We had a racecar wannabe bus driver on our way to Lago Agrio. His strategy was to drive like mad until you reach a speed bump, slow quickly, bounce over the speed bump, and then floor it again. Always use both lanes to drive around corners and pass into traffic because they will slow down. By the time we arrived in Lago Agrio in a record time of only one hour and 45 minutes, I felt sick to my stomach.
Luckily I had the flight to recuperate on and by the time we got back to Quito, Valerie was waiting for us and we headed right out of Quito. We had a lot of time to see the view from the Pan American highway and learn more about Ecuador. Oil, roses, and tourism are the three big money makers in Ecuador, and there are had a lot of rose farms in this area. Limestone caves dotted the sides of the roads. People come and dig out the limestone and use it to brush on their houses. It keeps the houses fresh-looking, warm, and helps to keep out yellow fever.
We stopped at a shop that made Bizcochos, twice-baked sponge cakes that taste a little like pie crust. They were tasty warm and would be good with jam. The locals eat them with cheese. I learned that guinea pig is the most traditional food in Ecuador and think I should try it, even though I am not an adventurous eater.
We stopped in Cotacachi, a town that won a prize from Unesco because every person in the community learned to read and write. I think that is so great! Visited some stores in the leather market. Found a gorgeous purse in a store that was closed. Rats.
We arrive at white washed Hacienda Pinsaqui and are warmly greeted, Valerie is so excited when she sees what room we are put in, and when we enter, I see why. The room is two rooms and a giant bathroom with a claw foot tub. The first thing we decided to do was unpack all of our soggy clothes and hang them around the room to dry. We even unpacked those we didn’t wear, because they were soggy but at least not soaked. Heading outside, we wandered the grounds to enjoy the view and peacefulness. Heading back in we stopped for a welcome/orientation to the Hacienda and drank the most wonderful tasting hot tea made with cinnamon and anise. We are told, “This house is your house” and they really made us feel that way. At dinner I had prawns sugared in liquor – fantastic. We headed back to our room and were welcomed with a fire crackling in the fireplace, our quilt folded down, a hot water bottle with a soft flannel cover tucked in under the covers, and a chocolate on each pillow. We wondered what they thought of us, with our clothes draped all over the room looking like there had been an explosion. The hot water bottle kept our feet warm almost the whole night, and we needed it.