Friday, February 18, 2011

Horsing Around

Grab this related post Widget!

Our dear friend Juan Heredia, owner of TerraDiversa tour company, invited Cynthia and I to go horseback riding at his family's hacienda in Tarqui. Followers of this blog already know my response: Por que no?!

As we drove to Tarqui, a short 40 minutes from Cuenca, the breathtaking beauty of the countryside made me realize that all of us who live in the city should make ourselves regularly take excursions like this. It's perhaps hard for readers still in their homeland to understand, but when we're caught up in our daily life it's easy to forget we actually live in South America. Yeah, everybody speaks Spanish and there's no Wal-Mart and all that, but when you're just doing your thing those seemingly glaring differences somehow fade from consciousness perhaps like living next to a railroad track or an airport. And what's left is you doing your thing.

Juan's place is pretty darned spectacular.

We took a tour of the property, learning that in addition to being a wonderful weekend getaway for the family, Hacienda Totorilla produces milk for local dairies and true free range eggs for individual families.

The property also serves as the base for his company's getaway trips in the 2 bedroom guest house

and for his horseback riding excursions.

On "official" trips the horses are saddled up and ready to ride, but since ours was somewhat of an impromptu visit we drove to another part of the property to begin our outing. We expected to end up at a stable, but, no, Juan's nine horses are "free range" like his chickens, so we had to round up our three steeds from a pasture before setting out.

He explained that stabled horses counter-intuitively are often more difficult to train for trail riding because they are confined so much. And sure enough, once saddled each horse stood patiently right in place until all were saddled and ready to go.

Even the best photos can't properly capture the incredible scenery we enjoyed.

Sometimes along the trails we were surrounded by lush forests teeming with wild orchids and bromeliads; then we would emerge into impossibly green pastureland. Always the horses were very accommodating of their somewhat inexperienced passengers.

Our ride was cut a bit short by another of the frequent afternoon storms we have been experiencing here lately.

To avoid getting soaked we took a shortcut back to the hacienda and prepared omelets for lunch from the freshest eggs ever! After some wine on the porch we reluctantly headed home, but are already discussing plans to return for a longer stay to soak up the total tranquility we experienced there.

I highly recommend anyone visiting Cuenca, and especially those of us living here, to contact Juan ( about his horseback riding excursions--no riding skill needed, just the desire to enjoy the countryside in a very unique way and to have a great time!--and any of his other tours. I have been on several and each has exceeded my expectations.


Sapa Ynca said...

looks likes great trip! I often wonder did you grow up in the country?

Edd Staton said...

Heck, no. Born & raised in Atlanta. Total city boy.