Sad, but not tragic. A forced opportunity. Maybe even a fortunate adaptation…fuck it. Let's make taco salad.


We jumped a bus south and pulled out of Quito for the last time.  The Sister was quite jubilant.  We were heading for Quilatoa, a tiny town on the edge of a volcano crater at about 12,000 feet.  The first bus was on the main highway, but when we transferred in Latacunga, the scene took a decidedly native turn.  A blind guy jumped on the bus and played some sweet tunes for us on his guitar…also clearly worth a quarter.

Our second bus went up and over a mountain range through indigenous lands.  We were only about half full when we left the terminal, but people can get on and off these busses anywhere along the ride and soon we were packed to overflowing with indigenous folks carrying babies, boxes, and bags.  At seemingly blank spots on the highway, the bus would stop and a group of them would get off and wander down the hillside.  (Sister says, “Where do they go??”)  It is amazing the ability these people have to scratch out a home on the edge of a 45 degree slope – concrete home, thatch outbuilding, animals, farm plot, all on land that we would consider uninhabitable.  Even more amazing is the infectious smiles on their faces.

Quilatoa is a tiny town (30 buildings?) that lives right on the edge of a beautiful volcano crater.  We stayed in a large house that served as a hostel.  Oh, and it was really fucking cold.  Seriously.  We had to climb into bed together with all our clothes on to try and stay warm. But I couldn’t sleep anyway because of the altitude.  Neither of us took a shower in the morning because we were too cold to get undressed.

But the view and the hike around the crater the next morning made it all worthwhile.  We had an excellent tour guide who was waiting outside the door for us in the morning and accompanied us the entire way.  Holly wanted to take Perrito with us, but I thought the fleas might get to be a drag.

We only went about ½ mile around the rim (otherwise, my sorry gringo lungs would have burst into flames), but the view was spectacular.  We ran into a couple of kids along the trail who have lived on the edge of the crater for 11 years.  Their job was to take care of the animals – 2 horses, 5 llamas, 22 sheep, and 3 dogs…for now.  (It does seem that birth control isn’t really on the radar down here, for dogs or for humans.)

Their house and “barn” were cut into the hill on the outside of the crater rim and the llamas were staked out 100 yards down inside the crater.  They were so excited just to talk to us, but their first question was “how much does it cost to buy a horse in the US?”  I guess that explains the priorities.



Even though I don’t really dig kids myself, you couldn’t help but fall in love with the natives here in their velvet skirts, cute round hats, rosy dark-freckled cheeks, and huge smiles.  I put one in my bag so I could check it out later.

The bus ride back was a fucking nightmare.  I had someone’s box of corn under my legs and someone else’s baby (literally) laying on my lap while it sucked for two hours on mom’s quite unattractive breast (can’t help but look when the damn thing is 18 inches away).  I better get used to this bus thing…1000 miles more to go before we pick up the parents in 20 days in Southern Peru.  We’re heading to the pharmacia in Baños to pick up some Xanax.

One Response to “Quilatoa”

  1. She Spat says:

    OMG Casey, incredible photographs!


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