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    • We leave the Vicuñas and the Volcano behind and find our next dirt section a few km away at a slightly lower altitude but still cresting just above 4000m

    • it's a simple dirt road headed to the town we're headed to Salinas, according to the map, nothing between the volcano and the town and you can see why; realistically why/ how would anyone want to live up here

    • We ride along as far as you can see in the above shot and there is small figure walking towards us, as we get closer we see its a little girl, maybe 5-years-old, we stop to check on her to make sure she is OK out here all alone, there is not a soul in sight

    • i'll let Egle take up the story from here...
      Riding a remote desolate dirt track somewhere around the Chimborazo volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes, Paul and I were talking how remote it felt. The track ran along the endless green highland grasslands and hills, zigzagging around jagged peaks and crossing small valleys. It felt like we were the only humans on Earth: the howling winds ruffled the grass, and there was no sight of any human activity - no houses in the distance, not even a pasture fence.
      Suddenly, turning a corner, we saw a tiny figure walking down the dirt road. As we rolled towards the little silhouette, we realized it was a small girl wearing a traditional Andean costume. She held a tatty rope in her hands.
      "Where are you going?", - I asked the little girl. She seemed about five years old.
      "To fetch my llama", - she said, looking at me incredulously. Of course, where else!
      "What's the name of your llama?"
      "Jimango", the little girl replied, all business-like. She was five and all alone in the highland pampa, and she was going to fetch Jimango the llama.
      I offered her a Kinder egg - I keep those in my tank bag just for such occasions. The little girl took one and looked at me, questioningly. I opened the egg and showed her a tiny toy inside. The girl wasn't impressed; she had to go get Jimango - there was no time for toys.

    • "And this part is all chocolate", - I told her. Unsure, the little llama herder dug her filthy little fingers into the egg, scooping up the chocolate and tasting it. She smiled.

    • Every year, many indigenous highland people migrate towards the cities in hopes of a better life. The little girl's mother, it seemed, was no exception.
      Tucking her Kinder eggs under her poncho, the little girl nodded and marched off. Jimango was waiting.
      I watched her in tiny silhouette in my mirror until she disappeared.
      We found her village - a small settlement of maybe ten or fifteen houses - some two miles later.

      Adventure riding isn't always about you, it's about the people you meet along the way and how a 5-year-old girl can be your inspiration for the day, hell even for the month...I'll let you dwell on that, and think about your daughter/ sister/ niece at 5 years old?