It was another cobblestone road, worse than the one leading to the Laguna de Mojanda, and steeper in parts. I didn’t make it to the park’s entrance that day and set up camp, from where i had no views of the vulcan yet, but a nice sunset with the valley filled with clouds beneath.
The morning was cold and very windy. The cold left sometime after, but the wind would stay with me the whole time. The road had changed to sandy gravel by now, which was only slightly better than the cobblestone. By ten o’clock i reached a hostal and restaurant. Having skipped breakfast while battling the wind to get my tent and other stuff packed, this came in handy. Their breakfast filled the whole table, with eggs, bread, fruit, yoghurt, cereal, pots of tea and coffee… and i took my time to do justice to each of these offerings. The big glass windows not only kept out the cold wind but also allowed for some views of Cotopaxi.
The road continued for a while until it reached the main road coming from the southern entrance of the park and leading towards the refuge from where tours start to the summit. I had met a group of germans during breakfast which had just returned from this icy cold world after they had reached the summit in the early morning hours. They spend around five minutes on top as the weather conditions where anything else than inviting. I made a small detour to the Laguna de Limpiopungo and arrived at one of the two campgrounds within the park, from which this view can be had.
I think i was a little distracted and the road conditions might have played a part as well. When i stopped and looked at the back of my bike, i realized that the tent was gone. I had no idea how, as with this setup, the tent never in four years of travelling has come near to falling off. Because there was hardly any opportunity that someone could have stolen it, i quickly retraced my steps to the hostal where i had breakfast, as i was pretty sure that the tent was still with me at that time. I didn’t see anything. What next? No tent is no good!! I hitchhiked to the park’s museum and asked the people there to call the entrance to see if some honest person had dropped it off. Also no positive answer. By that time i wasn’t so sure anymore that i still had it with me during breakfast. So i cycled back to last night’s campspot, passing the northern entrance on my way where there was also no sign of it. Slowly it was getting night and i was sorely missing the possibility to just set up camp on the side of the road and leave all problems for the day to come.
Instead i had to make do with the accommodations that were around. A first stop at a hacienda with a fifty dollar price tag got me going to search further with a recommendation for another more economic guest-house. I was still in a bad mood and surprised how a material loss could still get to me that much. Well, being angry at myself and the loss of the possibility to camp played a big part as well. In this mood sometimes decisions made aren’t the best ones. I took a wrong turn and the road ended up at a driveway from which barking and five pairs of glowing eyes welcomed me. I turned around but found no one to ask for directions. Until i had retraced my steps as far as a small village where i finally could ask and was informed that i had another hour of riding ahead of me. I arrived in the end and found out that it is only slightly cheaper than the first place. But three meals included meant that as soon as i arrived and sat on the tabel, dinner was served. The next morning after breakfast i met the group of germans again, which had climbed Cotopaxi the other day, while making plans to return to Quito. As the staff wasn’t helpful with finding out numbers of the park and inquiring about my tent, i was happy to hear that there was a direct transport to Quito and enough people to share the cost with.
I went back to the ‘el cafecito’ hostel and had a nice welcome back lunch with Tony, the canadian owner, and Frida who worked there for a while and is now on the brink to return to Germany after being accepted to study medicine after seven years of waiting. I once more called the national park the next day from where i received only little assistance. But by then i had already settled with the idea to buy a new tent. I still had the adresses of several outdoor shops in walking distance from the time i was shopping for warmer clothes. The first three shops weren’t helpful to raise my hope to find an adequate replacement, with usually cheap fabrics and glas-fiber poles. But the fourth one, tatoo outdoor, was well stocked and with a fellow cyclists as advisor, i was back at the hostal for lunch with a tent i felt i could rely on to deal with the weather conditions on this trip.
Returning the same way i had come, i didn’t spend another night at the hostal and hopped on the bike as soon as i was done with packing. Having again good weather and views helped to lift my spirits and get over the last bits of sour feelings about the material loss.
And since i couldn’t the last time around, i spent one night at the campground closest to Cotopaxi.
Three days later than expected and a short trip back to quito later, i exited the park and glided down the newly paved stretch back towards the panamerican, which i left shortly afterwards towards Sigchos and the Quilotoa lagoon.