The simmering Tungurahua volcano

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Last Saturday our Galapagos adventure came to an end when we boarded our plane on San Cristobal heading back to Quito. After all the beautiful things we’ve seen, the wonderful people we met, and the adventures we’d had, we were certainly sad to leave this paradise to go back to the city.

But for a while it looked as though we weren’t going to get off the islands anytime soon.

Much of Ecuador’s vastly varying landscape is composed of countless volcanoes – many of them still active. In fact, the entire archipelago of the Galapagos islands is the result of volcanic activity. On Thursday morning (2 days before our scheduled flight) one such volcano in mainland Ecuador had a bit of a conniption and decided to erupt. The resulting ash from that explosion caused obvious problems for many nearby communities. Guayaquil, the main coastal hub of Ecuador, was particularly affected, resulting in the closure of the resident airport.

This was a bit of a problem for us as our flight to Quito was stopping over in Guayaquil.

On Friday we intently watched the uber-dramaticized local news coverage of the eruption, trying to decipher some of the Spanish and thus glean some useful information about the likelihood of our flight the following day.

Unfortunately, our Spanish isn’t that good.

We also tried the internet café, but the international coverage of Ecuadorian volcano eruptions was almost nonexistent.

The day of the flight, we ran to the airport (yes the island is that small), but there again due to our broken Spanish, we were only able to get some questionable information from one of the custodians at the airport (no one else was working at that time).

Thus, we checked out of our hotel, and headed back to the airport to simply wait and see if we were departing.

Given we have been back on the mainland, you all know how the story ends.

When we landed in Guayaquil, the city was engulfed in a haze of ash. While taxiing to the arrival gate, we passed a number of airplanes which were being cleaned of the ash that had accumulated.

A couple of days ago, while driving through the valley of volcanoes, we could still see the smoke rising from the Tungurahua volcano.

In the history of many of Ecuador’s cities, volcano eruptions have played a repeatedly destructive role. It is a very precarious way of life, living right next to a volcano that could claim your life at any moment. However, that Ecuadorians continue to live amongst these destructive forces, having to rebuild their communities from scratch on numerous occasions speaks volumes regarding the resiliency, or at least the stubbornness of the people.

Peter


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