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Mar '12

Our Ecuadorian abuela

What do you think of when you think of a great Grandma?

If your grandma is anything like ours are – she’s a kind and loving person whose generosity is rivaled only by her great cooking skills, not to mention a home with all sorts of places to explore.

Well, last weekend, we were lucky enough to meet our Ecuadorian abuela (grandma), Aida.

Abuela Aida

Aida meets all the requirements of a great grandma and we were lucky enough to happen upon her hostel in a tiny village called La Esperanza (meaning The Hope), which is very appropriate considering the reason we were there at all.

As you may have noticed, Aaron and I have reignited our love for hiking while in Ecuador. After finishing spanish lessons and volunteering, we now have lots of free time while travelling and so we’ve been basically been going from mountain to mountain and sightseeing in the cities along the way.

Our first big climb was a mountain called “Rucu Pichincha.”  It is located 3 hours above the Teleferiqo (think ski lift style gondola without the snow) in Quito. At about 15,400 feet, this mountain is taller than any mountain in the contiguous USA. It was a hard hike (Ecuador either hasn’t heard of or has outright rejected the switchback) but had some amazing views, and helped to prepare us for our next conquest, Volcan Imbabura.

lifting my arms was a feat in itself at this point 🙂

Imbabura is at about the same elevation as Rucu Pichincha, but without the luxury of the Teleferiqo to take away about half the altitude gain. The easiest way to climb this mountain is to stay in the little village of La Esperanza, then get a camioneta (light truck) to drive you up the dirt road until it ends and then start hiking. The hike takes between 7 and 9 hours so this would be the longest hike we’ve completed yet. We started right about 7am and were blessed to have sunshine and clear skies (it rained both the day before and after and had been cloudy for a week!). The views were stunning. We were able to see many other volcanoes and could see the Andes mountain range for miles.

The hike itself was another story-straight up through grasslands which ended only when we arrived at a rock scramble for another 1.5 hours. When we finally reached the top, the clouds had rolled in, so we were only able to take a couple of non-descript photos of the summit before heading down out of the cold.

Can you spot Aaron?

We arrived back at “Casa Aida” 7.5 hours later and were treated to by far the best meal we have had in Ecuador, rivaled only by the dinner she’d made the night before! It was exactly the meal we needed to recover after our hike.

Our time in La Esperanza definitely gave us the hope that we need for the next conquest: This coming weekend, Aaron will be attempting a summit of Volcan Cotopaxi, a quintessential volcano (and the highest active volcano in the world) towering over Ecuador at 19,347 feet. This is one of the few mountains in the world at this altitude that can be summited by non-technically experienced climbers (not to discount the half day crampon and ice-pick training they give you). But, the hike is still grueling: You begin hiking at midnight, and after hiking up a glacier for 6 hours, arrive at the summit where you take a quick break before heading down to beat the melting snow.  Wish him luck – and if you have any tips or words of encouragement please let us know!  We’ll keep you updated on his progress and details on the hike!

Cotopaxi, complete with llama


5 comments to “Our Ecuadorian abuela”

  1. Elaine Olson Says:

    Wow, you two are adventurous! Enjoy this all while you are young! Good luck to Aaron climbing the active volcano. We hope it all goes well. We love your posts and are thinking of you!
    Aunt Elaine and Uncle Wayne

  2. Shelley Says:

    Abby: My only comment on this latest post is “Why aren’t you going on this big hike with Aaron??”
    Sounds like it’s just one amazing adventure after another for you two!! Love to you both!

  3. Abby Says:

    It’s a good question Shelley! While Aaron is excited by the prospect of hiking up a glacier in pitch black darkness, I, on the other hand, am terrified! 🙂

  4. Don Berg Says:

    Sure enjoy your blog and your pics. Tell me (again) what camera you are using, plz.

    God continue to watch over you and use you as a blessing to others!

  5. Abby Says:

    Hi Pastor Berg-Great to hear from you! Our camera is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. I know they have come out with at least one newer model of the series. They are great cameras!

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