Our long friendship started suddenly and unexpectedly when Andrea and I used to work at a six story building in downtown Quito. Her job as a lawyer's assistant and mine trying to complete my full-time internship in an economist consultant's office plus our university studies didn’t leave us enough free time to enjoy of those climbs that we climbers like.
Even though our job places were located very close to one another we never had the chance to meet for a couple of years.
October 7th, 1999. Smoke in the building and a forced evacuation led us to meet each other right before dusk. We just called it a day. But it didn’t end up there. We left our jobs earlier and started heading home. An unforgettable day, Guagua Pichincha, Quito's nearby volcano started its eruptive period after centuries of low volcanic activity. Its eruption covered the whole city with grey ash and turned day into night all of the sudden. Finding a ride home was out of the question. The city looked gloomy, like a ghost town or like an abandoned place after war. So we walked for hours.
That’s how Andrea and I met. Our talks during our long walk home were based mostly on our nine to five jobs, family, studies and of course outdoor stuff. We matched so well that it was easy to make climbing plans despite our busy schedules.
Living freedomDay after day, our meeting point was the building’s hall where we used to talk for hours, sharing our adventures and dreams. After work, we started frequenting the rocky walls of “El Rockodromo” until very late at night; the castle shaped climbing walls in Quito, our city. Little by little our paths joined, taking us to the highlands and to the high summits. We discovered new lands, met new people and friends.
We kept enjoying countless adventures, hikes and climbs. We get along so easily that we really followed through our climbing plans.
Andrea and I enjoyed any kind of outdoor activities and even those long waits while hitch hiking through our small country, standing at the roadside hoping to catch a ride to some place.
Our outdoor adventures continued. Our climbs were endless, one after another. There wasn’t anything better in the world for her than staring at the starlit sky after a long day's approaching from the camp site at night, searching for shooting stars or remote planets. Taking the lead on the trips was something she really enjoyed and performed well. Tough and decisive, nothing could stop her. She never gave up.
She loved and lived that freedom. She found peace and joy, the meaning of her life. It was meant to be, we thought, until we split our paths again (not our friendship) for personal and family reasons that arose later on and led her to resign to her dreams for a while (??). There was no future in climbing; it was time to settle down.
ReunitedWe kept in touch despite the distance. And after finding the chance to set her outdoor goals into the right path, my good friend and I finally reunited again and started planning more outings. All our plans and dreams took color again. Our plans were perfect, but they were just plans. It was too late.
Last daysA month later I got a call while riding my bike north of Ecuador, it was shocking!. I lost my best friend and climbing partner and at the same time my will. It just dragged me to the ground. I couldn’t believe it. We just made plans the day before and now she was gone.
Andrea died during the night, she was 29 years old. Her life full of energy and illusions faded away in a hospital’s room in Quito. It all seemed so unfair to me. I couldn’t even say bye to her. I couldn’t believe it was happening. Her bright look and the illusions that created her world was all I had in my mind at that moment from the day before.
AndreaAndrea was an amazing person, full of joy, enthusiasm and love for adventures, always willing to give her true love and unwavering support to me as a good friend and to others. I feel blessed for have been a tiny part of her outdoorsy life and to share a small part of mine with her. Now and then, even though she’s not with us anymore, I still feel as though she is watching over me often, as I climb. Her memories and her presence are all over those mountains, summits, trails and places we were at, but especially in the minds and hearts of all of us who got the chance to share those unforgettable moments with her.
+ Andrea (Aug.30.1977 – Mar.29.2007)