After waking up in a sketchy hostel in Ambato, I walked to Darvitur after eating a hearty breakfast at a local restaurant. It's very common to find places that offer eggs, ham and cheese sandwiches, coffee, freshly squeezed juice, and fruit for $2.50 or $3. The coffee was wonderful. With my lovely tourguide, I drove through Pelileo, the jeans capital of Ecuador, which is about 30 minutes from Ambato. Then I visited the town of Patate. In Patate I visited the Church of the Earthquake Saint, or the Senor del Terremoto, as it is in Spanish. About 220 years ago, there was an earthquake in this region and the Earthquake Saint protected this region from danger, as the story goes. To this day, there is a yearly festival to recognize this Saint. I was impressed by how many different outfits he has to wear! (More information at http://www.eluniverso.com/vida-estilo/2017/02/07/nota/6036133/fiesta-senor-terremoto). We continued through the tomate de arbol (tomato tree) farms up windy mountain roads to reach the entrance of the Mundug hike.
The view of the valley was incredible for the entirety of the hike. I had great conversations with my tourguide, who offered insights into a variety of topics ranging from feminist literature to Ecuadorian politics. The vegetation was particularly interesting since it resembled the Amazon but the temperature was much lower. (Patate is located near Banos, an outdoor adventure paradise and gateway to the Amazon.)
We ate a typical meal in Patate after our 2-hour-long hike, and then visited a traditional Salasaca market. This resembled the tourist markets of Otavalo. I then headed back to Ambato where I took two buses and a cab back to my cozy home in Quito, arriving at around 7:30 PM. Wilma greeted me with a warm hug and snacks.
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