October 24, 2007
I took a bus this morning to Latacunga, about two hours south of Quito. The Lonely Planet says it looks "pretty damn cool," but I didn't see what the fuss was about. I met up with Leigh, the Kiwi who had come directly from Tena, to travel around the Quilatoa Loop for the next few days.
We took another bus to Quilatoa, a little village about 4000 meters above sea level. The area must cater to tourists because right away a lady offered us accommodation at her house for the night. We chatted with the family about their Quichua culture for awhile, but the daily rain had finally abated, so we decided to take a walk around the area.
Next to the town was the Quilatoa Lagoon, a beautiful sight from above, although it was too cloudy to see Cotopaxi (the world's highest volcano) and the other mountains in the background. We walked down the path to the lagoon 400 meters below for a closer look. On the way up we met a local who told us about ten times that the area was safe. Usually that's the case in a town of fifty, but I guess he was just concerned about preserving the tourism industry here because it's the main way the Quilatoans make money.
Later at night we learned how to count to ten in Quichua, although I forgot most of the numbers right away. Quichua has as much in common with Spanish as English does with Chinese, so it's impressive that everyone here can speak both languages fluently.
It got freezing cold rather quickly after sunset, but there were wood stoves at the house to keep us warm. We needed help from one of the teenage daughters to get the fire going in our room because nothing burns well at this altitude, not even cigarette lighters. It wasn't because I suck at lighting fires, I swear.
The photo album for this entry is here.