Sunday, March 30, 2008

Black Sheep Inn, Day Two

March 16, 2008. After our rain soaked beginning to our stay at the Black Sheep Inn, it was wonderful to wake up to a clear day on the morning of our second day. I got a nice panorama movie of the view from our room. Unfortunately, I didn't realize I needed to clean my lens until later in the evening.

Today's grand adventure is to be a trip to Laguna Quilotoa, a volcanic crater with an alkaline lake. March 16th is Palm Sunday, and as we drive through Chugchilán on our way to the volcano, we see many Ecuadorians carrying palms.I'm really shy about pointing my camera at people I don't know, so this photo is one of Colleen's. The roads are really bad, and as we slide over muddy undercut roadbeds on the side of a precipice, we sing songs to keep ourselves occupied. The boys seemed to really like Jenny Jenkins which I just learned from my banjo teacher. Colleen is a yoga teacher, and she sang a yoga chant; I got a kick out of the fact that Ian knew the words! When we finally got there, the view of the crater was amazing! Here Colleen, Ian, and Julian stand in front of the crater.

We had originally planned to hike around the crater, then down, do some boating, and mule back up. The driver said that the rains would start up again in the afternoon, and if we wanted a safe drive back we shouldn't take so long. So, we decided to just hike down into the crater and take mules back up. The views were fabulous the whole way down. A lot of tourists were heading down, and many Ecuadorians were going both ways carrying folded rubber rafts, herding sheep, and wrangling mules.

Julian and my Mom and I went slowly, since Julian has very little 2 year old legs. He did a great job though. It was pretty funny to see him encountering sheep along the way. Here's a video of Julian and my Mom, Diann, hiking down Quilotoa crater. You can see how soft and ashy the ground is. The mules you see carry tourists back up the crater.

Lake Quilotoa panorama:

It seemed to take forever to get down, although it was a mostly fun hike. At one point I almost fell off the crater! The muleteers take tourists up the crater on the mules, and then drive the mules back down the crater at a fairly fast clip. At one point a mule thundered around a corner, and I stood aside to let it pass. Just as the mule was passing me, another very rude mule thundered around the corner going even faster, and shoved itself between me and the other mule. I was already standing on the edge of the path, which was on the edge of a steep ravine. The rude mule actually hip checked me as he went by, and I fell. I teetered and managed to fall to the side. It was scary. The muleteer saw this happen, and I was surprised that he didn't say a word. Most people I met in Ecuador were very nice, but this guy seemed surly. That's probably why the mule was running!

After our hike and a nice lunch lakeside, we climbed up on mules for the trip back up. I made sure not to get the rude mule. The mules didn't have saddles, just blankets, and we all had a hard time not sliding back as we went up the steep slope. My jeans were still damp and muddy from the hike the day before, so I had on extra slippery sweat pants. Oh well! We really had a great time, and the boys loved the mules.
After we returned to the Black Sheep Inn from our crater and mule adventure, my Mom and I walked into Chugchilán. The streets were littered with palms and food garbage. It looked like quite a party had happened. The market was just closing, but a few stalls still sold food. The town has an old church in need or repair, and around the corner, the library! The library has computers and computer classes due to the largesse of the Black Sheep Inn. It was closed, but I of course took a picture! A Miguel Cervantes quote painted on the outside of the library says.

El que lee mucho y anda mucho, ve mucho y sabe mucho.
(Who reads much and walks much sees much and knows much.)

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