As I mentioned in the last entry, the place we stayed in Salcedo was so cool in an Ecuadorian way. It's called Rumipamba de los Rosos,
and it appears to be one of those old haciendas you occasionally find that was converted into a hotel after the majority of the land surrounding it has been sold off. Our room was large and excellent and had a fireplace that was thoroughly enjoyed after a long day.
What made this place so interesting were the grounds. The spaces around the rooms were meticulously manicured,
but a walk around the surrounding grounds revealed, in addition to horses, ponies, and a random ill-tempered ostrich, a hodgepodge of curiosities.
How many hotels have an airplane in the front yard?
On the way to the Quilotoa crater lake, in addition to more spectacular scenery,
we got to do something really special. Our tour guide Juan has a friendship with a local indigenous family, and we were allowed to visit their mud hut home, which is called a "choza."
I don't think this igloo-shaped structure could have been even 15' in diameter, and 12 people lived there. Pitch black inside and lit with a single candle, the primitive life we witnessed was amazing. Guinea pigs roam freely around the home and are held close for warmth at night (and occasionally eaten, of course).
This tiny space is the "kitchen."
The grandfather proudly showed us the device he uses to grind flour.
And family members were proud to pose outside before we left.
We felt so honored to visit here because even most Ecuadorians will never have this experience. The happiness of the family in such crude surroundings was quite humbling.
Then on to Quilotoa crater lake, once again surrounded by remarkable vistas, including White Canyon, a geological oddity.
Quilotoa is the westernmost volcano in the Ecuadorian Andes. The two mile wide lake was formed after an eruption 800 years ago.
It was damned cold up there, and the descent into the canyon was steep and slippery because of the sandy soil. Still, we figured we wouldn't be back here anytime soon, so down we went.
We hiked down for about 30 minutes until the terrain became too challenging. Here's a video I took of our view (sorry about the wind noise):
After this remarkable excursion it was on to Quito, Ecuador's capitol and our final stop. Along the way we saw mighty Cotapaxi, the Mac Daddy volcano of the Andes.
We took a night tour of Quito's historic district, then ended our journey visiting some stunning churches.
Think the Temple of la Compania de Jesus looks ornate on the outside? It is estimated the inside walls are adorned with up to 7 tons of gold!!
We relaxed and reflected on the privilege of living in such a gorgeous country on our return drive to Cuenca. What an adventure!!