The wind whipped tiny mist droplets across our faces as we zipped up our jackets against the chilly air. It was unusually quiet, a surprisingly stark contrast to the constant drum of life in the lowlands.

The vegetation consisted of pale shades of tan and grey green, colors seemingly faded by the thick glaucous coating and fine hair like structures covering the stems and leaves of the succulent plants.

Rudy, our guide, explained how the fuzzy wool like fibers on the puya plant, a high altitude bromeliad, is used by hummingbirds to build nests to protect growing nestlings against the frigid year round temperatures.

Carpets of fine long grass waved back and forth like a horses mane against the fog shrouded peak of Pichincha. The city of Quito spanned the valley below, nestled between the volcanic Andean mountains.

It was a breathtaking experience to conclude our visit to Quito!

~ Virginia Tech student Christy Nelson

(The #VTEcuador crew is now safely back in Virginia! Read their journey starting here!)