“Climate change” in Ecuador
The air from the aircon feels warm, the sun is searing in from the windscreen and my top is stuck to my damp back. We’re approaching the equator in Ecuador, and the climate is definitely tropical! The panamericana highway cuts across huge banana and coco plantations, some of them hundreds of hectares in size. We stop to buy some bananas from a roadside salesman and pay only a dollar for a bunch of 20 bananas. By the looks of things, banana farming isn’t gonna make you rich around here!
We never would have guessed that by the next evening we’d have to stick the gas heating on, even though we’d got closer to the equator! The sudden change in climate is due to the gradual climb from sea level up to the highlands, to an altitude of 3km or so at lake Colta. The clouds hang low as we wander around the park, taking photos of beautiful flower arrangements and a herd of black, yellow beaked ducks, swimming near the shore. A cardigan and warm pumpkin soup warm me up nicely as we sit and enjoy the evening in front of our camper.
When we wake up in the morning, I can hardly believe my eyes; the clouds have gone and from our window I can see the sun brightly reflecting off a snowy mountain top. The view that has now opened up before us is of Chimborazo, a volcano reaching up to 6310m high. We take a morning walk to the village’s charming piece of history, the oldest Catholic church in Ecuador. The 16th century stone building looks very quaint against the snowy, giant of a mountain in the background.
I might be raising some questions amongst the locals by crouching down in the rose bushes on the church yard for some time. Some of them might have noticed the gps reader in my hand. A small, Nano sized geocache is hiding in the metal fence, tucked behind the rose bushes and takes a bit of effort to be found. It makes the moment all the sweeter when I get to log this cache as my first in Ecuador.
Our journey continues on to the little town of Baños, situated at the base of Tungurahua-volcano. Feeling a bit nervous about the possibility of an eruption, we investigate the evacuation procedures. The previous eruption happened over 10 years ago, and for now the mountain looks peaceful enough, thank goodness. We leave Epeli at the cosy “Vulcano” campsite and climb about a kilometre up the exhaustingly steep mountain to a health spa, built on natural, volcanic hot springs. I’ve got goosebumps as I stand by the pool in the cold mountain breeze, but that only makes the dip into the warm, bubbly, mineral rich water even more enjoyable.