One month Left in a Foreign Land

December is upon us! Christmas will be here in the blink of an eye (actually I just blinked now and it’s still not here), and I’m coming back to Kansas very soon! Now is the time to decide what I should do before leaving Ecuador. I have traveled so much I don’t have any other place I am DYING to go to, except to climb to the top of Cotopaxi, the second largest mountain in Ecuador. Someone told me it’s nearly 20 thousand feet. I can’t wait. My friend Katie Pinson and I went searching for a company to guide us up this gigantic mountain on Saturday. There is a sector in Quito called “The Mariscal” where many tourists go to sign up for exciting excursions to the jungle, the Galapagos, and hikes up humongous mountains. Katie and I walked down the street and walked into any office that had large pictures of Cotopaxi on the outside window. It was kind of like searching for the best place that sells brownies in a mall. Except we’re searching for people. The first place we went sounded promising (and cheaper than any other place), but after going back there a second time to learn more details we realized the company sounded a little sketchy. Many people have told us we need good guides to help us make it up the mountain. Here’s what happens. Whatever company we choose will pick us up in Quito and drive us about 2 hours to the base of Cotopaxi. That afternoon we learn about using ice picks and wearing special shoes and hiking on an icy mountain. We also begin to get acclimatized to the altitude. Then we eat supper super early and go to bed EARLY. At midnight, everyone wakes up and we head on our trek. We have to leave very early (or late at night) because the ice becomes slippery when the sun wakes up, so we have to be at the top of Cotopaxi by around 7 or 8 am. Finally we take a few photos and head down the mountain. There is a guide for every two people hiking, and I think three people are attached together with ropes. A friend of mine went a few weeks ago and loved the experience. We are planning on hiking up Cotopaxi the last full weekend we are here in Ecuador. I have been looking forward to this all semester. I also have been appreciating the constant warm weather here. I saw that in North Newton this morning it was very cold. One month left!