Thursday, 10 December 2009

Monday 7th December

Up early this morning (5.30) with the aim of catching a clear view of Cotopaxi from the hostel we were staying in. Unfortunately the clouds didn't play ball, so the best we got was a rather hazy view. Que sera.

On the way to today's hike we passed over the Occidental mountains (which run parallel to and inland from the Andes) seeing considerably varied terrain on the way. We also ran into (not quite literally) a funeral procession consisting of maybe a hundred people walking down the mountain road, accompanying the coffin to its final resting place. All the women were in traditional dress; felt hats with a feather or pin, bright shawls tied around a baby riding piggy-back, knee-length dark shirt, black leather shoes and cream stockings. It took a good 15 minutes to negotiate our way through the throng before continuing on to the start of the trek - a quite spectacular canyon, part of a system running through the valley between surrounding peaks. It's one of those features that a camera just can't do justice to... it's too big! Life is hard here tho'. The crops were barely holding to the terraces and the soil bone-dry. Many of the houses appeared abandoned.

Following lunch right on the edge of the canyon, we descended a seriously steep slope - 300m vertically - on soft sand - at a run. It only took a couple of minutes to get down! Caroline had a big grin on her face the entire time.

After that it was all up hill, or certainly felt like it.

This evening we are staying over at a farm house at the other end of the valley in Tigua. We've milked the cows by hand (definitely beats the supermarket pasteurised stuff), ridden a llama (again Caroline had a big grin - but this was slightly shorter lived as she realised just how prominent a llama's backbone is), and found an ancient CATERPILLAR tractor that still has a satisfied owner.

And hopefully we'll be fed soon.

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