Impressions from Ecuador
“Siga nomas” is one of the Ecuadorian expressions par excellence. It is always suitable for every occasion, if there is still space in the packed bus, if you can help yourself – whatever – if something is simply not a problem. And somehow everything always works if you bring a dose of calm. If, for example, no bus stops because all the seats are full on the holiday, you can spontaneously take a pick-up with them. Because mostly others have the same problem and in Ecuador we help each other.
I was able to experience that first hand in the year that I lived in this wonderful country. Briefly to me: My name is Mareike, I am 24 years old and after my bachelor’s degree in ethnology I did a voluntary service in Quito, more precisely in a music school for people with intellectual disabilities (SINAMUNE) and I am currently doing an internship. I mainly spent the weekends in Ecuador driving to different corners of the country to learn as much as possible about the country and its people. In one year, of course, a lot has come together. That’s why I would like to tell you about an experience that stuck in my mind.
Ecuador’s mighty volcanoes
On the road of the volcanoes, as the Panamericana in Ecuador is also called, every sight of one of the majestic peaks is overwhelming. But one thing is to see the volcanic cones from the car window, something completely different, to see the mountain as the last picture before you go to bed and the first thing after you get up. I was able to experience that with two friends with whom I was at Cotopaxicamped. In the morning we took the bus from Quito towards Latacunga and got off at the Panamericana near the entrance to the Cotopaxi National Park. We pulled out our cameras there because the Cotopaxi presented itself wonderfully free of clouds. With a local guide, we first drove to the parking lot at the refuge. From there it is only a good 300 meters to the hut (4,864 m), where we treated ourselves to a coca tea or hot chocolate.
Winter mood on the summit
At over 4,500 m there is a real winter mood: hat, gloves, scarf, cold wind, icy snow. Yes, you can also build a snowman on the equator. You just have to climb accordingly high. And the view is phenomenal: I think I have never seen such a mountain panorama (Illinois, Corazón, Rumiñahui, Pasochoa, Cayambe, Antisana). I didn’t have any problems with altitude either, but by then I had already had over ten months to get used to the altitude in Quito.
Back at the foot of the volcano, our guide brought us to the campsite (lots of meadow and two huts, one with a grill, one with toilets) and then said goodbye. We set up our tent under a few trees and went to the Laguna Limpiopongo. On the way back we collected wood for our campfire and met another German backpacker. Back at the tent, we all started cooking together. With combined ingredients and skills, the dinner turned out to be really delicious, even if the rice had a very smoky note because of the ash. Everything within sight of the Cotopaxi, which was gradually bathed in the colors of the sunset.
Icy cold for a fantastic view
Once the sun went down, it just got pretty cold pretty quickly. It was almost too cold to sleep, even with several layers of sweaters and a sleeping bag. The night was correspondingly short. But for the view the next morning when we opened the tent, it was worth it: sunrise at Cotopaxi. And with a campfire, tea and sun, we got warm again. In retrospect, we found out that it went down to below 0 ° C at night, oops. After breakfast we hitchhiked back to the Panamericana and from there took the bus back to Quito. One or the other fancy photo in my luggage, but above all priceless memories. Another expression that has become part of my flesh and blood is “de una”, which means something like “yes, of course” or “let’s go”.