After leaving Quito, we all jumped on a bus to a small village called Chugchilan, high in the Central Highlands of Ecuador.
(3200 metres for anyone who enjoys altitude talk). The lonely planet described their bus ride there as being "on an extremely bad road". As always they were right and I spent most of the bus ride figuring out the best way to jump out of a moving bus should it fall down that very steep gorge. For the record, sit at the back right of the bus and keep the window open, you risk the head on collision but you have a much better chance should you roll down the 2000 metre drop. As it turned out our ride was not too bad, one flat tyre and a very mysterious method of fixing the problem by backing over a large rock every 2 kilometres. (sometimes it's best not to ask.) The trip however was well worth it. We stayed at an eco tourist lodge called the Black sheep inn, where permaculture is definitely not a dirty word. Besides the fact it was a little too politically correct, and there were far too many Americans staying there, it was absolutely magical.
For me the highlight was a 6 hour horseride thru the mountains whtch finished with a view all the way to the coast with the cloud line underneath us. My horse was a little bit frisky and I got my fair share of cantering, which for a beginner was downright terrifying. The cute thing was that two little foals came along with their mummies for the ride. The day after we did a 6 hour hike from lake Quilotoa, a volcanic crater lake at 3800 metres with a good looking colour of lime green. The day will be remembered for almost being blown off the mountain. This morning we had to leave our mountain paradise and travel by open dusty truck, 3 different buses, and two taxis to Banos. 5 hair washes later and now I feel human again.