It’s one of those places you can lose yourself in forever. Towering trees. Endless paths that lead to somewhere. Likely a panoramic view or a park full of things for both adults and kids to enjoy.
We love Parque Metropolitano Guangüiltagua.
It’s a beautiful forest on the southeast side of Quito. A great place to take dogs where off-leash is openly accepted. Bikes are plentiful. And trails range anywhere from rustic and narrow, lined with gnarled tree roots and low hanging branches. To wide and paved, perfect for a more relaxed kind of adventure.
We went there this past weekend fully loaded with two giant dogs, sandwiches and apples. Picnic tables with barbecues are everywhere. By reservation only. And always filled with laughing families and delicious smells. It always makes me feel a little sad. A little homesick. And I tell myself, next time…that will be us.
That day though, it was the three amigos plus pups. We parked up on a bench after a walk vigorous to induce some sweat. Unloaded the kiddo from his backpack. And off he went. Sliding down slides at speeds that surprised even him. Climbing jungle gyms with careful abandon. Turning everything in sight into a balance beam.
Next up was a mirador decorated with giant columns painted in bright colors. We sat. Looked out at the view. Found our house from up high. And took a few photos.
And so went the day.
With nowhere to be and nowhere to go, our treks with a toddler look very different than the ones my husband and I used to take when it was just us and Zanz. We cover less ground. Take less risks. More snacks. And about the same amount of selfies.
At first, this new way of exploring felt strange. No longer were we together on a mission to climb the highest. The farthest. The widest. Challenging our stamina and athleticism until the sun said no more in search of everything the world had to offer with boundless vigor.
Instead, I remember the first time we came to this park with a stroller. Our trusty BOB, with tires and suspension built to withstand a lot. But not this. Darwin clung to the sides as Nate muscled past obstacles with a mix of brute force and frustration. Random strangers lent a helping hand pulling on wheels and fabric with amused grins on their faces.
But you figure it out. You learn where to go and how. And suddenly, you have a frame of reference to draw from that meets who you are today. You can pack lightly and efficiently while making sure all needs are met. Have a better gauge on all the levels. And of course, you know when it’s time to call it a day. Probably late afternoon, right around his nap.
And you start to see things that you thought you knew so well in a very different light. No longer unsure about the fact that it’s not quite like it was before. Because it never will be. And while it was once scary as shit to realize that when you didn’t know where you were going. Only where you’ve been. Once you get there, you never want to leave.