Finding real rewards – a Quilotoa Loop trek experience (Part Three)
I felt a little bit of anxiety since today was our last trekking day to reach the Quilotoa Lagoon and I didn’t want to return to the city problems. The room we stayed at in Mama Hilda was a lot bigger than in Insilivi and so was my bed. We slept in a duplex suite with a chimney, where the girls decided to sleep upstairs and so I took the queen-size bed on the first floor. We woke up early in the morning and had breakfast with the others. The breakfast in Mama Hilda was really good and gave us loads of energy, although we were still very tired from the day before.
After we packed and checked out we started the hike right away. Dominik introduced us to a very fun game called “Contact”. The rules were simple: One person thinks of a secret main word and reveals the first letter of it. The others have to think of words starting with that letter and try to describe them – ideally in a way that everyone but the main word holder can guess them. If two persons are thinking to know the word, they have to say “Contact, one, two, three” and the word. If they say the same word, the person who thought of the main word has to reveal one more letter. And it goes on till someone finds the main word, in which case she or he has the right to pick another main word.
It was a really funny game and helped us to keep going the long way. The landscapes became more interesting too since we crossed rivers and waterfalls.
After some time we reached the Quilotoa crater that we climbed up to get to the top of it and also to the lagoon. It was not as steep as the hill the day before, but the path was like a zigzag. I was already tired when we arrived there but the uphill hike was way easier than last time, although we couldn’t see the end once again. Sometimes we were taking shortcuts, which required a lot of energy and afterwards I had to rest for about 15 to 25 minutes.
I saw a sign far away from me, which I focused on and helped me to keep going. After a while the group was split up as all of us were taking the climbing at different pace. I reached the sign after a long time, but the goal was still far away. There was no time to feel tired, I had to keep going. My feet started to hurt a little bit, so I changed my way of walking. Also the weather changed, it got colder but that was a good sign because it meant that I was getting closer to the lagoon. A wooden hut appeared on the horizon that gave me an extra boost of motivation because I thought I could rest and eat something there to replenish my energy. Jenny caught up with me but there was no sight of the others. Looking back was not a displeasing action, I could barely believe how much we already walked. From there it took us about an hour till we finally reached the wooden hut which sold beers. There it was: the majestic Quilotoa lagoon, something I have just seen in pictures. The real thing was indescribable beautiful.
The others were already drinking some beers, and Dominik offered me one. It tasted like success. All the effort was totally worth it, I felt really accomplished. We stayed there for about an hour, just sitting on a bench and admiring the lagoon. We took many pictures and motivated each other to get ready again as the journey was not over yet. Annet and Ayke had a discussion about which path to take in order to reach the town of Quilotoa. Most of us agreed with Ayke, and so we took her path but we reached a dead end and had to walk back. Everyone was like a zombie and to find the path was not as easy as before. We finally reached the peaks of Quilotoa and started to walk up and down, which was very tough but the view and the sunlight gave us energy and motivation.
When we finally arrived in Quilotoa town, I recognized that there were a lot of horses for the people who wanted to go down to the lagoon. The town was delightful and full of bars, restaurants and hotels – every building mostly made of wood. We met the other group that we already knew from Llullu Llama and wanted to stay in the same hostel with them but sadly it was already full. Some accommodations were really basic, and everyone decided to stay at one of them, except me. I preferred to pay a little bit more and go to a hotel called “Princesa Toa”. The others didn’t really like my decision, and I also think that it wasn’t a very social action but I guess I needed some time alone. I got a special price and a really big room with three beds, which was too much for me but it was very conformable. I had dinner in a restaurant in front of the hotel, where I got to know a Spanish family of a mother and two daughters about my age. They invited me to eat with them, which was very friendly and I enjoyed their company. Later that night I had an argument with my landlord and my ex-girlfriend on the phone, which wasn’t fun at all.
The next day Jenny and Ayke told me that Annet went nuts early in the morning and also that the hotel was very cold. I guess I did a good choice in going to the other hotel after all, but I was actually missing them. After breakfast we went down to the lagoon. Ayke, Dominik and Annet took a swim in the lagoon, but a guard showed up and told us that it is forbidden to swim in the lagoon, what we didn’t knew about before. The path down was really long so Jenny and I decided to return back up on a horse. It wasn’t a great experience to be honest, because there were too many horses. Back in Quilotoa town we enjoyed delicious fried trout, some beers and played some rounds of 40. We missed the bus because the last game was way too much fun and we couldn’t stop. One of the waitresses suggested us to take a ride to a town nearby to catch another bus coming from Baños. We decided to do it and returned back to Quito.
Every day had its special moments and although there were exhausting sometimes, I was so overwhelmed and happy. The biggest reward of hiking on the Quilotoa Loop was to meet so many people and making new friends in the hostels, in the villages, in the towns and even on taxis and busses – everyone with their individual stories and goals. Discovering our planet Earth is the gate to discover other worlds inside of people’s hearts.
Esteban Almeida D.