Cotopoxi

back cover of bookWith Quishpe family at CotopoxiSeth and Ernesto on CotopoxiSeth sliding down

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.


3 thoughts on “Cotopoxi

  1. Hey Jeanne,

    I’ve been watching Cotopaxi’s activity with a lot interest too. The photographs are at once beautiful and terrifying.

    That mountain, along with several others (including Cyambe) is actually glacier covered, not snow-capped, and Seth definitely climbed the “skirt” of the volcano, not the volcano itself. Any climbing on the ice portion is considered a technical climb which requires equipment, including an ice pick and crampons for the boots.

    Now, that really would have freaked Rachel out. Thank goodness for altitude; it helps us to recognize our limitations.

    How’s the book promotion experience going?

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  2. On the subject of mothers and volcanoes.

    In 1951 when I was in third grade my parents were attending language school in Costa Rica. The language school had school outings and my father took me on one to the Irazu volcano. As we stood on the rim my father and several other men decided to descend the steep side of the crater to a small flat spot before a cliff that dropped down the center opening to green/blue sulfur smelling steaming water.

    The slope of the crater was very steep (see left side of the picture below) and was rough and rocky. It was just about at the angle of repose. Meaning any little push started rocks rolling or sliding. My father got a little ahead of me and a man next to me said, “You know if you fall you should stick out your arms and legs out wide to prevent you from rolling right on down to the bottom.” That certainly put the fear of God into me.

    Once we finally worked out way down to the level area before the cliff people started taking pictures over the edge.
    My dad wanted me to sit on the very edge of the cliff so he could take a picture of me with the opposite cliff and some of the green liquid at the bottom. I was scared to death to get that close to the edge. So I sat with my legs strait and a man held me by the ankles until my seat was right near the edge.

    The picture showed a scared a little boy with a stripped t-shirt and cap trying to fake a smile.

    As you can imagine when my mother saw the picture she was very angry.
    Since there have been several irruptions of Irazu since I was there, you can see what the terrain looked like from this old postcard that I down loaded from the internet. I have marked the picture spot with a red X. If you look at the left side of the picture it shows how steep the side was.

    Go to picture http://www.jflory.org/irazu.htm

    Unfortunately we no longer have the slide since my brother took it to show and tell at school and the teacher lost it.

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  3. The mountain name is “Cotopaxi”. (‘Proofreading’ is something I tend to do in all I read…) Today I’ve again been thinking back on how God blessed me during my Ecuador years. The Rhoades and Flory families were important during my elementary & jr high years. Jeanne & Jan R and Jim & John F were like older sisters & brothers to me. (I graduated from AA in 1967.) So, today I searched for “Flory ‘Church of the Brethren’ Ecuador” and found the Church of the Brethren Newsline for February 15, 2006, with Rolland Flory’s obituary. Then I looked at your blog (here) and then at Jim Flory’s webpage with the interesting picture/audio description of the Ecuador years! Thanks for sharing!

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