Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Greetings from the Andean Cowgirl!

I had a free day here in Quito, Ecuador, so I planned a little adventure for myself - a trail ride around the crater of Pululahua volcano, apparently the only volcanic crater in the world that is inhabited. It is a vast fertile plain, inhabited by about 45 families, one of them my wonderful guide, Astrid Mueller. Here she is brandishing her machete, which she used to clear some of our paths.

Here I am on my mount, Morgana. See my hurt foot, still in a brace and silly open shoe since my foot doesn't fit in my other shoes yet?

It was beautiful, and a bit surreal. I mean, this is an "active" volcano that erupts every 4000 years or so. It is due to erupt again in about 500 years. But every so often, there are mild eruptions. One such eruption 70 years ago wiped out 3 farms. I can't see myself setting up house there. In fact, I'm surprised I went in there. We came in over the crater walls, and I forgot to take a photo, it was so breathtaking. We were above the clouds, and then drove 15 km down the side of the crater to the crater floor to reach the ranch. Once we saddled up, the 4 hour ride included riding through some farms and through some ancient pre-Incan footpaths, and I swear my horse was part mountain goat. There are some places we went that I wouldn't want to go on my own two feet. And it was so exhilarating to gallop around out there. I was the only client, so everything was at my pace. It has been 10 years since I have been on a horse, and even then it was just a sedate trail ride outside Las Vegas. It has been 20 years or more since I've ridden like this. AWESOME!