Excitement rose as we were approaching the equator line. Nothing would stop us now! For the second time we would stand at latitude 0°. The first time was at Ilhéu das Rolas, in São Tomé e Príncipe. Now it’s time for the equator in America. However, before we reached the 0 ° latitude, we had some fun in a moto-train. Railways are not popular in this part of the world. Most often it is the remains of all kinds of mines.
We visited the equator line in a less touristic place than, for instance, Mitad del Mundo (the center of the world), but with an original theory. What would you say to turn the world map 90 ° anticlockwise? Would the asymmetries between North and South disappear? Don’t think so! Marzena, also, was not convinced by this theory, but was eager to listen to their explanations. You can read all about it, the Quitsato Project, here.
March is still a rain season in Ecuador. It’s grey, almost English, so do not expect calendar photos! Never the less we will explore all that we can. We saw, for a very brief moment, the tip of the glacier on top of the Antisana volcano. For that, for one night, we rented a hut in a lodge. Nothing fancy, as the description might suggest. The place was nice and the owners amazing. We could admire the hummingbirds directly from the couch in the restaurant, and through the binoculars condors patrolling the canyon. It was so nice to sit by the fireplace and drink good worm coffee. The owners had to go to town so gave us the keys to the restaurant and the entire property. They completely trusted us! Amazing. Ok, I agree, one look at me and you will be surrendered to my magnetism but what about Marzena? Would you trust her??
We hopped for better weather on the Cotopaxi volcano. The pictures we saw looked amazing, a perfect cone. Unfortunately, for us it was all clouds. We camped beneath the volcano at an altitude of 3800 m above sea level. It was cold, foggy but we had it all just for us. Peace and quiet. Marzena slept like a child, a very noisy one but still a child. Me, in the other hand, had many problems falling asleep. First Marzena then wild horses. At night, they hid, just like us, at the entrance of the tiny canyon and, not like us, chewed all the grass around, as if it was their last night living. You just wont believe how loud this horses chewed! Morning coffee was a challenge. At this altitude, the water does not boil at 100C. But the landscape compensated all. UMM reached the height of about 4500 m above sea level with no problems. We had hopes for better visibility, but clouds have similar properties regardless of height they are – they covered the whole area. Cotopaxi without clouds looks like this.
I do not know who influences the fact that we end up always wandering in the mountains :), It’s the price I have to pay for having a top quality navigator. Andes, volcanoes, craters. The magic of the mountains. To Marzena they seem to possess, just as I do, pure magnetism.
We parked at the very edge of the Quilotoa crater. That view was something to admire.
Regardless of weather conditions, we decide on another mountain, or rather another volcano. Chimbarazo, the highest peak of Ecuador, also considered the point most distant from the centre of the Earth (more than Mt. Everest). This due to the fact that the areas located on the equator are farthest from the centre of the Earth. It does not scare us, in fact, it motivates us. And there we were, 5000 m hight! And that’s what Chimbarazo looks like without clouds.
We like Ecuador very much. Not without significance is the price of diesel. One gallon costs 1,037 dollars, and the price is the same in all gas station. More or less 0.25 euro. Eating out is also beneficial for our figure and our wallet. One “almuerzo ejecutivo”, (consisting in a soup as a first course, chicken or other meat sided with corn, rice and a small salad, as second course and a drink) costs about 2.5 dollars. We like it very much!
Another attraction on our way was Cajas National Park. It proved to be the most humid place so far. Water from the sky’s, water under the shoes, everything here seems to be floating on water! Wonderful. Never been to Scotland, but it seemed similar to us. See for yourself.
The Ecuadorian-Peruvian border is almost visible on the horizon. We stop for an overnight stay in the Podocarpus National Park. A walk in the rainforest was pure pleasure. So many shades of green cannot be absorbed at once, and all plants are beautiful. They impressed us with their shape, texture and creativity. Imagine how it looks like in blooming season. During our stay, only one species of orchid was flowered.
At the very end of our stay in Ecuador, on the road, about 3 km from the border, we were blessed with a show seen only in National Geographic documentary’s. Only does with strong nerves should continue reading this post.
We had already encountered tarantulas on the road in the United States, nothing new. But here was something new. A fight to the death. And we were the only spectators. A battle between a hawk wasp and a tarantula. The following photographs show only the end of the combat, where the tarantula, already paralysed by the wasp, is dragged to the wasp’s nest, a hole in the ground. In this nest the wasp lays one egg into the tarantula abdomen and flies away, not before closing the nest entrance. A nasty fate for the tarantula. Remember that the poor spider is not dead and will, eventually, be eaten alive by the wasp larvae. The larvae will keep the spider alive for as long as it can by avoiding eating vital organs!