Three gringas running down a steep cobblestone road that descends from a mountain. One is in shorts, another has a headlamp, and the other (yours truly) is galloping in sandals. The bus back to town arrived and apparently we wouldn't miss it for anything.
The day was gorgeous - our first day without rain, and one of the more cloudless days we've had in three weeks. I've been walking to and from class each day (about an hour one way) and that's been a real mood lifter. I love it. Especially today with such spectacular views, though yesterday we did spot nearby mountains with snow on them.
Saturdays, though, are big days for the local outdoors scene. Tons of people descended on the trail with mountain bikes. We had no problem with them, until one spot in the trail where we have to go single file through a few poles. This time, while we were going through, I heard a 'Permiso' but it was too late - behind me was Mandy, who couldn't move out of the way in time before the biker hit her in the leg. What seemed like a split second later, a man on a bike directly behind hit her and fell over. Because he was clipped in, he fell comically sideways, cursing the way down. Bikers were coming from the other direction. So Mandy and I were stuck in the middle, wanting to disappear from this bicycling disaster and at the same time trying so hard not to laugh at the ridiculous situation. I feel pretty sure it wasn't our fault at all, but I do hope not to run into them again. Or them into us...
Anyway, it was so clear, we finally spotted some major glaciated peaks nearby - Cotopaxi, I'm pretty sure? We've even seen Antisana. There are just too many to count...
We worked in our small language/culture groups for a short while before breaking up and presenting our Ecuadorian feast. Each group had a dish to prepare, and ours was corviches. Unfortunately when we went to the local grocery store, they had none for sale. So while I waited outside, my group came out with ice cream. I'm happy to say our facilitator just laughed when he heard the story...
A small group formed to go up the local mountain Ilalo, and we even walked all the way from training to approach it. When we got to town, we decided to hop on a bus to take us part way up the mountain...but it was more complex than just hopping on. It passed us going around the corner so we thought we'd missed it. But there it was - and Abby chased that sucker down like a pro and caught it for us. Took us way up for quite a great start, though it feels a little like cheating. Cobblestone road melted into footpath, into cobblestone road, into dirt road, and finally to footpaths among high altitude farmland.
We kept taking wrong paths but wrong isn't all that bad - these trails wrapped tantalizingly across Ilalo neither descending or ascending, just going straight across with the valley below and sweeping views of the green mountain buttress ahead. For another time, I hope?
Eventually we worked our way to the first cross which we noticed had just been graffito tagged the same day. And then the best reward of them all: getting to ridgewalk. Nothing better. Our tentative plan was to get to the top and descend down the other side to another town where apparently there's some kind of wood...bar...or something. But it was getting late (this is all after class, remember) we decided that no matter how unbelievable the views were on the other side, we had to go down the way we came.
So after walking down leisurely, we spotted that bus.
It was only 6ish, so we celebrated with beer (the guy working there had a White Sox cap and, unrelated to my praise on that or not, he gave us a free bottle...).
Wrapped the day up with my host family who cracked me up. I didn't understand most of the rapid talk but it was still funny.
Yeeah! Good day.