Slish-slop-and slurp goes the truck as it sloshes through the real-life version of chutes and ladders. Down a hill and through a valley and up a hill again.
SPLATT! A generous dollop of nature’s mud-pudding flops itself smack-center on the windshield. The kids giggle as they topple side to side in the open back of our caravan. The mutts pant with anticipation and whimpers of glee, paws in the windows dreaming of the possibilities in the landscape that stretches beyond us.
I squeeze my husband’s forearm as he effortlessly shifts and steers, gliding us through the ultimate four-by-four experience. As we careen forward, my eyes wander across the croplands to the vast emerald valleys tucked beneath the mountains. We are still in the stronghold of the Ecuadorian Andes, cradled in the cup that rests below the rim of the steadfast volcanos. Cotopaxi, the Illinizas, and even Tungurahua hover above us; hiding in the morning mist.
The greenest green you have ever seen laid out before us, the stuff that artists dream of for the truest stroke of a color in a landscape scene. A kind of green that can’t be replicated but can only be remembered in our fondest of dreams. A color so powerful that a hush fell over the car. The serenity of a place independent of the world washed over us.
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