We get up relatively early because we want to visit the Laguna Cuicocha today. The breakfast in the Valle de Amanecer has not changed in the 7 years. There are still the pancakes with banana and chocolate sauce and for me fruit salad with yoghurt (“sin granola y sin papaya”, but “con mucho banana”).
At the bus station we successfully work our way past the “À Quito, à Quito, à Quito, à Quito” yelling gentlemen (…of course all the tourists want to go to Quito ). I tell a particularly helpful looking one that we want to go to Cuicocha. He directs us to a bus at the far left going to Cotacachi.
I also tell the bus driver that we would like to go to Cuicocha. The bus ride costs about 0,40 USD per person. But there is no gringo tax here. If you give a dollar to the money collector who walks through the bus, you get the correct change back like all locals.
The bus driver kindly drops us off at the right place instead of driving us to the centre of Cotacachi. There are taxis waiting at the square to take us to the lagoon. A taxi ride costs 5 USD. When we arrive at the top of the lagoon the taxi driver asks us if he should pick us up again. Sure! Why not? We estimate that we will be there again in 4 hours. In case it will be earlier or later, we also get his phone number .
We are driven to the edge of the lagoon and start from there. The entrance to the park is free. We climb a few meters in the direction of the circular path and then start walking clockwise. The path is pleasant to walk and we are lucky because it is not muddy. I remember my last visit here, where we stood with our feet in the mud.
This can happen quite quickly here, which should be considered when planning a hike. We walk about 1.5 hours until we can’t get any further at one point. A landslide has broken the way away… Hmm, I don’t want to climb over here now, so we follow the same path back. Not bad, but I think that’s why we walked farther than just following the circuit.
On the way you have to climb a couple of times over barbed wire, which is stretched out to keep the most dangerous creatures of earth in check… cows. I have to say, I actually always have a little respect for grazing cow herds. Maybe it’s the same statistics that make me admire a shark so relaxed in the water. There are simply much more people killed by cows than by sharks… At this point I will save you from the distance I’m keeing from coconut palms based on similar statistics for another opportunity.
Whatever. We do not fall victim to the statistics and return to the starting point after about 3.5 hours. Our taxi driver is already waiting there. He gets us into the city centre of Cotacachi for 6 USD (it is a little further away). Since there is no market day, there is not much going on here. On Saturdays there is more activity because Cotacachi is known for a wide range of leather goods.
But since we are quite exhausted we find us a nice little restaurant. On the menu there is just 1 dish. “Carne colorada”. Since this is coincidentally also the most traditional food of this region, we are pleased. Very delicious. It resembles a little bit a goulash with very little sauce. In other words long cooked and very tender meat. Mario is totally happy because he can order an Inca Kola here… I absolutely can’t understand – how can you like this extremely sweet stuff?
With a full stomach we make our way back home. Since the mobile phone is malfunctioning, I decide that we can find the station by ourselves… At least I think I still know where it is. Mario is skeptical, from his experience with my rather rudimentary sense of orientation.
Hahaaa… I DO find the bus station. Man I am proud, after all it was 7 years ago and I was only here once! I’m really expecting a round of applause at this point. Mario says something about blind hens and corn… but I ignore that graciously .
In the evening we have Nachos and Pisco Sour in the restaurant “Buena Vista”. Even wine is on the menu! We fall totally tired into bed after dinner.