Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Time To Say "Adios, Amigos"!! Cotacachi, Ecuador

Slept in a bit on Monday and got a late start to our day.  Actually, kind of nice to just kick back and enjoy our luscious accommodations!!  I actually woke up realizing that I had started to dream in Spanish.  Problem is that I can't remember what I said, except I know I was speaking pretty well! LOL  It's a start, at least.

We had gotten the name of a tour guide, Luis Guevara, from Suzan Haskins and set out with two missions.  One to find Mike a new small flashlight for his pocket; and, two to find Luis.  We chose to find Luis first to set up a "4 Villages Tour".  Finding his shop across from the bus terminal we discovered he was out on a tour but they told us to call him, which we did.  Because of his schedule and ours, it was decided that that afternoon would work best at 2:30pm.

So while we had time, we set out to find Mike his small flashlight, a "linterna pequeña".  We walked and walked, neighborhood after neighborhood.  Nope, none to be found in this town so we gave up.  Decided to just go explore some more neighborhoods that we hadn't seen.  Found some interesting sites and enjoyed our walk tremendously!!  Along the way, I bought a pair of small loop earrings for my 2nd holes and went to the bank.

We met Luis at 2:30pm in front of his small "tienda" (grocery store) and off we went!  Because we didn't have the usual 4 hours for the tour because of dinner plans, he proceeded to consolidate our tour into 2 hours!  Funny, but we didn't feel rushed but boy did that truck go fast!!

A little history, there are 46 indigenous villages around Cotacachi and 90 villages around Otavalo.  We started off in Luis' village only 10 minutes away at his families hammock making business in their home.  Amazing weaving on beautiful looms.  Bummer was that I wanted one so bad but can't buy!! 

The next stop was in a village, Peguche, where a wonderful gentleman wove hundreds of different wall hangings/rugs from MEMORY!!  Not one pattern is written down.  Amazing beauty and art!!  Oh, sooooo wanted at least one!! Video of weaving: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6146856

From there we went to another family owned business where they make pan flutes, hundreds of them in a day.  Most of them are exported to Japan. The family is very musically talented and has toured throughout the US, Canada, Asia, and Spain.  Incredible!  Enjoy the video of the music: https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6146887


Our last stop was in a very small village on the side of a hill where an 80 year old gentleman has been weaving since he was 10.  He still weaves with the family looms that are 160 years old.  His wife and partner had just passed away 3 weeks ago but he was so gracious in showing us how he hands weaves so many beautiful pieces of ponchos (2 months of work), scarves, sweaters, and wall hangings.  Again, amazing beauty and talent that is being lost as the young are not following in the family footsteps.  Video of is weaving:  https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6146967

Our evening was spent with friends, Suzan Haskins and Dan Prescher.  A nice time of visiting them at their home having great conversation over drinks.  They had just finished a remodel/addition onto their condo and it was a delight to see it!  From there we went to dinner at Serendipity and I had my favorite, meatloaf and mashed potatoes!  As they were leaving the next day for an IL conference in Las Vegas, we said our "Hasta Luegos".  I know we'll be seeing each other again!!  So enjoy making new friends that are like minded!

This morning dawned a better weather day, as it's been really windy and cooler the last couple.  Mike and I had decided we wanted to go explore Ibarra, which is a large commercial center for the northern part of Ecuador.  So off to the bus station we went and after paying $.90 we were on our way!  Beautiful back roads weaving our way through beautiful landscape and small villages.  This country is simply stunning!

Once disembarked from the bus, we caught a taxi to take us to Parque La Merced.  There's a huge cathedral there and we timed it well, as there was a big celebration in the church going on for something.  Not sure what but it was nice to see.  Plus, they were setting off fireworks from the top of the roof of the cathedral.  Every see anything like that in the states??!!! NOT!

We spent hours exploring all of the beauty and old colonial buildings of this city.  Stopped at fabulous Olor A Café.  What a unique, fabulous place!

From there we meandered toward the Cultural Museum, where we spent quite a bit of time meandering and enjoying the artifacts of Ecuador.  Very much like in Bahia and Cuenca.

From there we discovered another beautiful Basilica Dolorosa.

Our next mission was to go to Rosalia Suarez's Helado Shop!!  The creator of the recipe and technique passed away 25 years ago at the age of 105.  We met her granddaughter, who was managing the shop.  It was a perfect treat and went down so easy!  I had chocolate and Mike had Guanabana.  A true delight!

After more wandering around, we heard music being played so we followed our ears and came up a large band playing on the street but never did quite figure out who they were or why they were playing on a Tuesday afternoon.  But, we certainly enjoyed it!  Enjoy the video of the music! https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6146032

More wandering and exploring and it was time to find a watering hole to have an afternoon libation.  As we had walked by a delightful restaurant/bar down by the museum and the day turned out glorious, we decided to go back there and have a drink on their patio.  A nice way to end our time in Ibarra!!

A quick cab ride back to the bus station, where we actually found an assortment of small flashlights for $.75 in a shop, so he bought 2!  Through the gate and onto the bus back to Cotacachi.  Mike took this awesome picture through the bus window of Cayambe, which has a completely snow covered peak and is 5790 meters high (about 18,996')!

Once back, we decided to have our last dinner at a restaurant we kept walking past right around the corner from our hotel, La Casa Del Turiste.  We had a good meal and met a fabulous young couple, Amanda and Hiero.  Amanda is from Manhattan, Kansas and met her husband, Hiero, who was attending college there also.  We had a delightful time talking with them!  They're both teaching English at the local high school and are planning on getting their masters so that they can teach at the university.  Good luck to you both!

As ALWAYS, thanks to my beloved, Mike, for his exquisite picture taking!!

Time to unwind and chill out on our last evening in Cotacachi.  Enjoyed it so but time to move on to experience and enjoy Quito.  And, so the journey continues....

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