Where We Be
|We had to work hard to obtain this relatively unobstructed view of Cotopaxi from Latacunga
|Latacunga & Cotopaxi Volcano
|This was our initial cluttered view of Cotopaxi from the overlook point. As this photo makes clear,
the city is quite close to the volcano -- only 25 km away -- and very much in its danger zone.
|Cotopaxi Volcano is one of the highest active volcanoes on earth -- and a beautiful sight to see with its symmetrical snow-covered cone
|Latacunga's central square offers a peaceful refuge from the city streets
|Panoramic view of Latacunga from the overlook. The city is only 55 miles (90 km) south
of Quito along the Pan American Highway, making it an easy stop along our route.
|This mural at the Mirador depicts Mama Negra, the key figure in the city's annual "Fiesta de la Mama Negra." Cotopaxi colorfully erupts behind her.
|The Mirador de la Virgen del Calvario offers a panoramic city view, as well as a view of several different volcanoes surrounding Latacunga
|A second city park with huge palm trees
|Inside St. Francis Church is this pretty stained glass window (in the balcony) depicting
a visit by Pope John Paul II to Latacunga, with Volcano Cotopaxi visible behind
|For dinner we tried the traditional dish of Latacunga called chugchucaras, which is a mixed plate of fried chunks of pork, hominy, fried bits
of pork skin, potatoes, fried banana, tostado (toasted corn), and empanadas, with spicy "aji" to taste. A weird dish worth trying once!
|More than once in Ecuador, when we have asked for coffee with cream, we have received this -- a cup of steamed milk served with a small glass pourer
of coffee on the side. The proportion of steamed milk to coffee seems odd to us, but this is apparently the traditional way to serve coffee in Latacunga.
|This is St. Francis Church on the main square
We came to Latacunga with one clear purpose
in mind: to see Cotopaxi Volcano. But finding a
clear view of Cotopaxi from within the confines
of the city was harder than you might imagine.
We climbed a series of stairs to an overlook at
Mirador de la Virgen del Calvario but telephone
wires cluttered the view. We had to venture
into a dodgy part of town where tourists seldom
go (judging from the looks we got) to get an
unobstructed view. Cotopaxi is one of the
highest active volcanoes on earth, standing at
19,347 ft (5897 m), second only to Chimborazo in
Ecuador at 20,702 ft (6310 m). Cotopaxi's
symmetrical cone is topped with snow -- and a
rare equatorial glacier. This makes it particularly
dangerous if it erupts since the glacier melts
abruptly and can send a lahar (a thick mudflow)
rushing downslope towards Latacunga. The city
has in fact been destroyed three different times
by Cotopaxi since it was founded in 1534.