Jamie and I had a doctor’s appointment today (at the same hospital where my son Jonathan was operated on last December), so down the hill and to the Cumbayá valley hospital it was again today. Now Jamie traverses this road every day. The university where she studies (Universidad San Francisco de Quito) is in Cumbayá, so she knows every turn by heart. Even though I don’t go down as frequently, this is a well-known road to me, too. Yet I never cease to be amazed by the sight driving down, especially when the view of the snowpeaks annouonce the “summer” or dry season. Although it was cloudy, we were able to see four different snow peaks: the twin Ilinizas, the Antisana, and the majestic Cotopaxi.
As we left Quito and approached the first curve downhill, the Cotopaxi sprung into sight. Unfortunately, we hadn’t thought about pulling the camera out and having it ready. By the time Jamie found it, I had already gone around the curve and from there on we never had such a good view of the volcano as we would have wanted. But Jamie took a few pictures for me to share.
Sorry about the glare and dirty windscreen through which this was taken, but it gives you an idea of the Andean views we are able to enjoy. At this point, we’re on one of the nice, modern highways – four lanes each way – and at 8:20 a.m. traffic is still light.
Another view… This is just about where we are to turn off to the smaller highway leading down to Cumbayá – only 2 lanes each way. You can see the sign and the ramp to the right. Jamie tries to snap another pic of the Cotopaxi. You can notice a dark “speck” right in the middle, toward the top of the peak. That is the mouth of the volcano. Years ago, in my other life as a translator, I flew back from Cuenca once in a small plane with a VIP client. To my delight, he flew right over the mouth of the volcano, so at one point I was looking straight down into it. Commercial flights are not allowed to fly that path, so this was the very first (and last) time I got to see it firsthand.
On the smaller highway we hit traffic. Fortunately, the bumper-to-bumper traffic is uphill. It’s the commuter traffic into the city. On our side, as you can see, the road going down is practically emply. Lucky us.
That is, just until before reaching Cumbayá. This is the last hill up, and at the top of the hill is the one and only traffic light in Cumbayá. So this is where traffic piles up. It takes a few minutes, but it’s still not as bad as the traffic I had to deal with on the way back up to Quito.