December 27-28: Chimborazo!

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Harry and I are still at Hosteria La Andaluza right next to the Panmericana. We love the rural setting (including a small creek that separates the hotel from its parking lot), and Harry gets to run around a lot.

 

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The Hosteria doesn’t host many guests these days, so there’s always time for a chat with the friendly employees. Yesterday I spoke with one of the receptionists; he hails from Cuba and shared stories of survival during the “special period” following the collapse of the USSR.

 

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A rodeo ring on the other side of the Panamericana. And, visible in the background…

 

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… the Chimborazo! An inactive volcano, it is one of the tallest mountains in the Andes. In fact, there is no higher peak north from here in the Americas — Denali (as those among you who’ve been following our trip from the beginning) is 250ft lower. At 6,268m and with a location close to the equator, its peak also holds the record of being farthest away from the earth’s core. Although when measured from sea level Mt. Everest, K2, etc. are significantly higher, the earth’s shape–with a bulge around the equator–renders the distance between Chimborazo’s summit and the earth’s center the widest on our planet.

 

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With its prominence and glacier-capped peaks, the Chimborazo ranks high on my list of most beautiful mountains.

 

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For tomorrow (Dec. 29) I am planning a downhill bike ride from a mountain shelter located at 5,000m. This will be the highest elevation I’ve ever been to on foot.

 

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I stumbled upon this cute piglet on my way back from taking pics of Chimborazo. I hope the encounter implies that our current streak of luck continues…

 

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… and indeed, the fact that the Helene has left Panama and is on its way to Ecuador suggests that this year will end on yet another positive note.

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