all mission trips at our church set aside one day for a tour day. this summer our group decided to visit a volcano called quilotoa. if one can imagine what a perfect volcano caldera looks like, this is it.
quilotoa was approximately two hours from machachi. the morning we set out, i made sure i packed enough dramamine to go around. when ecuadorians warn that the road is winding, anticipate a wild ride. several of of our group had a light breakfast and some of us skipped it all together. which turned out to be a dreadful mistake.
as expected the drive was winding, but we were all flying high on Jesus, dramamine, sugar and caffeine. the villages and scenery were so quaint and storybook like. fields and fields of quinoa. women walking their sheep, children tending to one or two cows, small houses with colorful clothes lines, patchwork farms almost vertical on the side of a mountain... i was imagining the millions of pictures i would take if i wasn't hanging onto the door handles around the curves.
the plan was to hike to the bottom and ride a donkey to the top. the "donkey rental" was as you entered the park. reserve your donkey now for the ride up. the workers would walk your donkey down and meet you at the lake. (it was too steep to ride down.)
so we walked a little ways. then tripped, fell and slid our way down. man was it steep. the dust was so fine and i hadn't forgotten i was deathly afraid of heights. but the stunning view was worth it.
when we made it to the bottom, we sat and soaked in the beauty. (i realize i am using the word beauty a lot) it was just SO BEAUTIFUL!
did i mention i chose not to rent a donkey? bennett, patrick, jose and myself felt pridefully "fit" enough to hike our way back up. i mean, we were wearing fancy backpacks and mountain jackets! which automatically qualifies one as a hiker, right? "come on boys, let's beat these donkeys to the top."
we later learned we were embarking on a 380ft vertical ascent. it was past lunchtime, our stomachs were empty, we didn't pack water and the dozens of protein bars we packed were at the hostal. we had also forgotten the effects of the high altitude and a dust mask would have been a great idea.
God decided it was time for a lesson in pride.
friends. this was physically the hardest thing i have ever done.
fifteen minutes in and we all stopped. "what were we thinking not renting a $10 donkey?! did we not notice that almost everyone rents a donkeys! why didn't we look to see how many others hiked up. why had i skipped breakfast!!!???"
we required a lot breaks.
my fear of heights dissipated! no longer did i care so much about falling to my death (or breaking a leg) walking on the walls was easier than battling the fine sand.
notice the guy's face.
i wanted to shout, " save yourself and rent a donkey!"i think this is where i promised God my first born. if we all make it to the top, he's all yours God! (which thankfully he really is)
it wasn't as hard on our ecuadorian interpreter. thankfully we all share the same sense of humor. "jose, if you do not get your prideful, flexible self off that wall, God is going to use my foot to kick you off!"
the donkeys had long passed us.i couldn't help but to think about the people who earn a living hiking up and down this mountain several times a day. with a heavier pack and stiffer shoes.
it was 3pm when (praise God) we finally reached the top! prideful lesson learned! we were covered in dust to the point our hair was standing up like bristles on a wire brush. we were sneezing and coughing and carrying on. these four americans were dirty, mean, thirsty, and starving!
the only place to eat for miles and miles was a pizza place. i didn't care to ask if there was a gluten free option ;) i figured today i didn't die on the way up, so i will take my chances with gluten. the restaurant had one oven, so they cooked the pizzas one at a time. we ate one large pizza each! it may have been the best pizza on the planet at that very moment!