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Monday, November 9, 2020

Exploring Ecuador - Day 7 - Quilotoa - a volcanic crater lake

Dear Family and Friends,

During our stay at the Black Sheep Inn, we took a day trip to Quilotoa, a lake that is in the crater of a blown out volcano.  It is like crater lake in Oregon, except it is over 10,000 ft. in altitude.


We did not spend a lot of time at the lake.  It is possible to hike all around the rim of the lake.  In fact just yesterday, I saw an article by a travel photographer about hiking around the lake.  If you are interested here is the link:  Hike Article

No doubt that the lake is beautiful.  What fascinated me more were the people and the llamas all along our road trip.  The highway is shared with people, llamas, dogs, pigs, you name it.  


I learned something on this trip that I did not know.  I thought llamas were only in the national parks here in Ecuador.  I did not realize how much they are still used as pack animals, especially at the very high altitudes.


Check this out.  This man has his pig on a leash.   The pig is too small to be going to market, just out for a little walk I guess.


Amazing people who depend on amazing animals.  


These people make my heart swell.  They are so knowledgeable about nature.  I told Chuck that these people could most likely survive a cataclysmic event where we could not.  They have so much knowledge that we do not have.  I say this as I am using my computer on wifi, I can't cook a dish without looking on youtube first.  



Speaking of people and llamas, here is a pair.  You put some glasses on that llama and these two could be brothers.  

These last two pictures tell a little story.  I saw this woman ahead in the road and asked Chuck to stop.  This woman came up to Chuck's window and asked for some money.  From the passenger side of the car, as he gave her money, I could see that there could be a photo opportunity.


YES!!  That tyke on the llama got curious about my cell phone.  He leaned over so he could get a better look through Chuck's window.   "CLICK"  got it!!  This might be my best photo ever.  Not bad for an amature.  Sometimes you just get lucky.



That's about it for this post.  Next time I will share some pictures of the city of Ambato.  

Love,
Nancy and Chuck

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Exploring Ecuador - Day 6- Black Sheep Inn

Dear Family and Friends,

At the end of the drive, we arrived at our destination, Black Sheep Inn, located at 10,400 feet. It is an eco lodge and is not inexpensive.  Yes, you pay good money to experience what life could be like if we all lived with preserving the environment first.  It turned out to be an awesome stay.

The rooms turned out to be cabins.  This is the main building, containing sofas, books, games, tables, and wifi.  There was a counter that always had fresh cookies, brownies, coffee and tea to partake at your liking.




Since the inn looks out over the mountains and valley, there are many areas for just relaxing and enjoying the view.


Even a treehouse type deck that you get to by walking across a swinging bridge.

As you can see they need lots of wood to keep things nice and warm.  All meals are provided, but I did not see the kitchen.  Odds are that they cook with a wood stove.


Another deck for enjoying the view.



The yoga room.


The gym.  Rustic but workable.

The best part, was our cabin.  


The bedroom was adequate.  Lots of wool blankets on the bed.



And at the foot of the bed was a loft for a third person to sleep.  Man, would I hate to negotiate that ladder in the middle of the night.



Here is Chuck firing up our heat source.  The little stove worked so well, that it just took a few minutes for the cabin to be nice and cozy.



Outside our bedroom was a enclosed sitting out porch.



The bathroom started out looking pretty much like a bathroom usually looks. The shower was cool because the walls of the shower were made with colorful glass bottles embedded in cement.



The fun part, was the toilet.  It was a compost toilet.  At first I wasn't sure I would like it, but actually it worked very well.  No smell what so ever!  


This box, sitting next to the toilet, contains bark, sawdust, and I don't know what all,  a scoop and a broom.  After using the toilet (pee or poop) you scoop up this stuff and dump it in the hole.  It is all dry, no water at all.  The broom is for sweeping everything off if you spill some.



Here are the instructions that were pasted on the wall above the toilet.


I did not have an indoor outhouse on my bucket list, but I have it checked off.  

And, for Chuck's convenience was a urinal, that you flush by filling up the tin cup and pouring water through the funnel on top.  The water drains out into the garden.



We were there for a couple of nights.  Such a nice, relaxing stay and we felt good that we were off the grid, more or less and not messing up the environment.

The next post will be about a day trip journey to a huge volcano lake. 

Love,

Nancy and Chuck

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Exploring Ecuador - Day 5(b) - Latacunga to Black Sheep Inn


Dear Family and Friends,

Our drive from Latacunga to the Black Sheep Inn was filled with so many things I had to make a separate post.  Here I am posing with a local artist, but more about that later.  


We were climbing even higher in the Andes.  The scenery was getting even more beautiful.


This is a typical woman of the region.  She is wearing the typical clothing.  She is also appreciating the beauty of her homeland, just as we were doing.


I don't know why, but I always thought you could not ride a llama.  I was truly surprised when we saw this kid riding a llama.  In this area, very high in the Andes, they are used as pack animals.  We saw llamas everywhere and very few horses.  I think the llamas are more adapted for the altitude.


Besides the bus, this is another common form of transportation.


We shared the highway with sheep.  These guys seemed to be following a dog.


As we passed them, I was able to get a photo that is up close.

We passed through an area of Ecuador known as the Tigua region.  It is known for artists of folk art.  We saw this man on the side of the road and I yelled STOP.



This young man spoke perfect English.  He explained that we was dressed in a traditional celebratory costume.  He told me that he was and artist and invited us to come inside his studio.

These masks are very famous Ecuador folk art,


along with primitive style brightly colored paintings.  He explained to me what his message was in the painting below. This particular painting really spoke to me.

The letters F.M.I. are the abbreviation, in Spanish, for the International Monetary Fund.  The protests we had all over Ecuador about this time last year was about Ecuador securing a loan through this organization. In order to receive the loan, the IMF interferes with how the Ecuador government manages their country.  In the process hundreds of thousands of people lose their jobs, transportation costs are no longer subsidized and many other things that impact the poorest of Ecuador's citizens.  It is not just Ecuador, the IMF has ruined lives in many South American countries.


The next village we came to, Zumbahua, had a bunch of makeshift curbside restaurants.  Traffic was pulling off the road and parking.  We stopped because it looked interesting.  It turned out to be adventure eating for us.



The first booth we went to had two ladies cooking food over a charcoal grill.


A close examination of what they were cooking let us know that this was not going to be our lunch.  This is what I can tell is on the grill:  lots of chicken feet, chicken gizzards and things I am not aware of.  The small birds in front are a mystery.  Looking at the size of them compared to the size of the chicken feet says they are extremely small.


We moved on, deciding that there is a limit to our adventure eating.  This lady and many, many more ladies were frying pork in huge caldrons.  They were they all were cooking the same menu.  Fried pork, grilled bananas, boiled potatoes, fava beans and grilled corn topped with a slice of fresh cheese.



We finally picked some ladies to buy our lunch from.  I asked if there was some place for us to eat our meal.  


We were escorted to this dining room.



This is a picture of my plate.  


We were the only people in this dining area.  For an adventure eating meal, it was pretty good.  The pork could have been more tender, but it was chewable and tasty.  Each meal was about $2.00


After we finished lunch, we rode a little way more down the highway until we came to a canyon.  We parked and paid the $1.00 to see it.  


We hiked down a little to have a look.  It is not a ""grand canyon" that is for sure and for my Georgia friends, it is not even a "providence canyon."  But when you are riding along the highway and come to a roadside attraction, you just have to stop.


We continued our journey on to Black Sheep Inn. 

Next post I will tell you all about this eco lodge haven.

Love,
Nancy and Chuck