Quilotoa in one word: Breath-taking
Sunday Jan 8th.
So my friend Yan and I had our tripped booked by Gina on the Friday of our first week in Ecuador. I forgot the price but it was cheaper than 40 dollars. We took a taxi that Sunday at 6:15 a.m. We were a little tripped by the price. When we got in the taxi the lady said it was 7 dollars flat but there was no meter. Usually from our place to la Foch it would be $5 (only a 2 dollar difference but still). It wasn’t even labeled as a taxi. The next week Gina explained that no we were not being scammed, we were in a private taxi with a set destination. So ten minutes after leaving our dorms, we arrive to the Magic Bean where the tour buses pick us up from. We were so tired and hungry but there was literally only one restaurant in the entire Foch that was open. If i’m not mistaken I think the place was called “Foch Yea” and they had the audacity to charge eight dollars for a buffet that consisted of fruits and bread. -_- Nope, no thank you.
Around 7 a.m. the bus arrived, but they did not leave until thirty minutes later as they were waiting for lost/late people. On the bus, I met a woman from Japan and another from Holland. The Japanese woman was four months into a six month trip of travelling the world. Apparently, her husband (to be) hates travel. However, she loves it. She decided to quit her job and take this trip to get travel “out of her system” before she had to settle down. I found this very sad.
The trip was about 3-4 hours but with stops. First we stopped at an indigenous market where everyone in our van went to go buy exotic fruits and take in the array of animals. My friend Yan and I went with Omar (the handsome, charismatic tour guide) to go eat breakfast. The breakfast, although local, wasn’t very good to me. If seemed strange drinking warm juice and eating rice with a fried egg on top for breakfast. At some point on my way to the van I seemed to have stepped in a mountain pile of poop. I had to scrape it off with a stick, beat my shoe against the pavement, and then wash it off.
Back in the van we took in the magnificent Cuhilee (kichvas?) indiginous women wearing high heels. I asked if there was a special occasion but was told that no, this is daily uniform. Another hour on the bus and Omar is talking, telling us about the cultures of Ecuador, taking a fruit from each person that bought something at the market, and explaining what it was. As we got closer and closer to Quilotoa, we could feel the air pressure from the high altitudes. Some parts along the way reminded me of Cienfuegos, Cuba. Once we reached the loop the landscapes were insanely beautiful. So much lush green everywhere. Omar pointed out hidden huts that some indigenous farmers lived in. You could barely even see their entrance, they were so small, built into the mountain.
So anyways we arrive. We walk towards the entrance, and my breath is taken away. We entered through some cave looking thing and I just was not even prepared for the view I would be seeing. Quilotoa was surreal. The view was insane. Words cannot express. I believe this was the most beautiful view I have ever witnessed in my life. It was almost like a motion picture. Yan and I took a ton of photos, then began to make the trek down to the lake where she could canoe.
*I took a lot of photos that day. Please bear them all thanks. 🙂
Warning! Bring your hiking shoes!
My feet were not prepared for this. There was mostly a dirt road with many rocks leading down to the water. That and dodging all of the tired looking horses who had humans on their backs on their way up the mountain. I will say that I felt very very sad for these horses. I tried to make some people feel bad by saying out loud to my friend how strained they looked. I of course was a hypocrite because by the time we got down the hill….there was no way we wanted to walk back up again. Plus we only had 20 minutes before everyone met at the van and it took us an hour to even get down the hill. So Yan canoed in the beautiful broken-in volcano and I watched. It only cost $3 to canoe but I could not swim and there was nothing shallow about that lake. I’m almost positive it had no bottom. After we chose our horses back up the hill. We felt very conflicted but comfort and ‘the experience’ won out. The ride was only $10 dollars and ‘the experience’ was so freaking cool and scary at the same time. Yan is convinced that the main reason I didn’t want to ride the horses was because I was scared of them.
So we got back to the bus- late. Everyone, I assume, was especially annoyed with me because I arrived last to the bus – I went to the bathroom. I should have apologized profusely to everyone but my pride and shame got the best of me so I quietly took my seat and pretended to be bothered.
Next we had lunch, which was terrible, at a near bye restaurant (it came with the tour). After that we stopped at another beautiful mountain cliff thingy and took pictures there. I tried my best to to be brave while taking photos on the cliff. Unfortunately, they all came out lame because I wasn’t gonna risk my life to go to the edge and have the wind push me off. Finally, we made our final stop before heading home- the indigenous huts. Skinny looking dogs went out to greet us and some people in our group had brought candy bags for the kids.
On hour way up the mountain earlier in the day Omar had told us that many of the indigenous people in the mountains slept in a room full of “hundreds” of guinea pigs (and other animals) surrounding them to keep them warm, since it was so cold up there.
Little did I know that this was legit. I just did not really conceive the thought. As I walked up to the huts I saw cages but no, as I made my way into the hut….I quickly made my way back out. I literally saw guinea pigs (let’s just call them rats shall we?) in the entrance of the hut…just chillin. Nope, I took pics of my surrounding and got back into the van with the other non-risk takers. Thanks to the big heart of a stranger, I got actual pictures of inside the hut.
So Yan and I get back to la Foch around 6:30/7 p.m. We are tired and hungry, so we walk to a restaurant called “Achiote” that Omar had recommended. According to him, this was more authentic Ecuadorian food than “Mama Clorinda”.
Thirty minutes in, recovering from their horrendously bad service, my “Locro de Papas” arrives. Hands down the greatest soup of all time. It was amazing and has forever changed my life. Rich, creamy goodness in every cheesy avocado scoop. You have got to go there and try it! Be careful. Locro de papas is not made equal across Ecuador. You get what you pay for. If you’re spending $3 expect watery soup with some potatoes in it. If you’re spending upwards of that (especially in a tourist restaurant) you should be getting good quality. My soup only cost about $7. Changed my life.
So there you have it. My trip to Quilotoa. I strongly recommend that if you are visiting Ecuador you do not miss this opportunity. The company Gina booked me through was called Ecosportour. Definitely tell Omar I said hi. He’s just so cool. Great guy.
Sorry I write so much 😦 I have a weakness for details.