Still no word on the bank card but I did a little guiding so I have some pocket money at least. Unfortunately as I live at Moggely's now in a nightclub hotspot I need to show some financial discipline. That reminds me. I need to clear my tab next door. :(
Okay maybe it isn't a "recent adventure" but I do have a work update. I'm finishing the website for The Andes Range Hostel, Tour Operator, and Export business. I'm not completely satisfied with the look and feel but since I was mostly inserting his formatted text and photos into my website framework my hands were tied. There are still a few tweaks but I am essentially done. This means I'll be moving out of his hostel to Moggely House. I'll lose the posh comforts that I enjoy here, but the location will be far better.
In other news I am still waiting on my bank card to arrive. On the 16th I discovered that my card was expired with $6.06 in my pocket. D'oh! It wasn't until the 20th that I had a plan. On the next day my sister dropped a replacement into the mail. It is temporarily deactivated. I've seen some mail arrive from Ohio in 5 days so I am hopeful it's arrival is imminent. Fortunately with the people I know down here I am not in any immediate trouble, but still I'm down to $3.06.
I said goodbye to Nadine and Christine this morning. I've spent most of the month with them and have really had a great time. Vaya bien. Maybe I'll see you in the Alps. Nadine said she would climb the Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, and Monte Rosa with me while Christine would show me around Bern and Interlocken. That sounds pretty good to me. So how can I swing a trip to Switzerland? Anybody want to sponsor me?
Nadine and Christine returned from their respective trips today. Nadine added Chimborazo (6,310 m) to her list of mountain victories and Christine brought back nearly 200 pictures from the Galapagos. Both had good times and I am quite jealous as I haven't done either of those two things yet. We spent a little time next door at the Hot Potato but they were ragged and couldn't stay out. Arthur and I made a brief visit to the Public House for a drink where we barely escaped the clutches of two local girls.
One last mountain with the maidens from Switzerland. It is a quick hike to the summit from the car park and makes for a good half day trip from Quito. It isn't much time above 4000 meters but it is an enjoyable trip for sure. Nadine heads to Cotopaxi the next day so it should help her more than another day at a mere 2800. Christine heads to the Galapagos for 5 days. We meet again on the 21st. Good luck and have fun!
Hey looking at the date I am reminded that this is my 6th month anniversary in Ecuador. All my extensions are used up and I will be illegal on the 16th. Sssshh. Don't tell immigration.
Well they haven't gotten tired of me yet. Sunday morning we sorted ourselves after a night of medicinal drinking and made some plans for later in the day after I stopped home to take care of some business. That afternoon I showed them around the old town a little and we took in some views from the Panacillo. Cotopaxi, Antisana, and Cayambe were all plainly visible on the horizon. Wow.
Monday our plans were for a visit to Mitad del Mundo and around. We checked out the Monument at Mitad del Mundo and the various artesania shops. Then (new for me) we visited the Inti Ñan museum. This museum actually is on the equator and although it looked cheesy it was really a great stop. I highly recommend it. I thought it was just a equatorial/solar museum but it had more than that including an English speaking guide. The Coriolis Effect demonstration was interesting. Coriolis Effect on the equator (41.6 MB) Coriolis Effect north and south of the equator (25.9 MB) The demostration appeared to confirm that water in the northern hemisphere goes down a drain clockwise. And that it drains counterclockwise in the southern hemisphere. Right on the equator there was no spin. The problem is that this, on this scale, is a myth. Watch the movies. What do you think?
The drinking and purging of the previous night behind them, Nadine and Christine were off to Iliniza Norte to further acclimatize for climbing Cotopaxi. I was leading this climb and Arthur was there to get some mountain experience, make tasty soup, and crash the car (more on that later).
Nadine is a climber but this was Christine's first mountain ever. The climb was fantastic and all four of us really enjoyed it. We stayed in the hut making both days quite short for us and maximizing our time above 4400 meters. The weather was the best I've had on a mountain since sometime in Colorado. The views were magnificent.
I am proud to say that in the climber's hut Christine called me the Best Guide Ever but I think it had more to do with the massage than my mountain craft. Maybe not.
We woke at 05.00 to perfect weather and it stayed that way for our entire climb. We took the direct ridge route as dawn arrived and were treated to amazing views of the surrounding mountains. Just in case there was some trouble or the conditions dictated, I was carrying rope and associated hardware to stay safe and we all had climbing harnesses. None of it was necessary though. I don't really enjoy carrying a backpack full of metal over 5000 meters but at least I wasn't carrying that bag of potatoes, tomatoes, onions, etc like the day before.
After many movies and photos (around 200 MB on my camera alone) we arrived on the nearly windless summit. Everybody climbed well and there was not even one headache in the group. Congratulations. It was an altitude record for them all and the first mountain climb for two. They were a real pleasure to guide.
The problems started back at the Cruiser. We just started the drive down laughing and joking about the climb when we tipped. The road was deeply rutted and just driving down it you are halfway over already. Arthur doesn't know exactly what happened but one moment we were sloshing from side to side inside the cabin and then we were on two wheels nearly stopped. I remember thinking, "Hey, I think we are going to tip over". Then slowly we passed that point of no return and the Land Cruiser fell over on its side. The fiberglass roof popped off like the lid on a Pringles can and Christine rolled out into the grass with most of the gear. I yelled "Gas! Get out!" because that was the substance currently spilling on my legs. As dramatic as all that seems it was not really that bad an accident. We all walked away although both girls hurt their elbows. Eventually we righted the vehicle with some help from another guide and drove it down to Machachi. The girls really did hurt their elbows though and had some other sore spots. Nadine in particular is hurting still and her injury (to her iceaxe arm) will probably keep her off glaciers during this trip.
I forgot to take pictures of the accident. The aftermath looked rather good with the Cruiser on its side and debris scattered about.
I had a day off here but I found myself back down at the office hanging out with Nadine and Christine. I told them that I could show them a little of the local color. I introduced Nadine to shwarmas, possibly one of the best fast foods ever. We started next door at Hot Potato with some drinks as we recalled the last few days but moved across the street to the Public House when Dee wanted to close down HP. Between those two bars the girls got to see a lot of the local characters and I introduced them to some of my friends. Nadine couldn't last until closing but Christine and I had the staying power. And fortunately there was crash space in their room for me. They are a lot of fun.
Originally I was never supposed to lead this trip but some last minute schedule changes meant that Arthur was needed down at the hostel. Two Swiss girls, Nadine and Christine, had signed up for a bunch of tours that started with 4 days hiking around Papallacta and enjoying the thermal baths. Too bad for Arthur. Hehe.
The first 3 days were 3 - 5 hours hikes between 3500 - 3900 meters. It was good for acclimatization for their planned climbs. Unfortunately the weather was not very good. Every day had some rain and the third day was rather cold. Still it was enjoyable and being that we were staying at a working trout farm the fish was excellent. And I discovered that Morgan had forgotten a full bottle of rum which when mixed in a pot of sangria and a mountain of fruit was a great drink on day 3. Day 4 was just a short hike along a raging stream near the hot baths. There was a light drizzle but nothing could ruin the excitement of soaking in all that hot water. There are lots of different pools of varying temperature at Papallacta and we spent a little over 3 hours steeping in the hot water and trying out the different pools. It was very relaxing.
So that is my job. I get paid to spend four days with pretty Swiss German girls in a secluded mountain home drinking rum and soaking in hot springs. It must suck to not be me.