Location: Quito to Chugchilan

We traversed the near impossible terrain, dust flying into the air as we skidded down the dirt path. People wiped out, sliding down the pebbles and getting up, their clothes turned a light shade of beige. We finally arrived at our destination, the turquoise waters of the lake at Quilotoa Crater. Walls of earth bathed in the green of trees surrounded the lake, and as we looked back, we saw the snaking trail that we had descended, dotted with hikers braving the path. The sight was truly breath-taking, the lake green at the edges and turning a darker shade of blue near the center. It looked as if a giant bowl had been carved into the earth, and filled with the most pristine water in Ecuador. We went down to the lake and touched the water, skipping stones and pondering the possibility of fish inhabiting the depths. We felt drops of water start to pelt us, and decided to return to the bus before it started to pour. We then started the difficult journey up the hill — the easy trail we had once descended turned into an exhausting endeavor, as we battled uphill against gravity. We groaned and wailed as we slowly ascended, the sand under our feet sliding us downhill with each step. The lack of oxygen also contributed to the difficulty of the hike, as we all felt our lungs ache and our chests heave in a desperate attempt to provide us with the strength to go on. Finally, we bested the challenge and found shelter in a nearby hostel. We found warmth, rest and refreshments there. We talked for about a half hour before we boarded the bus to continue our way to The Black Sheep Hotel. Some people suffered from the side effects of altitude sickness, causing people to barf multiple times and blacking out while riding donkeys. One member (a Scot who shall not be named) was given altitude sickness pills to help with their altitude sickness. During the bus ride back, they were in an, let’s say, woozy, state. They were laughing and making mind-bending observations, such as that our bus had a backward window. The bus provided the perfect environment to learn about our peers and make fast friends with them. Without electronic distractions, we discussed many things, including politics, philosophy, science, school, and the subtleties of life. After many hours of laughing and talking, we left for our next destination, the Black Sheep Eco Hotel. We were given time to rest and explore the broad reaches of the hotel, finding lamas, sheep, and stick bugs. We then were given a wonderful dinner (a delicious soup followed by a savory dish of potatoes, cheese, and various beans, and finished by a bowl of star fruit). We then retired to a bonfire after feeding a llama and talked well into the later hours of the night.