Morningg fellas… I am extra happy and energetic today because its’s my BIRTHDAYYYY…..When I was young, I remember my father telling me that what you do on your birthday, you will keep doing for the rest of the year. On the hindsight, I think it was his desperate attempt to push me to make an exception and wake up early(which never happened :/ ).But nevertheless every year he would repeat that line to me.
This year I am sure he would have been the happiest father in the world. I woke up at 5.30 am on my birthday. Yup, that’s right. 5.30 AM.
Truth be told, there was a reason I was waking up so excited and not in my usual grumpy and cribby mood(I am sooo not a morning person). The reason for this miracle happening, was that for my birthday I had told my husband that I was keen to climb the world famous COTOPAXI volcano, which was merely 3 hours away from Quito.
And so, a day before we had booked our trip with a well know tour company called Gulliver Expeditions and along with being briefed about the itinerary, we were strictly told to be at the pick up spot(Q restaurant at La Mariscal) by 7 am and not a minute later. Considering there was a lot of cover in a single day, the company preferred to start early, so that nothing would be rushed and the people could enjoy their visit.
With butterflies of excitement in my stomach, I couldn’t wait to get on the bus and get started. At 6.55 am we were standing at the bus stop and noticed that there were around 12 other people(mostly tourists) who were also waiting along with us. Soon the bus arrived and we all boarded and prepared ourselves for the experience of a lifetime.
2 hours into the journey, the bus stopped at a lodge called the Papagayo in a small town called Machachi(23 km short of the National Park of Cotopaxi). This lodge was beautiful; with its lush green gardens, meadows with horses cantering around and a clean little pond where the ducks were peacefully swimming. This was also the place where we were going to be served our meals for the day.
To start with, we had the breakfast consisting of Fruits, Hot Bread with butter and marmalade, Coffee and Tea; laid out for us. During breakfast, people started interacting with each other and getting to know the people with who they would be spending the rest of the day with. After about half an hour, we were asked to assemble near the buses and we had to select our mountain bicycles. Yes, that’s right.
The plan was that while the climb would be half covered by bus followed by a climb up till the summit; while coming down- we would ride our bikes all the way. This was one of the main reasons we had decided to go with this tour company, because biking down sounded really adventurous and a once in a lifetime opportunity.
So out we went and each of us tested and selected our cycles, post which all 12 of the selected bikes were mounted on top of the bus. After this, at around 10, we commenced our journey again. Around 20 minutes later, the guide accompanying us mentioned that we would be stopping at the National Park of Cotopaxi, where there was a museum which we could visit and also mentioned that there was a shop where we should contemplate buying gloves, scarves and caps as it would be extremely cold while climbing the volcano. The wind was going to be strong up there and thus we would have to be adequately protected, so as to not fall sick during the climb.
We did not want to take any chances and regret later and thus stocked up on woolens( which we realized later was a very good decision).
It took us another 20 minutes by bus to reach the parking which was at a height of 14,763 ft, from where we were going to start our climb up the Cotopaxi Volcano. For all who are not aware, Cotopaxi happens to be the world’s second highest ACTIVE volcano in the world. This in itself was intimidating me, and then on top of it when I got down from the bus to join the group for the climb, I froze. I could not move a muscle because of the sudden hit of the cold and the strong wind. I mean, I expected it to be cold. But not this cold.
Seeing that the others had started the climb, I slowly started moving. First 20 steps, I was fine moving at a normal pace. But then, once the wind got stronger, it started pushing me back. I slipped a dozen steps while climbing up- It was THAT strong.
Moreover there was the extreme numbing cold. I could not feel my finger tips and was sure that this was going to be my last day on earth. My over enthusiastic husband on the other hand(who by the way is the laziest man on planet), was happily climbing up and making me feel worse that I was so slow. Nevertheless my spirits lifted when I saw that few people had given up because of the tremendous strain and were heading down back to the bus. At least I knew I wouldn’t give up till I reached that refuge point which was at a massive height of 15,748 ft; even if it took me the WHOLE freaking day to do so. In my mind, the rabbit and the tortoise story kept going on in the repeat mode and I though I was living the particular story.
Except in my current scenario , I was the tortoise and I was going to lose the race too.
|Things which saved my life.|
Finally, after a lot of grit and determination and obviously after a lot many swear words and curses in different languages, I took that one LAST step up and there in front of me was a wooden HEAVEN. This wooden house was the refuge camp where you could give one last shot at reviving your numb, dead fingers and toes before you gave up and sacrificed them to frost bite forever.(Okay, I am exaggerating a bit). But this was the state of mind I was in.
Once inside the house, I had three hot cups of Hot Chocolate and a Cup of Coffee, after which I finally felt some life and warmth in me again.
For the more adventurous souls, the guide takes you further up till the top of the glacier( 16,404 ft); while others like me who have had enough for a day, can stay back at the refuge point and wait for their return or head down to the parking where the bus was. Since, I was super cold and desperately wanted heat in my body, I decided not to wait and started the descend.(Oh, by the way my dear husband decided to go up till the glacier. This he can do, but putting clothes back in the cupboard is a task he can’t move his bones for..;). What is a tale without a little wife grumping in between. lol).
The climb down was way simpler and this time I got to enjoy the view and my surroundings, and even managed to give few words of encouragement to the people who were climbing up with the same look of angst I had a while back. Aahh..it feels good to be on the other side. I now got to show off to people. Loving it…(doing a little dance of joy).
The bus started and dropped us 5 km away from the parking lot, on a road where we were to get on our bikes and ride down all the way up to Laguna Limpiopungo which was a good 10 km away.
It took us around 20-30 minutes to reach our destination. This too because I was very slow in the beginning, since it was a downhill all the way and the bike literally FLIES all the way. If you fall, be prepared to have a lot of bruises. Thus, I again took the tortoise approach: Slow and Steady. But once I had got the hang of it, I let myself loose and just sat on the seat and enjoyed the wind in my hair.
I was a very happy person that moment 🙂
Alas, the adventure came to an end at the laguna, where we helped get our bikes mounted back on the bus and headed back to Papagayo for lunch. It was already 3 pm by the time we reached and then took another half an hour to finish our meal.
We boarded the bus again at 4 and by 6 pm we reached back from where we had started.
Sadly with the end of this perfect day, also came the end of my trip to Quito. We were flying back to Guayaquil tomorrow early morning.
One thing is for sure and that is, my stay in Quito has given me whole lot of memories and experiences to last me a lifetime.
That’s all from my side on my trip to Quito. Read more about Quito in my other blogs:
1)About Quito: Paradise between Volcanoes- Day 1
2)About Quito: Paradise between Volcanoes- Day 2
3)Hotel Posada Tambuca,Quito: Reasonable and Comfortable
4)The Magic Bean Restaurant, Quito: Relish every BITE.
5)Sher-e-Punjab, Quito: Reminiscing India while in Ecuador
If you want to know more about the Gulliver Expedition Tours, you can visit their website: http://www.gulliver.com.ec/
Keep reading more of my blogs, reviews, suggestions etc.