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Friday, August 26, 2011

Northern Ecuador trip in a Nutshell

Dear Family and Friends,

I planned to spend more time sharing with you about our trip in northern Ecuador but life is getting in the way.  We returned to Cuenca Tuesday night and we are off to the coast tomorrow morning.  More about that later, right now I want to share pictures of our trip north with you.

We went to Cotacachi after we left Quito.  We spent one night there and enjoyed seeing the city.  We were curious about Cotacachi because this is another city that many North Americans choose for their retirement.  It is a small town located in a valley between two volcanoes, Cotacachi and Ibarra. 

This is the volcano named Cotacachi that we could see from our hotel room.

This is the other volcano, named Ibarra.

The city specializes in leather goods.  They have a whole street several blocks long dedicated to leather stores.  Chuck bought a real nice leather jacket.

We drove from Cotacachi to the Cotacachi-Cayapas Ecological Reserve.  This is a lake that is in the crater of a volcano that erupted thousands of years ago. It reminded us of Crater Lake in Oregon, but not as large.  Notice the two islands in the lake...they are cones that have formed since the eruption.

We drove to Ibarra and then to Tumbabiro and stayed in a wonderful hosteria that Chuck had read about.  It is owned and operated by Germans.  The name is Hosteria Pantiva

It reminded us a lot of Izhcayluma in Vilcabamba.  A real nice hosteria.  Here are some pictures I took while we were there.

We met a very nice couple, Sandy and Phil, who have lived near the hosteria for about 7 months.  They bought a lovely home with beautiful gardens just up the road.  They are the only gringos living for miles around.

They invited us to spend the day with them and showed us their beautiful property.  They took us to Mascarilla, a village about 30 minutes away.  This village is occupied by black people who came from Esmeraldas, Ecuador to work in the sugar cane fields.  The women in this village make ceramic masks.  We shopped and enjoyed seeing their beautiful work.

We spent the night in Ibarra and the next morning headed to Peguchi-Otavalo.  We shopped for woven rugs and wall hangings.  Their work is very good and the colors are so vibrant.

From there, we went to Banos.  We stayed a couple of nights in Banos relaxing and enjoying wonderful restaurants.  One reason we went to Banos was to visit the Biblioteca Interactiva (Interactive Library).  This is an after school program for the children of Banos.  The Biblioteca has yard sales to help fund their program.  We cleaned out our condo over the last month and took things there for them to sell at their next yard sale.

Here is Chuck chatting with one of the ladies who works with the children.....

And, here are some of the kids having fun playing a game.

After resting up in Banos we headed back to Cuenca.  On the way home we stopped in Guano, located just outside of Riobamba.  This town is noted for their beautiful hand tied carpets.  We bought carpets for the rental condo as well as where we live now.

We were very interested in how the carpets are made.

We really loved the quality and had a hard time deciding which carpets to buy.

This is a rug we bought for the condo where we live.

Between my luggage from the U.S. and the treasures we bought on our trip, we had a full load when we arrived in Cuenca.

It was a wonderful trip and we look forward to going back to some of the places we visited.

Now..the reason I am sharing the whole trip in one post is because we are leaving in the morning to go to Santa Rosa for a festival.  Lourdes and William invited us to go and celebrate with them.  We are very excited to participate in this Ecuadorian experience.

I'll share about our trip to Santa Rosa next time.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Being Tourists in Quito

Dear Family and Friends,

Chuck picked me up late Tuesday evening at the Quito airport.  We stayed in Quito at the Radisson hotel for a couple of nights.  As planned, we wanted to vacation in northern Ecuador before returning to Cuenca.

We awoke on Wednesday to the most beautiful weather I have known in Quito.  Here is a view of the magnificent volcano Cotopaxi  from our hotel window.

Guayasamin Museum

Chuck had our tours all planned out.  The first day we visited the Guayasamin Museum. Oswaldo Guayasamin was born in Quito in 1919.  He rose from poverty to become Ecuador's best known and most beloved painter and sculptor.  Through his art he supported the rights of the indigenous peoples of Ecuador and criticized their social inequities and oppression.

