Monday, February 13, 2017

2017 Ecuador Cayambe/Antisana Skills Expedition (February 10 - 24) - Dispatch 1

February 11th Dispatch

Climbers: Michael Watson, Glenn and David Booth, Eric Safieh, Eric and Loic Vincent, Susan Mullins, Dean Doyle, James Murray, Tom Fry

Lead Guide: Jeremy Devine

Jeremy wrote:

Everyone has arrived safely for their climbing adventures in Ecuador!

This morning we met for a trip presentation and slideshow highlighting our climbing objectives ahead. We also did an equipment check to make sure everyone had what they needed for our climbs. The group was really well-prepared with only a few missing items that we were able to obtain in local gear shops here in Quito (9500 ft / 2895 m). We also made a quick stop on the way out of town to try on rental boots for those in need. With our equipment business wrapped up, we headed to Otovalo for their Saturday outdoor market.

On our drive we crossed the equator! There was no sign present to indicate we were at the crossing, most likely due to local authorities wanting to prevent increased traffic and potential accidents caused by people stopping on the shoulder of the Pan-American highway. We arrived in Otovalo in the early afternoon and went to lunch at Mi Otovallito, a lively lunch spot with flute players and excellent service.

After lunch we split off to explore the market. There were many craft merchants selling alpaca blankets, ponchos, art, jewelry, and if you went down the right aisle you'd find more typical goods geared toward locals, including shoes, pants, sweatshirts, and belts. We enjoyed our time in the market and started our drive back to Quito in the late afternoon. Clouds had been building all day and it was obvious rain was falling on the hills in the afternoon.

The drive back was highlighted by a stop for bizcochos and coffee. Susan and Dean likened the bizcochos to pie crusts - Yum! They're sweet and go very well dipped in coffee, like biscotti. We also saw a long parade of cars displaying flags for a local presidential candidate that obviously has broad support in the Cayambe district. Elections are being held next Sunday, Feb. 19th. It's exciting to be in Ecuador during an election and to witness their democracy in its active process! Interestingly, as well, it is mandatory for people 18-65 years of age to vote here, and optional for 16-17 year-olds and those over 65.

I'll write more, tomorrow, after our first acclimatization hike, Cerro Pasochoa. Chao!

Some of our team enjoying bizcochos and coffee.

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