilled that I had enough Spanish skills to buy a bus ticket and get on the right bus. This is when I discovered that the bus is actually full. Lucky seat #40 is a sideways half seat behind the driver, not in the main section of the bus. It could be worse, I could be one of the unlucky people standing in the aisles for the 2 hour drive. A 2 hour drive which took 4 hours.

Going around a hair splitting blind curve at 100 km an hour through the Andes just after dark, Blue Oyster Cult’s (Don’t Fear) The Reaper started blaring on my headphones, and in all my gringoness, I starting singing along. It just felt right.

I did something I don’t usually do today. I climbed a volcano. Specifically, I attempted to summit Mt. Fuya Fuya, but a little after 4500 m in altitude, I thought my head was going to explode, and my lungs were going to burst forth from my chest in one final moment of volcanic eruption from deep within my core. Again in broken Spanish, I explain to the mountain guide, “Soy asthmatico. Mucho difficile respirado.” Waiting on a boulder for my hiking partners to summit and come down, the altitude leaves me euphoric. I watch the clouds pass over the neighbouring peak, and reveal the town in the valley below. I watch the stillness of the lake below. The wind rustles the grass, but for an hour, I am alone on a mountain in the Andes with only my breath. It was grandiose. It was magnificent. I’m pretty sure the altitude made me nuts. When do I get to do it again?

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