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Because we were unable to do any hiking on our first go at Cotopaxi, I knew I had to return the next day. Fortunately for us, Maeve was up shortly after 6am (after a very sleepless night, sorry fellow hotel guests!) and we were at Cotopaxi National Park not long after it opened. It was a very misty, cloudy morning and the entire time there was cloud coverage over Cotopaxi, so I’m really grateful we were there the day before. We hiked around La Laguna, which was mostly flat and took just over an hour. 

I firmly believe that God took extra care when he created Ecuador. It is so beautiful! I’m so grateful we had the chance to come to this incredibly National Park. I’m really, really glad we made this stop. 

Our next stop was Cotopaxi National Park. We made two visits to the park on two days. On our first day, we checked in and it was recommended to us to rent a 4x4 vehicle if we wanted to hike to the Refugio. We decided to see how far our car could get us. The drive into the park was breathtaking and as we drove up Cotopaxi, the cloud coverage slowly cleared, ultimately revealing the peak of the Volcano! It was mesmerizing and I had Conor pull over so many times to take photos! I loved every minute! In the end, perhaps we should’ve enlisted the 4x4, because at some point our gutless Chevrolet Spark could do no more and we had to roll down the mountain and turn ourselves around. Everything was so breathtakingly beautiful, that there was no room for complaints whatsoever. Only gratitude for where we were. We decided to go back down and hike the Lagoon, which we would’ve done if someone hadn’t locked the keys in the car! Fortunately opening a car manually (aka breaking in) is a common skill set and everything turned out okay, although it did chew up a couple of hours. We’re making memories! 

My favorite picture I took is the one of the llama and Cotopaxi in the background. Is this for real??? Yes, it is. 

We stayed one night very close to the south entrance of Cotopaxi park at the Rondador Hotel. It was such a great stay, with very friendly staff, especially with Maeve. The restaurant had really yummy food! It was such a pleasant time. I highly recommend traveling in Ecuador with a baby. Ecuadorians are so kind, but their kindness is magnified when you have a cute, blue eyed baby traveling with you. Maeve has helped us to make so many connections! 

The next rescue center we visited (Paseos Los Monos) had primarily monkeys but other animals as well. Again, it was another loop that we walked to see what we could see. It was really great! The whole loop, we were accompanied by a coatí, which is related to raccoons. She followed us and rooted around in the ground for snacks as we went. She was so friendly that a couple of times I almost step on her because she was underfoot. Something about having this little creature walk along with us made the visit extra special.

The place had a nursery for baby animals fed with bottles. There were 3 monkeys and a baby coatí. One of the monkeys was 14 months old and especially playful. Maeve was laughing so hard and it was the cutest thing ever! I loved watching Maeve point to all the animals. Safe to say, every member of our family enjoyed this day!

Our first full day in Baños took us to Puyo, which is the gateway to the Amazon. And that’s as close as we got to the Amazon. An issue with vaccinations, plus having a baby prevented us from going all the way into the Jungle. It’s an experience that I would like to have some future trip for sure.

Anyways, off to Puyo which was incredible! The drive took us all along a valley and a vast river. So many waterfalls as well! The animal rescue center, Yana Cocha, we went to first was really beautiful. It would be so fun to return as a volunteer for a couple of weeks. There were so many different plants and flowers. The vegetation was unreal. Thinking back on it reminds me of the Garden of Eden. We walked two loops (in the rain!!) and saw a lot of monkeys. Oh gosh, they are cute and Holly and Greta want one as a pet. And every time they told someone that they want one as a pet, Conor and I cringed because this is an animal rescue center and some of the monkeys were rescued from being pets. 

One creature we saw that I had never heard of before is the Zorro Vinagre or the jungle dog. Apparently this is the only one in Ecuador in captivity and it was pretty special to see it. We had a great time! 

When we were done we went into town to get Almuerzo (lunch), which was very traditional. Soup followed by chicken, rice, beans, a bit of salad and juice. It hit the spot

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