Ecuador has a bright, colorful and pervasive tourism campaign: Ama La Vida, or Love Life. This positive message speaks to the vast diversity of Ecuador's population in people, animals and plants alike, as well was the warmth and vibrancy of its culture. Last weekend, a fellow volunteer and I chose to love Ecuador's life in the nearby town of Latacunga. We made the three-hour bus journey on Saturday and enjoyed the beautiful markets and historic area. We cheered on the USA soccer team in its World Cup game from a little cafe. We also climbed to a statue on a far side of town that overlooked the whole place and enjoyed the view. Though it's not too far from Puyo, it was significantly colder there. I'm always struck by how quickly the climate changes in such short distances around the mountains in Ecuador.
Sunday, we hired a guide to take us to Quilotoa caldera, a large lake that was formed after a volcanic eruption. It was a beautiful day, but so windy. We hiked down the sides of the crater on a path mostly comprised of sand to the greenish teal water and took it all in. Ecuador is really beautiful, and the lake at Quilotoa is no exception. After taking a few photos and shaking the sand out of our shoes, we looked back up at our path. It looked so much steeper from below! Many of the tourists hired guides with horses to carry them to the top, but after spending so much time on a bus the day before, we were excited for the exercise. This long path was tough (or "fuerte," as our guide had warned us), especially with the wind blowing sand around our faces, but when we reached the top, it felt like we had really accomplished something.