There are three things you can do on a bus here in Ecuador, from what I’ve seen. One, you can sleep (if you’re not one of the unlucky ones standing in the aisle). Two, you can make out passionately and shamelessly (okay, I only saw one couple doing this, but it left quite an impression). Or three, you can stare at the tall, awkward Americans standing in the aisle… free entertainment.
After about 45 minutes, the bus slowed down to let us off. We jumped off and were surprised by the landscape. It was very different from the green, lush countryside we’re used to here in the Andes. Since we were at the volcano, and so high in elevation, trees and grass couldn’t grow anymore. It was really barren. A park ranger was waiting in a truck and charged us $5 each to get into the park. He told us it was 8km to the refuge, so off and up we went. We realized really quickly that air up there was very thin. We had a hard time getting enough oxygen, which made it really difficult to exert ourselves hiking. We’ve become acclimated to Riobamba’s elevation of 9,000 ft (Salt Lake is 4,300), but the volcano, even at the base, is higher than that. The higher we climbed, the steeper it got, and the harder it was to breathe.
A couple tour groups passed us in vans, and I was jealous. I guess we were doing it the hard core way… I’ll just keep telling myself that. The barren landscape was pretty in its own way but we started to get kind of ornery as we continued with the same old rocks, brush and vicuña poop. As we got higher, though, the view was amazing: huge mountains in the distance in all directions. We ended up going back down before we reached the refuge, though. We were hungry, very cold, very out of breath (even after taking a break), and I had to peeeeee!
This is the only pretty plant that was growing on the volcano.
Jonathan trying to catch his breath.
Me dumping dirt and rocks out of my shoes (I wore the WRONG shoes) after sinking into some dry quick sand... I know, not really, but it felt like it.
Me getting way ahead of Jonathan on the way down because I had to pee so badly. I forgot that there wasn't a bathroom at the bottom of the road anyway, so it was useless.
Somehow Jonathan dragged himself out of bed to go to church to watch the priesthood session so I dragged myself out of bed and walked to the grocery store so we’ll have food tomorrow. I can’t believe how sore and tired I am. I think I like Chimborazo better from the distance. This is what it looks like from our apartment roof.
This is Jonathan singing his heart out.
Monday we went out to a community to check out how their water system that gives them running water is working. They’re having some problems with the design of the system and we wanted to see if there’s anything we can do to make it better. Look at this view they have… This is from the school’s playground. Everyone in Ecuador seems to have such a nice view.
Well I’m glad church doesn’t start until 11 tomorrow because of conference. I’m going to miss staying home and watching it in my pajamas (we Utahn’s are so spoiled), but maybe I’ll get more out of it this way. It’s amazing to me that we can watch conference live here in Ecuador (since we are one hour ahead). I can’t imagine how hard it would be to translate live, but I’m interested to see how it works.
I miss all of my family and friends. We love you guys. I can’t believe we’ve already been here over a month. Time is flying. I’d love to hear from all of you.
P.S. – I know there are a lot of parentheses in this post. Sometimes it’s just easier that way. I’m not sorry.