Latacunga, south of Quito about 2 hours, is a place you visit to do the Quilotoa Loop, a beautiful scenic hike around a volcano and lake that “has no bottom”. From Quito they offer a day tour, but since I was heading south anyway, I decided to make a base in Latacunga.

The town itself has been destroyed by angry eruptions of nearby volcano Cotopaxi. It happens about every 120 years, the last time being in 1904… Quick math tells me this might not be a great time to be in Latacunga, and in fact, when I arrived I learned that old Cotopaxi had been rumbling and shooting out some ash. “Tranquilo,” the hotel operator told me, “Don’t worry.”

Despite his lack of concern, I had come to Latacunga hoping to experience the “Mama Negra” festival, but it had been cancelled due to explosions heard coming from Cotapaxi. Being the Monday and Tuesday after Halloween, it was a holiday, and almost everything was closed (holidays tend to last a bit longer in South America, I’ve noticed). I spent a couple days wandering the streets, getting exercise, and hanging out at the Nice Cream Cafe, which had an excellent, low-carb low-fat salad.

After looking at the bus schedule for Quilotoa, I decided it was easier to do the day tour from Quito when I return at the end of my trip. Off to Baños.

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