8/12/2014

TRAVEL TUESDAY : ECUADORIAN HIGHLANDS {PART I}


I am no where near done sharing you my beautiful pictures from Ecuador. I recently downloaded all 2000+ photos on my computer and I completely relived my entire trip! Last "Travel Tuesday" I shared with you the history and magic of Ecuador's capital Quito. Today; however, I will take you on a journey into the highlands of Ecuador. During my stay in the highlands of Ecuador nested in the Andes I could truly begin experience the culture, exotic customs and geological diversity that this beautiful country has to offer. At this point in my trip I am still not adjusting to the almost 10,000 foot elevation (#livingatsealevelprobs), and every morning I suffered severely from bloody noses, cracked faces and frizzy hair. Elevation was just a minor problem to face: I had Ecuador to discover!!

The first stop in my journey through the highlands was the famous monument of the Equator. This little park looks pretty ordinary when you first lay eyes on it. See that yellow pole? It's actually very important because the park is one huge sundial. Because of the shadow that the pole casts, you can tell the time of day because of the giant, natural clock face! The coolest part about the the sundial tube (for lack of better words) is that every day at high noon the sun goes directly inside and shines out to all ends of the park. Sadly, I was there at 11:00 am in the morning. And there at this park in Ecuador, is the only place on the Equator where you can see snowcapped mountains (as pictured above).  


Wheel pose over the Northern and Souther Hemispheres was absolutely necessary. 


After a short bus ride, we took a visit to a local farm in the Andes that produce a great number of the roses that are exported. There, we learned about the process of growing the beautiful Ecuadorian blooms. Did you know that the Russian like to have their roses shipped to them with a length of almost 6 feet with thorns in, while Americans prefer shorter roses without thorns? The time we visited, there were not a lot of roses in bloom, but rather in the process of growth and blooming. These Ecuadorian rose farms provide work for women. The rose farms are so centered towards women's labor that they even provide a daycare for their children!





As I said before, Ecuadorians are very warm, welcoming people. The place we has lunch at was actually someone's home that they had converted into a restaurant. The old house was actually like a ranch home, placed beautifully in the center of fields and fields of crops and trees. Lunch was a smorgasbord of Ecuadorian foods: quinoa soup (I thought it tasted like peanut butter!), trout, empanadas, chicken, mixed salads, chocolate cake and cookies served with dulce de leche . After the meal I could not help but explore the grounds and snap pictures of the colorful interiors and exteriors of this beautiful home. 






After visiting one family home, we travelled to another family's home. Here, the family specializes in local Andean music. They showed us how they created the pan flute, gave us a music demonstration and even allowed us to try our hand at making our own flute!




After our flutes had been made, we walked (read: paraded playing out flutes loudly #theAmericanshavearrived) down the street. In the town, we stumbled across a local festival celebrating some kind of harvest (I think). Men dressed in women's costumes and women in men's costumes danced all along the square just being happy, happy people celebrating who knows what. Okay you see that little alleyway all the way to the right of the picture? After someone in costume tried to seduce IPM and I (don't worry it was in a friendly, festival manner), we walked down that alleyway to meet yet another Ecuadorian family. 




This family specializes in weaving of many different textiles using natural dyes and alpaca wool. This man here is José, he is the master of weaving at this particular family shop. I think that I saw at least 20 textiles with his name embroidered in the bottom. 



After a day of exploring, it was time to visit out hacienda (hotel) nestled in the Ecuadorian highlands for the first time. We were welcomed into yet another family's 300 year home with a beautiful peacock. 

Funny back story: IPM and I were quoting the movie "Up" like the entire trip. "Good afternoon, my name is Russell. And I’m a Wilderness Explorer in tribe 54, sweat lodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?”, "It's like America, but south.", "Kevin's a girl?" just to name a few. But that night eating dinner we kept hearing calls from some wildlife creature that sounded almost prehistoric. Later we found out that the call was coming from the peacock. It sounded just like the bird, Kevin, from "Up". So naturally, IPM and I called the peacock "Kevin" for the rest of the trip.


Every aspect of the hacienda was very Ecuadorian, from the colorful interiors to the lush exteriors. 

There was even a room for wifi, a first Instagram post in almost one day!!! #gasp



Look at little Kevin showing off, Kevinita (nickname for the female peacock) was very unimpressed by his performance. 



At last, when it became bedtime, the temperature had dropped to at least 40 degrees. After shivering our way from the main house where dinner was held to the little building that our room was, IPM and I were greeted with an alpaca blanket draped over our beds, a fire in the wood stove and a hot water bottle in our beds. This could not be a more perfect ending for a more perfect day. 

Side note - the Ecuadorians really know how to celebrate the harvest! They were partying, playing music, singing and celebrating to at least 3 in the morning! 

Come back next week for part two of the Ecuadorian Highlands. 

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1 comment

  1. Lucky girls to have such an incredible adventure! #envious GM

    ReplyDelete

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