Today was full of exploration as we traveled to the base of a volcano, Chimborazo (tallest peak in Ecuador), and to a “magic” forest.
We started our day at 630a and quickly got on the bus to drive to the basecamp of Chimborazo. On our way there we saw llamas, alpacas, and vicuñas (wild, deer-like animals). We arrived at basecamp (14000+ ft) to take pictures and while we were there we met the famous Ecuadorian climber Santiago Quintero. Quintero was coming down after attempting to summit Chimborazo.
We then drove off to the trailhead of the magic forest. There was very little vegetation and so it was very windy and cold. After a quick hike, we reached the magic forest, a forest filled with polylepis trees (meaning many layers). There we caught our breath and got ready to head back into the wind and summit a peak that neighbored Chimborazo. At the summit there were amazing views of Chimborazo and the surrounding area.
After our hike we headed down to have lunch in San Juan, and then back to the hostel. The bus ride was long, but definitely worth the views we got to see in the mountains.
We arrived at the hostel and hurriedly prepared for our final English classes. Many of us had little parties to celebrate the last English session our delegation would have. The classes were bittersweet because many of us had created friendships with our students and were glad to teach them again, but were sad when it came time to say goodbye.
Being leader of the day was fun because we simply were exploring Ecuador. However, it was also a vast contrast from the day before (Poverty Day). Yesterday we were really struck with the reality that many people who live in poverty do not have the options we do. Also, we were really pushed to acknowledge the hardships people who have minimal incomes face. We are very fortunate that we can eat different varieties of food and generally travel to places that require something motorized. Today was special because we were able to leisurely explore Ecuador.
Climb to the top of the mountain not to have the world to look at you, but to look at the world.