With just one problem......... In amongst all this hippy, healthy, nature loving palavar I managed to forget on vital fact. I HATE hiking. On day one I was happy - we rode horses, we visited a cheese factory, walked through a cloud forest, galloped through the mountains - I was in heaven and didnt mind a little bit of physical exertion. Day two I over extended myself and agreed to go on a five hour hike from Quilatoa back to Chugchilan. I must have been insane and the warning bells went off when we were driven in the back of a truck for almost an hour to get to the place where we were to start walking home again....hmmmmm, but I put these thoughts aside and started happily at the crater which is the mouth of an old volcano now filled with bright blue water - all very unearthly and lovely. We walked and apart from wheezing like an old woman as we were at 3600 metres all was good. An hour in and the rest of the group have shot ahead while darling Ed valiantly walks with me. Two hours in and I am hobbling down rocky hills Cliff Young style and whimpering, Three hours in I am hobbling more and whimpering louder, Four hours in and I look up to realise we have to walk into the biggest canyon I have ever seen and then climb out the other side, I also realise there is no other way of getting myself home, there are no taxis, buses, trucks, donkeys, nada.. Wheezing, feet and knees screaming and then tripping into a prickly bush and scraping my hand I lose the plot. At the mouth of the canyon I plonk myself on the ground and start howling and crying like a five year old. Poor Ed has to coach me every step of the way and I whinge and whimper all the way down the path as lightfooted locals jog past. Some of the ladies were actually knitting as they walked down this hellish track with sheer drops of thousands of feet just beside them.
Finally we reach the bottom and I am happy for a moment before realising I have to climb an equal distance up the other side. The tears start again and after some hysterical demrands to be left to die in the canyon Ed and I find a solution - he pushes me from behind while I attempt to move my arms and legs uphill in the same direction. It works but is extremely undignified and causes much hilarity in any of the locals that happen to see us....oh the shame!
Finally, all dirty, tearstreaked and hobbling like an aged pensioner with a knee replacement I get home 6 hours later. As I stagger past the other cabins a fifty year old woman that started out with us popped out looking showered and rested - 'oh you're finally here' she says - 'I though you must have been injured - we've all been back for at least 2 hours, what happened to you?'. I couldnt even come up with an answer for this freakishly fit hippy and scuttled past to the shower muttering I will never hike again, TAXI!