The house is buzzing with preparations. Half hazard organization in carefully laid piles amidst the chaos that is typical of a house run by toddlers. Rainbows colored puddle jumpers, freshly folded jeans, and fuzzy alpaca sweaters that smell like an old closet. Four carefully planned backpacks, a gifted picnic basket, and small bag of dog chow. Glitter spilled in a cup of soup, milk on the floor, and a freshly cleaned beach towel soaking in the dog bowl!
It is as ridiculous as it sounds, preparing for our first legitimate camping trip. With two kids under 5. And two large mutts along for the ride. We don’t have a tent, or sleeping bags. Not even a cooking pan! If this sounds like a do-or-die adventure, it probably is. We are completely ready to go exploring, in mind, body, and spirit. We have absolutely no clue what on earth we are doing. We are leaving in three days, or maybe four. Or, maybe tomorrow.
If we weren’t the completely spontaneous, take-a-leap- of-faith type of people…we wouldn’t have abruptly picked up and moved to Ecuador just over a year ago. We’ve been itching for awhile to get moving and exploring. We are over the initial humps of being first-time expats. We are settled I suppose, comfortable with adventuring about. Not nervous or afraid or over-whelmed anymore. We want to see more of Ecuador. And we know that there is so, so much more.
A few months ago we candidly asked our kids, just 2 and 4, where they would go if they could choose any destination. They chose a trip to outer space, a visit to the lost city of Atlantis, or an exploration of an active Volcano. This is quite the ambitious crew we are dealing with!! Of course it took a long and drawn out conversation to rule out the first two options. Although our kids do travel to outer space almost daily…from the rocket ship we painted in our only closet. They have become quite familiar with the moon, the sun, planet Earth, Saturn, Mercury, and Venus. We haven’t quite figured it out yet, how to visit Atlantis.
As for the Volcano? “Piece of cake,” my husband said. Our 2 year old was quick to agree, “We can take our rocket to see a Volcano!”
Luckily, we won’t need rocket fuel for this excursion. We LIVE in Ecuador. Did you know that the tiny of country of Ecuador is similar in size to the American State of Nevada…and is home to approximately 50 volcanoes? Approximately. Because you know, there just might be one that hasn’t been discovered yet. But, we aren’t looking for just any volcano; we need an active one. As in currently spewing, spitting, or fuming. Something along those lines to ease our curious little minds. As of today, at least 4 of the volcanoes in Ecuador are considered active.
For this trip, we have chosen Cotopaxi. This is one of the more famous volcanoes in the country, and has been very active in recent years. It is known to sporadically grace it’s viewers with fumes or ash. It is not covered in hardened lava, like you might imagine. This is not a tropical volcano similar to something in Hawaii. It is relatively cold and there is snow at the top! Cotopaxi is a stratovolcano, located in the Andes Mountains chain. The summit is just over 19,000 feet. It is also one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. It is a pretty special place indeed, a volcano, a mountain, and a glacier all in one…and it just happens to be resting on the equator.
But, it wouldn’t be us to show up and stay at a sparkling hotel with an impeccable view of the majestic site. We need a little more than the typical tourist. So, we have decided to pack up and stay in the area for a week or more. We are looking forward to strolling through the tiny, indigenous villages that speckle the base of the volcano. We are hoping to stumble upon a local festival, indulge in a few moments near a bull ring, and to immerse ourselves in any blissful occurrences that simply can’t be planned.
We are antsy, anticipating this grand new adventure for our family. We struggle to stay focused, on planning and packing. Our minds are already out the door and our feet are dancing in the threshold. We are walking around dreaming of dramatic freckled skies and crackling amber fires. Sleeping faces caked in melted marshmallows and placid puppies curled up in the cool grass.
But for now…there are dishes in the sink, spilled sunscreen on the counter, toothbrushes and toiletries to pack. Tiny socks to double count, frayed mittens to stuff into pockets, batteries to charge. And most importantly, a husband patiently waiting for me to decide my day is done.