Arrived in Ambato, elevation 8200 feet, this past weekend. The 4+ hour drive from Guayaquil covered all sorts of terrain, from the flat to the mountainous. I think our driver Don Carlos rather enjoyed pushing my comfort level as he passed cars on two-lane mountain roads where it’s impossible to see traffic coming in the other direction. Suffice to say, better him than me, but also, better never!
After the warm and humid Guayaquil, it was an experience to feel the temperature gradually drop as we climbed higher and higher. We felt the thermal shock from the coastal summer to the mountain chill as we took a quick stop for pictures near the Chimborazo volcano. Apparently, due to the Earth’s flattened sphere shape, the summit of Chimborazo is the point on the Earth’s surface farthest away from the center, even farther than Everest. However, in elevation above sea level, Everest wins. Weird!
Ambato is a lovely smaller city, with a beautiful city center and a modern Cathedral built on the same site where prior churches and chapels have stood, only to be destroyed by earthquakes.
Cedemúsica, our host and sponsor, is a not-for-profit organization with the mission to organize, promote and implement music education. The executive director Rommel Jumbo and his wife Eva could not be more gracious. They’ve lodged, driven, fed and entertained us between the various events scheduled here: a master class with local piano students, a lecture-recital on Latin American piano music, and a solo recital.
The master class featured about ten students of varying levels. There is some great teaching going on here, but there is clearly a hunger for taking artistry to the next level. I could not have asked for more grateful and responsive students. And while I’m here, I get to continue working with the ones enrolled at Cedemúsica. Yay!
The lecture-recital and the solo recital went well, although I found myself feeling the altitude. During our stay here, the elevation has been noticeable: you tie your shoe, you’re out of breath. You climb stairs, you’re out of breath. You walk a few blocks, you’re out of breath. And, as I discovered, you play the piano, you’re out of breath and your arms feel like lead! Perhaps next time a few more days to acclimate. . .