Moments earlier we had been standing in some of the fiercest winds I had ever experienced, then after descending a short distance into the crater the winds subsided, swirling above us yet just out of reach. I struggled to keep my footing as each step sent sand and stones spilling down the mountainside.
We had spent the better part of the morning watching as women in traditional dress carried sheep skins from the stalls of an open-air butcher shop, pausing just long enough to swat at the dogs that loitered nearby. It was painfully cold. We wandered past sacks of potatoes and makeshift kitchens where cuy (guinea pig) roasted on the grill, past young shoeshine boys and CD vendors. We hitched a ride in a pick-up truck.
Now, hiking along a near deserted path leading down to the banks of Laguna Quilotoa we emerged from behind a wall of rock to find a little girl, not more than seven or eight years old, wrapped in a red shawl and carrying a baby on her back. At first she sat quietly by the edge of the cliff, then after realizing she was no longer alone, she stood up and turned toward us. We asked for a photo and she obliged.
A silhouette of red set against a sea of turquoise, framed by the deep greens and browns of the surrounding mountains with their white snow-capped peaks. One image captured at the perfect moment. An image that, in all its simplicity, paints an intricate portrait of life along Ecuador’s Quilotoa Loop.
This post has been entered into the Grantourismo and HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competition – one photo and 250 words.