It's been nearly twenty four hours now at 10,000 feet and everything seems to be going pretty well.  Out of breath while climbing an impossibly steep and windy staircase to the top of a basillica and the occasional light headache but that's pretty much par for the course for us gringos.

So what's new and interesting?  Well Carnival fast approaches and we are told to expect waterballoons from children.  Some of them seem to be getting a head start - sherry got nailed in the back as we walked a market today.  Not to be out done we've picked up some ammunition for when things get worse.  When not pelting us with waterballons the children are often part of some elaborate simpathy scheme for money.  I don't think I've seen a child under 5 yet that wasn't begging come to think of it.  Plenty of teenagers though, perhaps it's just a rite of passage.

As far as actual training goes, today we got to work on our fixed line ascent.  Basically you have yourself tied to a rope in two different places in two different manners and you have to practice getting past knots or tiedown points without ever completely disconnecting from the rope.  It wasn't too hard except that they sent half of the group in one direction around the rope ring and the other around the other.  The collision mid way was fun.  We also learned what constitutes light packing for a moderate hike - and it isn't the same as what I would consider for that.  light hikes for me don't invole full goretex outerwear and your headlamp "just in case".

So yes, that means that tomorrow is our first ascent.  Wakeup call around 4:00am for breakfast at 4:30 and a departure by 5.  3 hours by van and we get to start actually treking.   This is also the only thing that is still consistant with our original schedule.  The mountains and snow have decided to have a little fun with us causing our team to have to rearrange the climb schedule.  Cotopaxi - which was to be our second summit - is now our last and one of our initial summits is now completey scrubbed.  We'll still hit 4 peaks but it's definately a schedule in flux.

No pictures right now since I forgot my camera cable and it's sunday and nothing is open (though plenty of shops should carry it).  It's rather a shame, otherwise right now you'd be looking at a bronze statue of a Klu Klux Klan's man.  If it isn't a klansman than it's a statue of a funny man holding a cross with a giant pointed hood with slits for eyes.  Not sure which makes more sense.  It was for sale on the edge of Gringolandia (gringo land, our unofficial home) so maybe it was there just to cause a stir.  Don't know.  I just thought it was funny.

Only other things to report were flying from seattle to huston with a couple in the two seats next to me that overflowed fairly well into my seat.  They had to lift the armrests so as to wedge their girth into the airline's admittedly tiny seats.  I didn't sleep very well on that flight.  Sherry was offered $200 and a first class upgrade if she was willing to go out on a later flight - but that would have given her a total of 20 minutes to change planes in texas so a no go there.

Not much else really, today was mostly a reconoitering day, getting used to the city and the people.  Getting used to haveing to consume 4 to 6 liters of water a day to properly counteract the altitude (this is including the diamox) and finding out which restaurants serve gringo friendly food.  More to come I'm sure.


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