Finding real rewards – a Quilotoa Loop trek experience (Part Two)
I woke up very early in the morning, it was cold and after such a great experience outdoors it felt like my room was too small. My room was next to the living room from where I could see the yoga room. I started to spy out of my room to see if someone already woke up or was waiting in the yoga room. No one was around, so I decided to relax in my bed for a while. I had many things on my mind and could not sleep. I started to hear steps and laughs but I was so immerse in my thoughts that I stayed in my room. I was already too late for the yoga but by no means was I going to skip the breakfast. I did not regret that I was not taking part in the yoga class, because it was going to be a really tough day to hike to Chugchilan and the extra time of resting in bed proved itself valuable.
I met with Ayke and Jenny at the public bathrooms, where they finished brushing their teeth. I asked them for toothpaste as I forgot to bring some. The breakfast was delightful and consisted of tons of cereal, bread and eggs. Once again people from all over the world shared their sights and different aspects of their daily life. The girls arrived later as they were packing up upstairs and by the time they arrived everyone else, including me, was already finished with breakfast but I stayed to talk about today’s plan. The trek to Chugchilan looked easy on the map, little did I know about the hiking challenge that was coming. Many people started to leave the hostel and after some nice farewells some of the last ones at the reception were the SOLEQ team, an Australian guy named Dominik and a Dutch woman named Annet. Once everyone else left we decided to form a bigger group all together. It felt really great like a role playing videogame where new characters join your party.
So the mission of today started: In the beginning we were taking a few breaks in between so Annet decided to go ahead and keep going. We crossed rivers and mountains; the landscape was unbelievable beautiful even for a mountain boy like me. After a few hours we reached a little valley where we found other travelers doing the trek backwards. They told us that we would reach Chugchilan in less than 3 hours. Everything seemed easy and I thought we would make it in less than 3 hours, as they said. Two dogs appeared and started to follow us. They were a little bit annoying but I guess in the end, such as Dominik and Annet, they joined our party.
We reached a little restaurant on the middle of the road, where the elder scientist from England was eating with her friend and their private guide. I asked the guide how long it would be till we reach Chugchilan and he said that it will be about 1 hour. I didn’t understand why, since the remaining distance seemed really short on the map. And then it appeared, a hill so steep I felt tired instantly. Nevertheless I used some of the energy I saved and walked up very fast just to find another cliff! I was surprised but once again I climbed it yet another cliff was waiting. I used up all my energy and wasn’t sure how far I was from reaching the top but I was at my limit. This was really the hardest challenge on the whole trip. Jenny started to rest longer than the others so I decided to wait for her and recover, too. I realized I would have to take it slow if wanted to make it. I was exhausted, and to be honest I wanted to give up many times. Then I finally saw the end but I didn’t rush. I took a long rest and then used all that energy I had left to finish it, I felt amazing. It was a feeling I didn’t had in years, a real reward. I made it, I escaped my city life and enjoyed the simple things in life. Jenny arrived and we took some pictures to remember the achievement.
Not far from the peak we found a wooden pavilion, where everyone was sitting including Annet, the dogs and also some kids that lived nearby. They were playing with wooden carts, which was nice to watch. The exercise also did wonders to my senses, I could feel the breeze and notice details like little flowers on the landscape now. We walked a little bit further to the town of Chugchilan and found a local restaurant where some of the travelers we met in Llullu Llama were eating. We enjoyed a simple but delicious dish, chicken with rice, and drank some beers to refresh our bodies. Most of the travelers were staying at an hostel nearby, called “El Vaquero”, but we already had a reservation at Mama Hilda so we continued our way after wishing the best to the others. Dominik and Annet decided to stay with us. Close to our hostel, a group of street dogs appeared. They were around ten! Luckily we discovered that Fido, one of the dogs that joined our party earlier, was really good at fighting and protected us from the other dogs. None of the animals was damaged.
Finally we arrived at Mama Hilda Hostel. Everyone was super tired and wanted to take a shower. We took turns for showering and later on we enjoyed a great dinner. The waiter was very friendly. After that we started to play cuarenta but suddenly Annet had an argument with her boyfriend on the phone. She screamed really loud. I felt bad for her although I remembered that I was very jealous with my ex-girlfriend as well.
Esteban Almeida D.