Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Joys of Having a Babysitter

About two weeks ago we were walking to and fro in our neighborhood and we kept seeing the same family trio:  mother, older daughter and younger daughter.  We eventually got around to introducing ourselves since it was apparent that we lived in the same neighborhood.  As we were leaving the older daughter, Sage, offered to babysit.  You don't have to ask us twice!

We set up a horseback riding tour with Terra Diversa and we were so happy with our adventure.  For $60 per person they will pick you up at your house, drive you to the hacienda in Tarqui, take you on a three hour riding tour, feed you lunch and take you home again.  Carlos and Cecelia were great guides.  The horses were perfect:  well-cared for, even-tempered, and so sweet.  AND sure-footed.  That was a very important quality for this kind of ride as it was probably the most grueling ride I have ever been on.  We went off trail on all kinds of terrain:  grassy bottoms, volcanic sand, red rock, gray rock, paramo and scrub.  All of it was beautiful.  We climbed up to 10,000 ft. and then we went up and then down and then up and then down again.  We did a lot of trotting and loping and sometimes a full-out gallop.  The horses would charge up a hill and I would hear Mark giggling behind me.  It was a blast.  The weather went in and out all day.  It was bright and dry when we got there, but then it started drizzling.  Then the sun would come out and warm everything up and then it would drizzle again.  It was perfect riding weather. 

If you are planning a trip to Cuenca you should go on this ride.  And if you are looking for a riding partner give me a call.  I would join you in a split second.  Here are some pictures of the mountains, the country-side and the beautiful horses:

The horses see and hear us coming.

Cute little pup.

Getting their sugar fix.

My two favorites: two year old half-brother colts. 

And we're off!

The best kind of trail.  I loved it!

10,000 ft.

Mark looks like a pro.

Isn't is stunning?

Our horses had to be resaddled because of all the loping we were doing.

Heading into the scub and vegetation.

Just gorgeous.

Carlos and I ran our horses up this hill, but Mark chose to take it a bit slower.

Nothing like a good roll after a long ride.

I just love this guy.

Lickng off the salt.  Yum.

We might have a chance at some land that is in that valley in the far distance. 

The view from the front porch of the hacienda.  Just amazing.

The hacienda.

It is Sunday now and Mark and I both woke up extremely sore from the neck all the way down, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Cajas!

I came home from walking Scout this morning (gorgeous by the way) and Mark said, Let's go to the Cajas!  So we did.  We decided for our first trip to take it easy and to go somewhere we had heard of.  We headed to Dos Chorreras, which is a really nice hosteria in the Cajas.  It is much colder in the Cajas so we all brought hats and our warm winter coats.  Next time we will wear long underwear underneath our jeans.  It was pretty cold.

On the walk up to the hosteria we met this very friendly little deer.  She came up to the fence and we were able to touch her on the nose and let her sniff us.  Unfortunately, as I was helping Tali to step over the quickly rushing stream below us I put my whole foot in it.  We hadn't even started hiking yet and my foot was soaked. :(

This is a little chapel on the way up.

View back down the mountains towards Cuenca.  Truly beautiful.

Dos Chorreras:

The inside of the hosteria:

Mark liked this little bar.

Some of the rooms are on this floor as well as below and above.  They all have great views down the valley.

View from one of the bedrooms:

Gift shop:

Dining room:  We ate lunch here.

This huge tree was growing right into the restaurant.  I love how they built the glass wall around the rock and tree.

Banquet room upstairs.

Cabana outside.  I don't know how much lounging gets done out here.  It was freezing! 

Looking towards the back end.  There is a horse trail leading up into the mountains.  That's where we headed for our hike.

Those two horses came running down the hill.  It costs only $6 for a 30 minute ride.  Mark and I are thinking about getting a babysitter and heading up there this week.

I have my horse moments and Mark has his:

Still checking out the motorcycles:

Rainbow trout:

Looking back from our hike towards Dos Chorreras:

Uncle Chris, this is for you.

After a cold hike there is nothing better than a small glass of Canelazo.
It is a fruit drink with rum and cinnamon and some other stuff.  Served hot.
I also had a glass of hot mulled wine with a sugar rim.  Delicious!

After lunch we headed down the road to fish for rainbow trout.  For $1 each you can fish all you want.  They will then fry up the fish for you for dinner if you choose.

The indigenous woman next to Tali caught 6 fish while we were there. Tali, zero.  :(  She must have the touch.

Success!!!  He was so happy and proud of himself.

We had a great time today.  After fishing we stood on the side of the road waiting for a bus we hoped would come.  We had been waiting for 20 minutes and it was 4:35.  A young man told Mark the bus would come at 5:30.  We still had an hour to go and we were starting to get chilled.  A young couple with a little girl asked us if we were going to Cuenca, and when we said yes invited us to hop in and they would take us home.  (Dad, I know you will freak out about this, but it is just different here.)  They drove us all the way home (about 30 min.) and wouldn't take a cent.  Most people here are just like this.  It is kind of hard to get used to, this giving, open nature of the people here. 

I am still chilled as I sit here typing this even after a shower and a cup of tea, so I think I will say good night and go climb into my bed with the heated mattress pad.  Night!