He is so popular among Ecuadorians that imitations of his work can be found everywhere.  If you live in Ecuador you will easily recognize his paintings.

Guayasamin died in 1999 and left his home and art collection to the city of Quito. 

The museum is located on a hill overlooking Quito, where he lived and painted.  Guayasamin's large collection of pre-colombian art is available to see along with a collection of Latin religious art.

Crystal Palace

On Thursday morning we headed out in Puff Puff with our new GPS system to find the Crystal Palace.

The Crystal Palace also known as the Itchimbia Cultural Center is located on a hilltop that was a sacred site pre-dating the Inca.  The site was discovered in the 1920's. In 1997 the hillside was rescued by the city of Quito.

The Crystal Palace itself was originally imported from Hamburg to Ecuador in 1889.  It was the Santa Clara market in Quito until it was disassembled and moved to it's present location.  It is used as a cultural space for exhibitions and performances.

The view of historic Quito is spectacular, especially on a beautiful day like we had.

Here is a great view of the Basilica from the Crystal Palace site.

We enjoyed two touristy things we had never done before leaving Quito and heading north to Cotacachi.

More later.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Catching Up - Fun with Family

Dear Family and Friends,

I had so much fun in the U.S. and such little time to spend with family that I put off posting about it until I got back to Ecuador.

After visiting with Kylie and Bryce in California, I flew to Texas to see my brother, sister-in-law and my mother.  My brother Norman is the one I visited last February when he had quadruple by-pass surgery.  He is doing great and I am happy to report that he feels like a new man.

 My mother is living in an assisted living facility just a few blocks from Norman and Nancy.  She likes where she lives and she is in good hands.  My mother has Alzheimer disease.  Every time I visit her I am not sure if she will know me.  Although she can't remember five minutes ago, she knew me when I walked into her room.  We had a grand reunion and I am happy that we could share this special time.  Norman, Mom and I went out to lunch and we went to a movie.  I hope to get back to see her in again in about 6 months. 

After a about three days in Dallas I flew to Columbus, Georgia to visit with my sister, Mary Anne, Larry, my brother in law and aunts and cousins.  I was only in Columbus a couple of days so my time was very limited.  I visited with my mother's sisters, Aunt Opal and Aunt Mildred and my cousin, Linda.  I had one day to shop for two large suitcases and fill them up with goods to bring back to Ecuador and one day to visit.  To all my family in Columbus that I did not see on this trip, I will be returning (maybe in February) and hope to stay longer and hug all of you.

This first picture is of my Aunt Opal and cousin Linda.  We had a great lunch together.

 This second picture, I had to take and post.  I guess it is a sign of the times in the U.S.  It was posted on a door of a restaurant in Columbus.

Thank you Mary Anne for chauffeuring me to what seemed like every store in Columbus.  I got all needed supplies and really enjoyed our time together.

I flew back to Ecuador on Tuesday.

Chuck drove Puff Puff to Quito to meet me.  We spent a day in Quito being tourists and now we are in northern Ecuador (almost to Colombia) visiting places we have not seen.

I will post about our Ecuador vacation next time.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Visiting Kylie & Bryce in California

Dear Family and Friends,

I flew out of Cuenca on Thursday for a two week whirlwind visit to family in the U.S.  My first stop is in California visiting with daughter Kylie and grandson Bryce.  We are enjoying being together for a few days.  Yesterday we took the BART into San Francisco and went to China Town.

I really enjoyed watching Bryce explore (as only a six year old boy can do) the wonders of the big city.

Here is my lovely daughter Kylie.

Here is Bryce with three other little monkeys,

We even got to enjoy some fun street entertainment.

Tuesday I will fly to Dallas to visit my mother,  brother and sister-in-law.  I am excited about seeing them, but am not looking forward to the heat they are experiencing there.

I'll give you a first hand report next week.