Magnificent Cotopaxi, not far from Quito. Not my photo — credit to Oregon State University (

12 March

Start of a little side trip to Quito, to visit Mauricio and Martha. (Mauricio is Margarita’s oldest brother.) Unfortunately, I got sick as a dog the first night, a combination of food poisoning and altitude sickness. Very ugly, very gross and messy, very embarrassing.

A couple of days later: in M & M’s cool new house in Tumbaco, 30 min (on a good day) outside Quito, feeling pretty much 100% again.

Weather crappy – cloudy and rainy and pretty cool – and I’ve slept most of the last couple of days, but no matter, am spending some great time with M & M, yammering away. Conversations range freely across family news, current events and geopolitics, local news and history, and countless other topics.

Note: the “new” house is the one that they’ve  been building over the last eight years. I’d post a couple of pix of the house except I haven’t yet figured out how to move files from my iPad to my non-Mac laptop computer. The house sits in a spacious, approx 6.5-acre compound set aside by one of Martha’s forebears, a prominent Ecuadorian lawyer and politician of the early 20th century, specifically for family to build houses on. Mauricio’s and Martha’s son Adrian and his young family live only a couple hundred meters away, and three other relatives also have built houses there.

15 March

Very much enjoying visit with Mau and Martha. Seems that conversations range widely across subjects, people think and speak in paragraphs, not just fragments or short sentences, people aren’t afraid of silences or gaps in the conversation. Am feeling 100% over the nastiness that hit when I got to Quito the other day.

Quito Quito Quito

4.5 quake 8 am this morning, centered somewhere close by. Felt only a slight, brief shaking here in the house.

Cotopaxi has been erupting for months, not violently, but sending up steam and who knows what sorts of gases. The area has been on Yellow Alert for a long time. A huge eruption with smoke and ash and lava would be disastrous – no way could very many people get away. The roads would become choked and impassable immediately, despite there being established evacuation routes.

Ventured into the city this morning with Martha; bought a high-quality induction-capable pressure cooker for the boat and accomplished a few other small errands. Overwhelming; a high-intensity, high-density urban experience. The terrific new freeway coming into town is wonderful, lets you join the trancón (traffic jam) quite a bit sooner. Quito traffic is brutal, even at mid-day – all but gridlocked. Beautiful day today, though, so could again admire how so much of the city clings to the steep slopes all around, plunges hundreds of feet into ravines, then crawls its way back up the opposing slope.


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