At a recent book signing, I was asked if the mountain pictured on the back of my book was the one that is currently erupting. Yes, it is!
Cotopoxi was one of the five snow-capped mountains that we could count from our house in Llano Grande on a clear day.
On a recent trip back to Ecuador, I took my eight and one half year old grandson Seth. Elizabeth suggested several things we might want to do. Seth chose to climb the volcano.
We loaded into the pick-up truck and drove through Quito and on to the south. As we began to climb, the eucalyptus trees gave way to pine. Then there were no trees, just grass and wildflowers. The mountain was wrapped in clouds as we drove. But then the clouds cleared enough that we could glimpse the majestic snow-capped top. We got out to explore the area. Below stretched Miles of dry landscape with green valleys. Above was the mountain.
Driving a little farther, we came to a parking area and got out of the truck for the climb. Seth’s playmate Ernesto and his father Fabian started to climb. Seth and I started to climb as well. But we were not accustomed to the altitude and only made it a few feet. Ernesto and Fabian live at 9000 feet all the time so they were used to the altitude.
The volcanic ash that covered the mountainside was especially hard to navigate going down. Seth found the easiest way was to just sit down and slide. I took a picture to send to his mother, saying, “This way she will understand why your jeans are torn. I’ll tell her you were sliding down the volcano.”
Seth replied, “Better say ‘mountain.’ If you say ‘volcano’ Mom will freak out.” If we had known what this very volcano would be doing in a few short months, she would indeed have freaked out.
While we waited by the truck, snow began to fall. Then, for a brief period, there was a “white-out.” Elizabeth nervously watched for her son and husband to return. When they finally did come back, they were carrying a chunk of ice from the glacier.
Now the side of the mountain is covered with ash and steam is spewing from the crater.