Today Cotopaxi opened her wings and we saw the “neck of the moon” so clearly it was blinding. But Quinoloa puffed out her mighty cheeks and blew clouds across the land and were saw nothing of her turquoise lake.
That’s the way it goes in the high Andes. We walked a kilometre up the rock strewn lava slopes of the volcano called Cotopaxi, where the air is thin and the world is nothing but dust and ice. Her brilliant white peak was not snow but ice; as we walked up the path we could see several glaciers, capping the mountain like thick icing.
Looking up, the ice on the summit revealed icicles hanging off layers of ice, just as if some giant sky being had poured water onto the top of the mountain and a freezing wind had stopped it running down the sides.
Walking down, a pair of condors made their lazy way across the sky in front of us.
Cotopaxi had one more lovely surprise for us: as we drove down wild horses gambolled on the glacier plain and as we watched the ponies Cotopaxi offered us a perfect view.
It’s not often she does that.
The drive from Cotopaxi National Park to Quinoloa National Park was spectacular: the verdant green slopes of the multitudes of volcanos and mountains shone in the sunlight.
Ecuador has had a record wet winter and the slopes are proudly wearing their patchwork quilts. Small fields of onions, fava beans and potatoes fan across the steep slopes, feeding the families of the descendants of the Indian people who have lived in this region for thousands of years.
The 4000m high winding road gave us a birds eye view of nature at her most beautiful, and her most angry, when we came across a great scar across the land that marked where the tectonic plates of the earth had moved and split the land.A huge deep chasm runs for kilometres across the land, separating farmer from farm land and house from land.
Reminded of the power of nature, we shouldn’t have been surprised that we were not able to see the crater lake of Quinoloa; it was completely obscured by thick cloud. Even when we walked half way down to the lake’s edge, all that was revealed was a sliver of the sheen of water.
We walked back up.
My boots got a work out today. So did I.
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