Got back to the hotel in Ambato late tonight, had a completely unnecessary bite to eat, then went for a walk downtown with two other members of our team and the tireless and ever patient Andrea, our host, guide, and translator. Ambato was almost completely destroved in 1965 with the eruption of a close-by volcano and the accompanying earthquake. 20,000 people lost their lives and most of the downtown core had to be rebuilt. As a result, it is a really cool mix of colonial architecture and 1960´s\1970´s modernism. The scary thing for anyone who lives here is that seismologists say the volcano is guaranteed to blow again in no more than 50 years and that it could happen at any time. Andrea said if we had been here two weeks ago we would have heard the rumblings and seen smoke coming from the top of the mountain. Thankfully it seems to be feeling a little more mellow this week!
Although most of the tourist guidebooks say don´t bother visiting this city, I found it completly charming and safe, unlike Quito. We made our way past an enormous cathedral with the biggest doors I´ve ever seen, around the park at the city centre, then stopped in a pub for some great conversation. I love getting to know my coworkers without the pressure of meetings to attend and strategies to discuss. It´s a privilege for me to work with each and every one of them. If you have a couple of minutes to spare, pray for them for me.
Well, it´s been a great day and it´s been a great night. Can´t wait for my face to hit the pillow. Adios mes amigos!