I drafted this on Saturday night, but didn’t post it because Michael opined that it seemed more like a journal entry than a blog post. I think I will add some value to this one by trying to better explain where we live, as it relates to the volcano and my running route (the eventual topic of this post.)
The pic below shows the peak of Tungurahua, our volcano, puffing in the top right corner. Below the cloud line, there is a little river valley for the Bascun. To the left (east) of the valley is a green ridge. Below that green ridge is Banos. The idea is that lava during an eruption would flow down the side of the volcano into the Bascun valley; the ridge protects Banos. If you look closely, you will see a white speck on the right hand side of the ridge--that's the mirador we have written about. Notice how the ridge hugs Banos to the south. If you keep going east, you can go past the other edge of the ridge (see pic below this one). In the event of a volcano alarm, we are supposed to take refuge on the other side of that ridge.
This picture shows the eastern side of Banos. It's like the extension of the left hand side of the pic above. The volcano and Bascun valley are out of site to the right. In this pic, you can also see the river valley of the Pastaza , which edges Banos to the north. The Pastaza keeps going east, eventually draining to the Amazon. To the west, it climbs into the Andes. When I describe my run way at the bottom of this post, I am talking about a shortcut over the bottom of the end of the ridge and running down the river valley to the next town, Ulba. This is also the road we take to see the waterfalls.
See the top of the ridge over Banos in the pic above? That's the town of Runtun. The pic below is taken from a cafe on top of that ridge. This pic shows Banos, and the mountain range on the other side of the Pastaza. The main bridge over the river is to the left side of the picture. You can see the road climbing up the mountain from the bridge. That's the road Michael takes up to the 'Antenas.' This ridge is also the vantage point for the pictures above. We spent the night on top in a little cabin and had splendid views of the volcano. Our house is near the soccer field closest to the river.
8:08pm, Saturday March 6
I am giving myself 30-45 minutes to write before Michael and I UNPLUG and play some scrabble.
We are online way too much, hardly giving our friends and family back home a chance to notice that we are gone. I like the fact that we are writing--I know from experience that if I don't write, I will forget the details, the texture of this trip. I appreciate being able to put our words and pictures online b/c it seems a tidier way to store them than in the countless journals I have tucked away in various corners of our house back home.
Another benefit is that it forces some editing and censoring. While this means I probably leave out the more interesting stuff, it’s better than all the embarrassing, “draft thoughts and emotions” sections of my journals. Still on my list of things to do when we get back: go through all the old personal files and compost most of my papers. On the downside, I don't cut as close to the bone when I write anymore. Not that I am dishonest, just I used to be more honest, more willing to take risks. Maybe just younger.
But that is not what I sat down to write about. And now it is 8:15. Focus, focus!
When I woke up today, I took a deep breath and then hid in the bedroom, reading, for about an hour while Michael and Miguel went through the morning routines. The breath was notable because it was the first deep one I had had after a few weeks of respiratory problem. I was hiding because I was in a funk, which began the night before. I needed some alone time, away from my family.
All of the travel-with-kids books we read before this trip gave a warning along the lines of: Don't do it unless your marriage is very strong. Even then, be prepared for strains and challenges. Thankfully, Michael and I DO have a very strong relationship, but still, so much togetherness, especially for this introvert, can put me on edge. The fact that at least one of us has been ill (not seriously, just enough to trigger more missed school days, inside time and fatigue than we would like) for the last four weeks hasn't helped.
Disclaimer: I'm just sayin', not complaining. Life is very, very good. I'm just drawing my fingers over the rougher edges for a bit.
8:25. Gah--I haven't even gotten to the run, the geography lesson or my rant about health care.
Michael and Miguel left me alone to read Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose (wow, great book--that will have to be another post) until a luxurious 9am. When Michael came in to see what kind of family adventure I wanted to have, my face must have communicated that I was hoping it would be more of a Daddy and Son morning, so they went off in search of terrabitas and trout. I promised I would go for a run.
Yesterday morning was Michael's turn to be cranky. He had tried to get his brewing day started off early, but something was wrong with the gas line and he was snarling and snippy so I not too subtly suggested he go for a run. He did, and came back aglow. Neither one of us has done much running lately, which is not good for the family temper. I don’t understand how so many people can get by—and maintain their relationships-- on so little exercise.
After they left, I puttered around the house and picked a bunch of photos to have printed to hang next to our new map of Ecuador. We're only here for 5 months, but have made ourselves a nice little nest. Which makes me think of Angle of Repose again. So does journaling.
By noon, I finally laced up my running shoes. The house was clean and quiet (ah!) and I had a thumb drive bursting with photos. I hopped outside, walked a few blocks to a photo place and starting jogging with no particular destination in mind until I saw the signs for one of the city's evacuation routes. Miguel's school had hiked this way a few weeks back, for a practice volcano drill. I wanted to see for myself where the town is supposed to go if the alarms go off. I have been to the spot behind the ridge on bike, but there is a walking shortcut.
I promised myself that I would run for ten minutes. My lungs still felt kind of weak. Then ten became 15 and I was still heading down the river valley. The evacuation route eventually connects to the main road out of town. The traffic volume is not high, but it is fast, and the bus exhaust is thick and black. Having made it this far, I aimed for the bridge near Ulba, knowing that I could walk back. My new goal was 30 minutes.
I was pissed to once again be aiming for 30. 30 should be an easy minimum for me by now. My goal is to run easily for an hour, to do a 10K in less than an hour and a 5K in less than 25 mins. All very reasonable, if I could just stick with it.
I hit the bridge at around 20 minutes and turned around, embracing the up, which is so much easier on my knees. The last few minutes were brutal. I propelled myself remembering how I would push the Mitchell girls last year, as part of our Girls on the Run program. This was their revenge for me saying, “Just two more minutes, slow down if you need to, get to the next light pole." I kept checking my watch, which seemed to stay on 1:07 forever. Finally, I hit 1:10 and was done.
It rained softly for the long walk back, during which I had all kinds of DEEP THOUGHTS, including about Stegner's descriptions of the West, but alas, my time is now up again. Gah! Why do I always take so long to get to the starting point??
8:47pm (I did go on to beat Michael at Scrabble ;-) And here is one more volcano pic, zoomed in from the Antenas.