We spent about two weeks in Quito and then continued our journey to the north. Our next destination was Cayambe, just an hour’s drive from Ecuador’s capital. However, this time we were very lucky, and we didn’t have to hitchhike the entire way. In Cayambe, we were hosted by Javier and Anibal. On that day, they were about to take a friend to Quito’s airport, so we just needed to get to the airport and meet them there.
We walked to the bus terminal but found out there were no buses to the airport that day. So we took a bus to the nearest town and hitchhiked the rest of the way. The guys picked us up at a gas station, and soon, we were their guests.
Their place was amazing! Stylish interior, two cats, a large collection of Star Wars and Marvel items, and a huge plasma screen on the wall. We spent the next couple of evenings watching movies.
Cayambe is known as the “City of Roses” because it’s surrounded by rose farms. They grow roses everywhere, and it’s one of the leading rose-producing areas in Ecuador. Our hosts also work in this industry. However, the town itself doesn’t have much else to offer, except for its beautiful sunsets.
Here, we wanted to visit Cayambe Volcano, which is located at the foot of the city. The volcano’s height is 5,790 meters, and it is always covered in snow at its summit. This makes it the third-highest volcano in Ecuador, after Chimborazo and Cotopaxi.
Read also: Visiting Chimborazo Reserve in one day
However, we were having a hard time going on a hike to the volcano. It was the beginning of the rainy season, and the weather was very unpredictable. So we missed two days, and finally set out on the third day.
The volcano is located in a protected area, and the entrance to the national park was quite close, just 14 km from the house of our friends. There’s a bus that goes there, but we decided to hitchhike.
First, a family picked us up, and we rode in the bed of their pickup truck. When the driver stopped, the car behind them also pulled over. It turned out to be two employees of the Ecuadorian Ministry of Tourism, and they offered to take us further. They were heading to a nearby village, not exactly on our route, but they kindly dropped us right at the entrance to the reserve. This time, we were quite lucky as there were no cars heading in the same direction on the road.
To enter Cayambe-Coca National Park, we needed to register, but there was no one at the checkpoint except a group of stray dogs. We greeted the dogs and decided to enter the national park without registration.
From the checkpoint to the refuge, it was a total of 11 kilometers with an elevation gain of 1060 meters. Walking this route would be quite challenging, and we knew we would get very tired. So, we decided to start walking on the road toward the refuge, hoping that someone would give us a ride along the way.
Suddenly, a dog decided to join us. He was a young dog, already quite large but still a puppy. He was incredibly cute. We thought he wanted to show us the way and immediately named him Gaidi (like a little guide). It was probably a mistake because this made us grow a little closer to the dog.
We thought he would eventually leave, but he continued walking with us for several kilometers until a pickup truck with road workers stopped. We asked if we could take the dog with us, and we jumped into the back of the pickup along with Gaidi.
They dropped us off about four kilometers before reaching the refuge due to road construction. We wanted to walk to the refuge, but our food supply was limited, and we realized we couldn’t walk all the way with Gaidi to the refuge, and then potentially back to the park entrance. Additionally, clouds were already covering half of the volcano, so walking further seemed somewhat pointless.
We sat on the grass by the road and had lunch. We fed Gaidi and another dog. Then, we simply started heading back down. Along the way, we turned onto a hill and took a few good photos together.
Once again, as expected, we walked the entire way back to the park’s entrance. Our little friend was very tired. At times, we carried him in our arms. It wasn’t necessary, but we felt very sorry for him.
And we hoped that he would stay where we met him, with the other dogs, but he kept on following us. We tried to stop him, to shoo him away, but he didn’t want to leave.
After some time, we stopped the van and got into the cabin. Before we closed the door, he looked at us, hoping that we would take him with us. But we couldn’t because we couldn’t. To our immense regret! The driver began to move, and I glanced back. At first, Gaidi stepped into the middle of the road, not knowing what was happening. Then he started running after us. He ran so fast, with all his might. I felt like crying at that moment. The driver was asking something, but I couldn’t speak properly. I felt very bad!
When we got home, I lay on the bed and just started crying. We only spent a couple of hours together with this little dog, but I loved him so much. I realized he was my soul mate. My heart broke when we left him there. I still deeply regret it, and I miss him very much! I want to go back, find him, rent a place, and take him with me.
With love and a broken heart from Ecuador, Vasya and Nastya