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Ecuadorean madness!!

Much as I love a lie in on a Sunday morning, this last Sunday curiosity got the better of me, impelling me to drag myself out of a comfortable bed and jump in a taxi to visit a highland lake almost before the sun had risen.

What gives? Well really I could barely believe that Ecuadoreans, not renowned for their sporting prowess or dedication to pursuits involving hardship (unless you include having to walk up steep Andean slopes anytime you leave the beaten path) were about to swim in a 3 mile race in an Andean crater lake. 20 minutes further on from Cotacachi we arrived to see a full blown sports meet in progress. As mists swirled around and over the lake, perhaps 2 or 3 hundred people bustled around, competitors entering themselves, families supporting, other swimmers smearing vaseline on themselves or those with a more generous budget donning neoprene swimsuits.

Looking acroos the lake you see two islands and on enquiring I heard that the winner would be the first one to round the islands and arrive back again. I was impressed to see two Americans entering the race – actually, I was stunned by their foolhardiness, but each to their own I say.
Closer examination revealed that this was a race of teenagers and perhaps a few in their twenties. Plenty of mums and dads were present to roar encouragement and then to look on anxiously as their loved ones disappeared from view.

The local Cotacachi band played live music to microphones that captured and amplified the brass section across the lake and further and those of us not caught up in preparation found time to order a canelaso, a cinammon drink fortafied with aguadiente according to taste.
I’ve never seen so many people at the Pier Restaurant and it was a strange sight to see folks huddled around roaring log fires at 7.30 in the morning and an even stranger notion, to me at least, to think that other less sane folks were about to plunge into 63 degree F. water for a 3 mile race so early in the morning.

As usual I’ll let the photos do the talking below;

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