We Are Family

Brianna Gilmore - Ecuador


May 25, 2016

    It’s official, we are family. We took a family road trip to Quilotoa! We woke up at 5am, packed the car and hit the road around 6am. My brother, Washington, drove. In the passenger seat sat my dad, Wilson and his daughter Tiffany. My mom, my sister, and I squished into the backseat. In the hatchback trunk, my sister Emily, and Wilson’s son Calin rode facing backwards watching the traffic. We all quickly fell asleep and two hours later, I awoke in Ambato. Just by the small cracks in the windows, I could feel the cold fresh mountain air. We drove around a bit, getting money and gas. Eventually, we began the car ride up to the Quilotoa volcano. The main attraction of this inactive volcano is the lake. The roads on the mountain were twisty and curvy. We stopped to eat a breakfast of bread and hard boiled eggs on a deserted plot of land. We gazed out over the city, witnessed sheep herding, and took beautiful photos. About 20 minutes after, we arrived upon a pine tree plantation. The pine trees were gorgeous and very similar to the ones in North Carolina. I found myself reflecting on the differences between the Amazonian trees, which are extremely, tall, skinny and as green as Kermit the Frog and the big sturdy oaks we have in Raleigh. While I was lost in reflection,,my sister, who has the unique name of “Go”, and my brother walked out onto the ledge for a picture in the middle of the deep canyon. I was way too scared of tripping and plummeting to my death to even step foot onto the ledge. After walking around, we left and headed through a small ghost town to finally reach Quilotoa.
About 5 minutes prior to reaching the point of entrance, I felt Emily jerk up from the backseat and heard an unpleasant noise from behind me. Calin had vomited. We pulled over and everyone hopped out of the car. Despite our best cleaning efforts, the smell of vomit still remained as we continued our drive to Quilotoa. Once we parked and piled out of the car, we put on our mountain gear. I wore a blue knit hat and my classic red rain jacket. We were 3914 meters above sea level and the air was extremely thin. The gray mist felt as if we were in the clouds. My mom bought Calin new clothes, since the ones he had were covered in vomit. Unfortunately, he began to get sick again. Due to Calin being ill, Wilson stayed back with Tiffany and Calin rather than going to the lake with us. Eventually, my mom, sisters, brother and I started our descent to the lake from the top of the volcano.The descent took about 40 minutes because we stopped and took more breathtaking photos. It was beautiful! I had never seen any natural sight like that before. I couldn’t believe that I was at a lake on top of a volcano.
Here are some facts about Quilotoa.
  1. Quilotoa’s diameter is 3km wide.
  2. Quilotoa’s height is 12,841 ft.
  3. The last eruption was around 1280 AD and was one of the largest in the past 1,000 years. After the last eruption, the lake began to form.
  4. The lake has sulfur particles in it, making it unable to swim or drink, however, kayaking is allowed.
Once we descended to the lake, we rested, ate some crackers, and  took more photos. As we were resting, we saw two men strip down to their underwear. As they started to approach the lake, a man on a nearby hill yelled at them to not jump into the lake. My family had originally thought that they were going to go swimming as well; however, apparently swimming in sulfur isn’t the safest activity.
The climb up the volcano was incredibly steep, therefore difficult. We decided take the adventurous hike instead of taking the 10$ donkey ride. My sister, Go, and I were leading most of the time. We created a good connection of motivation and encouragement. When people say, exercising is better with a friend, they are accurate. We were able to say “ Let’s go up to the woman in the blue jacket, and then we will rest.” Those moments further developed our relationship. After an hour of hiking the steep incline, we breathlessly made it back to the top.
After we rejoined our family, we ate our packed meat and potatoes around the trunk in the freezing cold weather.The five of us, who climbed the volcano were eating so much. The kids were not extremely hungry, but they ate a little. After lunch, we climbed back into the car. Washington was in the trunk and Emily, Go,Calin, and I were in the backseat. Calin was sitting next to me. I could tell something was wrong. I wasn’t sure if he was tired or still sick. I found a plastic bag and put it near us. I kept asking him questions like “are you feeling okay?”, “does your stomach hurt?”. He never answered me. I told him that if he felt like throwing up that he should take this bag. About 10 minutes after this, he says “Yo quiero vomitar”. Right away, I stood up in the car as he proceeded to throw up where I was seating. Luckily, I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, so I was able to get up very quickly. My sister grabbed the plastic bag and threw it over his mouth. During the commotion, my parents stopped the car, and I yelled “open the door!!” I was able to open the door, move past the vomit and get out of the car. Calin continued to vomit for another 10 minutes or so. We put the bag of vomit on the side of the road, and a stray dog came over and began eating it. After 15 minutes of cleaning up the car, we hopped back in and I sat on a trash bag covering the damp seat. Calin sat up front with my mom and Tiffany sat in the back with my sisters and I. After being on winding roads for another 20 minutes, Tiffany begins to say that she is feeling sick and wants to throw up. We stopped the car and let her out. We all relaxed when it was a false alarm, at least until Calin threw up all over my mom! The car had a very strange smell for the rest of the 4 hour ride home. We stopped numerous times to let the kids out. We all slept off and on for the rest of the ride.
Overall, it was exhausting but amazing! It was a real family road trip. We were all crammed into a car. Someone got sick. We ate packed lunches. It felt like the typical American road trip. This trip really helped create meaningful and memorable moments with everyone in my family. Three months ago, I was moving into a stranger’s house and now, those once strangers are now my family. I can clearly and confidently say or sing with a smile “ We are Family”.

Brianna Gilmore