A minha Lista de blogues

terça-feira, 31 de março de 2015


On the way to Otavalo
On the way to Otavalo

Otavalo is an indigenous town surrounded by mountains. It is famous for its textiles usually made of alpaca and llama, which are sold in the Plaza de los Ponchos, the oldest handcraft market of South America: working since the 17th century. 

There you can find handmade blankets, tablecloths, ponchos, tagua nut jewelry and much more. Nearby is Cotacachi, the centre of Ecuador's leather industry.

Cayambe volcano
Cayambe volcano

In Quito you can find a market that sells textiles from Otavalo- it is the famous Mercado Artesanal la Mariscal. What really makes Otavalo special is the Andes landscape.

domingo, 29 de março de 2015

Mitad del Mundo

In Quito, Ecuador there are two sites that claim they are the centre of the world.

One is a 30-meter-tall pyramid constructed between 1979 and 1982 with each side facing a cardinal direction, topped by a globe.

Many tourists have their pictures taken with a leg on each side of the line drawn down the center of the staircase and across the plaza.

The other place is a private attraction, known as the Intiñan Solar Museum built to mark the true line of the Equator measured with GPS. It is 300 m far from the other. 

It is an amusement for tourists as tour guides demonstrate tricks, which are supposedly possible only on the Equator, such as water flowing both counter-clockwise and clockwise down a drain due to Coriolis effect, balancing eggs on end, weakening of muscles due to latitude or the difficulty to walk across the line of the Equator with both arms outstretched and eyes closed. 

The first one may not be in the right place, but some people say the second is also missing the correct line. Whoever is right, the first one is more imposing but in both I enjoyed taking pictures with one leg in the north and the other in the south.

sábado, 28 de março de 2015

Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve

Pululahua is a protected area 17 km north of Quito, near La Mitad del Mundo. It was declared a geobotanical reserve because of its biological diversity with around 2000 species of flora and a great diversity of birds.

The Pululuhua is an active volcano, although there has been no eruption for 2000 years. It is the second largest inhabited crater in the world - 12 km in diameter. There are around 30 families living in this community. They have a school there but no TV or cell phone signals. When I asked the guide if they had a police station there he told me it was not needed because they were very peaceful and explained that in small communities the punishments were given by the neighbours. For instance if someone committed a crime, people took off his/her clothes and made the criminal walk around the village naked while he/she was beaten with nettles.

Holding a piece of Tagua
There are some shops at the entrance. They sell many products made of Tagua, the seed of a tree from Ecuador.

With our very nice guide and driver, Giovanny


Cotopaxi is the second highest active volcano in the world. At its summit, Cotopaxi  is 5897 m and has a 800 m wide crater, 250 m deep.

The first record of its eruption dates back to 1534. According to tradition, during a decisive battle between the Spanish invaders and the natives the volcano erupted. As the indigenous people worshiped the volcano, they saw it as a sudden rage. On the other side, the Spanish were terrified because they had never witnessed anything like that. The final result: the fight stopped and the Spanish won.

Later the volcano erupted many times. Nowadays scientists are monitoring it 24 hours a day.

Every year hundreds of climbers attempt to reach the summit of the volcano. About half of them succeed the other half surrender to the lack of preparation, the shortage of oxygen or the bad weather. As I was told, the ascent to Cotopaxi is not considered difficult, but nobody without experiment and training should ever try to climb it. Quito at 2850 m above sea level is a great introduction to acclimatization (Cotopaxi is about 80 km south of Quito).

You can access it by car. Our tourist guide drove us from Quito through the Machachi entrance (3200m). 

There we changed cars and the mountain guide took us until the end of the road to the refuge (around 35 km). He drove very slowly and stopped several times for us to walk, take pictures, and above all to get used to the altitude.

It is fantastic to observe the different landscapes, starting with pine trees and how they get drier as we drive up. 

When we reached the end of the road it was around 4500 meters. We could see the refuge perfectly (4880 m). People who try to climb the volcano should rest there and start the ascent just after midnight, when the snow is in better condition and the bridges over the crevasses are safer. My idea was never to climb the volcano, but to reach the refuge, which seemed so close. We left the car in the parking lot and started to climb...

The guide told me those hundred meters to reach the refuge could take me an hour. I only climbed around 100 meters. 

Although I could still breathe normally, and I was talking a lot, I started feeling very tired, so I decided to go back to the car with Giovanny, the tourist guide from G Equa Tour. 

Pico El Águila

In 2008 I was in Pico El Águila or Collado del Cóndor in Mérida, the Venezuelan Andes, which has a height of 4118m. Cotopaxi is the heighest place I have ever been

My husband tried a little further and the mountain guide told me he must have practiced sports in his youth, which he did, because he was taking it easily. Unfortunately it started to snow heavily and as he was not wearing proper clothes, which should include an impermeable jacket, they decided to come back, too.

On the way back to the entrance of the national park we stopped at a glacial lagoon, Limpiopungo, and also visited the interpretation centre.

Cotopaxi means “neck of the moon” in indigenous language. It is the second highest summit in Ecuador. Chimborazo is the highest. At 6310 m above sea level  it is the closest point on Earth to the sun.

This place should be on the list of the things you should visit before you die.

Cotopaxi, 23/3/2015