Moutain Biking Down Cotopaxi: A Fearful, Fantastic Ride

Ecuador Journal Series
I wrote about my Ecuador study abroad, but have yet to post it. Since I am not traveling and have some time, I will post some of my best memories from that 2010 trip. This will make the blog chronologically erroneous and confuse the reader. Oh well.

This was my first brush with death since I arrived in Quito.

Hindsight it wasn't that bad, but at the time, riding a shitty bike down a steep volcano, gripping the handlebars with frozen fingers, dodging cars coming up the other way, and avoiding the crater-like ditches on either side of the winding dirt road, was terrifying.

It was my first time mountain biking and not a trip for beginners. After my 3rd fall, I realized it was just part of the game, picked up the bike, and started again. I was even able to enjoy it... after that first leg.


Earlier that Saturday morning, my classmates and I woke up early and met at the school for our first weekend trip of our new study abroad experience. The program directors decided to let us acclimate to the 9,200ft altitude of Quito by driving 14,500ft up Cotopaxi, one of the highest active volcanoes in the world, and then biking down.

Enron Guy Turned Petra Tourist Guide

People on the Road Series      
Many times, I've heard travelers say that it was the people that made their trip great. In this series, I will write about the more memorable characters that I was lucky to meet and learn from. Some I knew for only a few hours, others a week or longer. 
*I don't use real names.

Brady is the guy that Karen and I ran into here. He was wearing sunglasses when he first approached us so Karen didn't recognize him for a sec and gave him a "Who the fuck are you and why are you touching me look." He quickly took off his glasses.  

She had talked about him earlier. All I remembered was that he was a Jewish (Hebrew?) studies grad who wasn't Jewish.

Lesson Learned in Negotiating Part I.

I'm bad at negotiating. I get sweaty palms and a guilty conscious, like I'm committing a crime by asking for a better price. But living and traveling in South America, I have improved. 

Nobody ever taught me the basics of how to negotiate. I never went to a store or car dealer to see how my parents haggle. I never thought it was a necessary skill. 

Since traveling, I've learned that it can save you money when buying souvenirs at a market or when selling yourself to a landlord. Sometimes you win big, sometimes you win small, and sometimes not at all. But it adds up and is a skill that gives back 100s or 1000s over time.