ted & pamela

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Jungle to Andes Highlands: Ecuador Day 4

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

*Written 2010-07-03; Posted by WIFI 2010-07-07*

Okay, this is more like it. A full belly, warm fire, soft bed, hot water bottle for Pamela’s neck, and NO MOSQUITOS.

We’re at Hacienda Pinsaqui near Otavalo tonight. Pamela’s in bed because her neck’s been hurting, and I’m sitting on a rug by the fire writing this. I’m learning to tend a fire in a fireplace; I’ve never had to deal with real wood in a fireplace before.

arcoirisThis morning, we had breakfast at the Arco Iris Jungle Lodge and departed by motor canoe, to a bittersweet goodbye. On one hand, we’d barely begun to see all of the interesting things in the rainforest. On the other hand, we were tired, dirty, and covered in insect bites (okay, maybe that was just me.) Despite all of the problems with Arco Iris’ facilities, the staff (all five of them, with just the two of us as guests) did their best to take care of us.

From Arco Iris, we traveled by motor canoe back to Coca, then by plane to Quito. At Quito’s airport, a guide named Luis and his 13 year old son Cristian (just along for the ride) picked us up in his car to take us to Otavalo.

During the car ride, we mentioned that we were looking for a new memory card reader since ours had stopped working for some reason, and Luis offered to take us shopping. We ended up stopping at a large, busy, indoor shopping mall. It was a strange experience — the mall looked like a typical American shopping mall, except that most of the signs were in Spanish. Just most, because there were actually quite a few American stores like Hallmark, Victoria’s Secret, McDonald’s, etc. There were also many non-American stores with English names. We eventually found a CompactFlash memory card reader in RadioShack (where else?), and headed back out.

At Otavalo, we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant that Luis had been to before in the downtown market area. I had some sort of chicken and mushroom dish; Pamela had some fish special. I thought my food was pretty good; Pamela said that hers was better. I’ll have to take her word for it.

fireAfter lunch, we completed our journey to Hacienda Pinsaqui, where Luis dropped us off. According to a promotional pamphlet provided to us, the Hacienda was constructed in 1790, and was originally used as a textile workshop. Since then, it’s been host to guests like Simon Bolivar, and well as the site of the signing of the Treaty of Pinsaqui between Columbia and Ecuador. Today, it’s just a nice historic accommodation frequented by travelers.

We only had a bit of time to wander the grounds, which included buildings, plazas with fountains, and gardens, before darkness took hold. We followed the lights back to the main building, then followed music to a side door where we found a group of musicians playing local folk music. We stayed there for a bit and ate some tea and appetizers offered to us. Later, we got dinner in the Hacienda restaurant, and finally settled down for the night.