After my group’s trip to the equator outside of Quito last month, we ascended the Pululahua Volcano for lunch. The volcano’s name means “Cloud of Water” in the local Quichua language, and indeed, the crater is part of a cloudforest, where the rich agricultural land inside obtains all of its moisture from the dense cloud bank that cloaks the mountain much of the day. Rainfall here is essentially non-existent. The volcano last erupted about 2500 years ago, destroying the existing cultures. Archeological evidence shows that inhabitants returned sometimes around 800 CE, and successive groups of people, including Spanish conquerors, have lived and farmed here since.
As typical here during mid-day, the heavy clouds cloaked the view of the crater when we first arrived. Jeff, our trip organizer, had arranged for lunch at the beautiful El Crater Restaurant, which features local dishes in a location with a 360-degree view of the site. Naturally, he had arranged for us to have tables in the upper room near the windows, where would could see, at first, nothing but fog. Mist covered everything right up to the windows, like a Stephen King story. As we watched, and talked, and ordered our food, the clouds slowly shifted, gradually bringing the lush vegetation and farm holdings into view.
We moved in and out of the restaurant, sneaking up to the very edge of the crater and peering down into the depths (something that, in the US, would likely have a chain-linked fence with warning signs, but here you were free to venture too far). The views, the food, the friendship, the relaxing and beautiful scenery, the cool weather, all contributed to the beauty and peace. We had a long trip (some of us, more than 10 days), filled with adventure, but I will always reflect back on the calm, peaceful ambiance of this afternoon. My bucket list includes standing near an active volcano someday; here, you can see how nature comes back after destruction and makes an oasis.
- Nicaragua – The land of lakes and volcanoes (mwhitbreadtravels.wordpress.com)
- Daredevil photographer captures the moment lightning hits active volcano (metro.co.uk)