IN THE MIDDLE
IN THE MIDDLE
Ecuador! The name says it all, this country is divided by the equator line. It’s not clear why the “Mitad del Mundo”, the middle of the world, is here and not in one of the other countries through which the same line runs. In Ecuador, it’s said that due to the altitude and clear air, it was originally much easier to determine the zero point. Nevertheless, the point is about 240 meters away from the exact zero line and therefore there are now two centers in Ecuador, a historical and an exact one. We visited both and of course jumped over both lines and from now on we will travel on the southern hemisphere.
SWIFTLY ON THE ROAD
What immediately strikes us in Ecuador, are the fantastic road conditions. After Colombia, we enjoy them and speed up without constantly having to avoid the potholes and topes. Not only the good roads, but also the incomparable diesel prices make driving a pleasure ? For 1 US Doller you get about 4 liters of diesel and therefore refueling is almost a joy for your wallet and we are not afraid of one or the other detour on our discovery trip through the country.
There is a lot to see in Ecuador and we drive for the first time with our home-on-wheels to dizzying heights over 4’000 meters. The parking lot from the base camp of the volcano «Cotopaxi» is at 4’580 meters and the one of the «Chimborazo» even at 4’850 meters. Due to the steep and rocky track, the drive up to the Cotapaxi is a lot more exhausting for our vehicle than to the higher Chimborazo. Only thanks to the low gear we make it to the top. Merely at walking pace and with a lot of white smoke, we steam our way meter by meter to our destination. Sometimes we curse the decision not to have a turbo installed… But the longer we drive at this altitude, the better our vehicle copes with the thin air. It’s similar for us. At altitudes of around 5’000 meters, the oxygen is scarce and we, too, drag ourselves only slowly and gasping for air through the literally breathtaking landscape. And even if just a little elevation gain separates us from our aim, we need a lot of breathing space to get there. The lamas and vicuñas don’t seem to mind that, and the few, dry and prickly grass that grows here seem to be enough for them. Maybe it’s the hot chocolate, which finally gives us the necessary energy to climb as far up as it’s allowed without a guide. For the very fit, or should we say courageous – after all the Cotopaxi is the second highest, active volcano in the world – it continues from there across snow fields up to the summit at 5’897 meters above sea level. The title of the highest volcano although is held by Chimborazo due to a special geological condition. Measured from the center of the earth, it’s 6’384 meters high and even towers over Mount Everest by two meters, of which the Ecuadorians are particularly proud ?
A LOT OF WATER
Actually, we are travelling in dry season right now, but that doesn’t mean much in Ecuador. We are told that there is a different climate behind every mountain range and that even the south and the north of the capital Quito are different! So, we are not really surprised about the rainy weather, which we encounter in the for its waterfalls famous town of “Baños”. After the days in the sun and the dusty dirt roads along the “Ruta de los Volcanes” we almost enjoy the soft dribble on the roof of our cabin and soak in the hot springs while it’s wet and cool outside. Thanks to the rain, the waterfalls deserve their name and we are impressed by the masses of water that plunge thundering and roaring into the depths in many places. The most spectacular falls bear the threatening name “Pailón del Diablo”, the canyon of the devil. In order to prevent us from getting completely soaked, we must renounce the visit of the lower viewing platform.
A LITTLE BIT OF HOMELAND
Culturally, the country has a lot to offer too! On our way to Peru we visit the colonial town «Cuenca». On a walking tour around the historic old town, we meet two Swiss and two Dutchwomen. Since the 1st of August is on the doorstep the next day (for all non-Swiss readers: this is our national holiday) and because we all come from cheese countries, we spontaneously decide to have a fondue, because that makes a good mood ? Our mood in fact is so good thereafter, that we spend the rest of the night touring karaoke bars. The locals are deeply impressed by our vocal talents in the international – meaning English – jargon. It’s just a pity we didn’t record any of it for our dear readers… But maybe that’s a good thing, because otherwise it might happen that Sony Music discovers us and we would have to stop the journey…
THE NEXT ADVENTURE CALLS
We drive back to the coast and are finally able to take a deep breath again on sea level. We park our vehicle for a while, pack our bags and go on vacation for a few days. Where we head to, we will tell in the next blog. Only so much is revealed, we fulfill ourselves a long-cherished dream…