I am trying to get through my lists of 'things to do before I leave Quito', and the plan for today was to take the truck up to the top of Guagua Pichincha (15,670 ft) or hike up Rucu Pichincha (15,696 ft). The truck access was more acceptable to Eric and Maya, and we asked our friends Jeff and Helen, Lucia and Nick ( a family from the DC area, who are here for two years) to join us. They had driven to the summit before, and knew how to get there. My alarm went off at 6 and I got up to look at the mountain, which was invisible because it was shrouded in clouds, which came all the way down to the base of the mountain. In fact, the valley was bathed in mist as well. Mornings are best to ascend the mountain, when visibility was usually much better, but unfortunately this morning was not a good one for our adventure. I am not sure I will get to the top of these peaks, which welcome me each morning and evening. I chose the apartment because of the view of the mountains, and the first thing I do each morning is look to the west for their reassuring presence. I have wanted to summit them since the first day I arrived in Quito. I have taken the teleferico up Rucu, and there is a path from the teleferico to the top, but I have only wandered upward a short way.
I climbed right back into bed, realizing that our plans were not to be today, and slept for another few hours. When I woke up the second time, the clouds were just as plentiful and there was rain on the ground. We met our friends anyway, and went for a hike at the Parque Metropolitano, a vast green space straddling a mountain between the Quito valley and that of Cumbaya/Tumbaco. I have never visited the park, and have been eager to do so. It is a few minutes from the house, and easily accessible by car. We hiked along a path which had several playgrounds for the children. There were families having picnics and parties under covered shelters. We walked in the drizzle and the fog, which never abated during the hours we were walking. It was a comfortable walk despite the rain, which was mostly a drizzle. There were dozens of paths, and public art pieces along the path we chose. There were many people in the park, but, because it is so large, with tall imposing trees we were alone for stretches of the walk.
The children played games and ran in circles and disappeared several times, and then came back to join the adults, who talked about their experiences in Quito, and Eric and I expressed our feelings about not being ready to leave. I have a harder time understanding why Maya wants to stay, but perhaps she is just agreeing with her parents.
After our walk, we stopped at a restaurant establishment on the way down the hill from the part, serving 'chuchucara', an Ecuadorian specialty with mote (corn/hominy) and fried pork, which tastes delicious and very unhealthy. Everyone ate with gusto, all of us hungry after our walk.
Along with trying to see everything I have not seen before, we are also making an effort to spend time with the people we have met here who we have been close with. Yesterday, I was invited to the Canadian Ambassador's home for an evening with a group of dynamic and interesting women. We ate fondue and cheesecake and shared our experiences in Quito. Tonight Eric and I invited Santiago and Alejandra and Santiagos' son Jose David for dinner. We had been to their wedding when we first arrived, and Eric works with Santiago at the university. It was a goodbye evening, and they were great company, but I am feeling mostly sad about leaving.