Sunday, March 4, 2012

the hills are alive

Yesterday we had a very sad goodbye.  But before that we had a very happy day.
We got to hang out with our friends the Tachenys for their last day and a half in Ecuador.  The Tachenys were one of the first families we met at language school in Costa Rica and they were one of the closest as well.  We spent many a pizza night at 2x1 pizza together (until our children cut up their kids play area....), most of the holidays, went on some great vacations, and Heather and I had weekly prayer dates.
One of the greatest blessings was that they were also going to Ecuador.  Even though they were is Shell, we got to see them every few months and always had a great time.  They, unfortunately for us, were finished their time here now, and we had to say a sad farewell. 
Before we said goodbye, we had some more good memories made.  
While lying in bed Saturday morning, I really didn't want to get up to go up a cold mountain.  But I am very glad we did.
We were all a little nervous about going to the Teleferiqo - it is usually packed and you have to wait a long time.  It was a banner day, however, as almost no one was there.  We even got prime, VIPish parking!  AND, even though the month of Feb. was over, wives were free for Valentine's month.   We weren't quite sure how that came about - that we still got this bonus on March 3, but we weren't about to point it out.
While the men were buying the tickets, the rest of us were enjoying the beautifully decorated ticket building.
 Good thing we were about to see some beautiful views.
Six people to a gondola, we we split up: the men
 and the women.
 We were all very carefully on our appropriate dots.

 Here come the guys.

 Now the air is thin enough at 9500 ft where we live.  Going up even a mere 2500 or so - you can definitely feel the difference.  Of course climbing up hill made a difference as well.

 The kids were quite excited when they saw signs for caballos - horses.  Since the trip up was less than we thought, we sprang for the $5/half hour ride for the kids.  Nothing is too expensive to see those happy smiles on their faces....  Of course, I jest..... plenty is too expensive.
 Since they threw in ponchos to wear, however, we knew we had ourselves a deal.

 Cade, Sam and Lucy were led most of the time, while the older girls rode on their own.

 Mike had this great idea of climbing higher with the horses.  The kids were a little scared going up so steep, but did really well.  Heather and I just figured we'd wait until they came back down - after all, then we could get some front shots instead of just taking pictures from behind.  It had nothing to do with not wanting to climb more.
 Maddy took the lead on the way back down.  I guess, actually her horse did.  He decided that he wanted to blaze his own trail instead of going on the path.  Maddy was thankful that Auntie Kim had given her some riding tips this summer!
 Naturally, all the other horses followed the first one.  There were a few looks of panic as they descended, but they all made it down without falling off, and ended up with smiles of satisfaction on their faces.
 Heather and I marveled about how quiet and peaceful it was up there.  It is so great to get out of the city.  And really the city is so beautiful - from up there!  We were so thankful that it wasn't busy like it usually is.  We almost had the mountains to ourselves, with the wind, sun and sky.

 We saw some guys out on this edge while we were hiking to the horses.  It was a must do photo op.  I wasn't even uptight with my hyper Lucy bouncing around need the edge of the drop-off.

 We got pretty hunger after all that activity, so what better lunch than hot dogs and french fries?  They looked great.  Once we tasted it, however, we realized that there were much better things for lunch.  Well, at least it silenced growling stomaches and their appropriate children.
 Some may call us foolish, but we let the kids go down in a gondola by themselves.  I think it might have just been another of our constant marvels that we can actually do things like that here....  There is no way you could send them off on their own like that in North America.  And quite possibly for very good reason.  Perhaps the thin air loosened our judgement.
 Brilliant parenting revealed itself again, however, when we arrived at the bottom to see our children quietly, patiently and calmly waiting for us.  So well behaved.  So charming.
We took a few more photos and then headed off to our private parking spot - one that was now roped off with caution tape.  No problem.  This is Ecuador - and caution tape does not mean what you think it means.  The guard merely held it up over our van and out we drove..... a mere $.50, and we were off.

In the evening we had a cozy evening of chili and "Hugo" - one last "big screen" movie at home together.  That is an event we often did together, and it needed to happen one last time.

After we said our goodbyes, I went to tuck in Cade.  I asked Cade how he felt about not getting to see Sam for quite a while.   He was a little mystified - I guess we weren't clear that we wouldn't be seeing them off at the airport in the morning.... and so tears ensued.
I'm not convinced that he would have said a "proper" goodbye, if he had realized that would be his last opportunity for a while, but our boy was sad at not doing it.  He will miss his buddy an awful lot.  We all will miss them.  An awful lot.

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