Saved by a Kindle: a not-so-intrepid volcanic adventure in Ecuador…

“Soar with the condors, bike with the pumas”, said the flier. Oh wow, OK, I’d love to! That sounds awesome, I thought. Well, it wasn’t. Today was an epic travel FAIL.

“This moderate to challenging adventure takes place at the foothill of the majestic snow-capped active volcano Cotopaxi. Cycling will start at the Limpiopungo lake and will explore the national park!”

Well, it didn’t, because I was too frickin cold to get out of the bus. YES. I just spent an entire day on a bus, because I am ill-equipped to brave weather below 70 degrees F.

Thanks Bali.

I bought this fetching hat which helped a bit. And some gloves. I seriously was not expecting it to be this cold. We had some nice coca tea at the start, which is meant to help with the altitude adjustment. Coca is basically leaves. Not unpleasant but yeah… leaves. After that we climbed another 2000 metres to a height of roughly 5800 metres, where it was SNOWING.

It fucking SNOWED. The tour operator did not tell me it was going to snow when I booked this pleasant cycling trip to see some scenery. Do I look like I can handle snow? DO I? This is the only photo I managed to take at that altitude because quite frankly I was not about to get out of the bus in my $17 pink cardigan from JC PENNEY and jeans, in a blizzard. I’m not even exaggerating. There was an actual blizzard.

As the rest of my group hiked up a glacier that would have had even Shackleton weeping into his thermos, I ate a few Ritz biscuits and read on my Kindle. As they cycled down 15 kilometres towards our lunch stop through an Arctic snowstorm, I rather enjoyed the first two chapters of The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. Great book.

When they got back an hour and a half later all windswept with balaclavas dripping in melting frost, we drove back down to a temperature that could actually be registered without breaking a thermometer. I continued to read. I almost forgot to take these photos actually, but the sun, which decided to come out, eventually made me look up.

Cotopaxi National Park has a lovely lake. I ventured off the bus briefly to look at it. The snow-capped peak is quite delightful.

We failed to spot The Andean Hillstar, a small hummingbird that’s one of the unique bird species living in this region, but that might have been because I was reading.

We got to this base camp for really intrepid people, who had set up these tents. A group of sunburnt English girls were running about throwing tennis balls, looking very outdoorsy. I wanted to punch them. But instead I read some more of my book.

“Besides the imposing Cotopaxi Volcano, the National Park is filled with serenely beautiful paramo, landscapes and lakes,” said the flier.

Whatever. I may have shoes from North Face, but I’m definitely not intrepid enough for this.