As we bumped along kilometer after kilometer of cobblestone road heading from Quito into the more remote highlands near Cotopaxi National Park, I think Jen and I both started wondering, “where in the world….?” But upon arrival at Tierra de Volcan, or “Hacienda el Porvenir”, it was immediately obvious this was worth the wait. There is such history at this hacienda, as there is at many Ecuadorian haciendas. But here, it is not a distant history. The past at El Porvenir is woven carefully into its future, which makes sense when one translates the name… porvenir = “future”. Jorge and Maria have spent the past fifteen years using the old family hacienda as an instrument of ecological and social change in the area around Cotopaxi.
The warm embrace of Porvenir started with our introduction to canelazo, a hot drink made with naranjilla, cinnamon and sugar. We enjoyed this new drink and great conversation with Jorge, Maria and our friends from the Adventure Life office in Quito. But soon we were off to enjoy the newly built high ropes course. (See the post entitled “Permiso Para Cambiar Uno”)
After our exploration at 40 feet above pasture-level, we took a horse-back ride throughout the property, led masterfully by Maria and the hacienda’s main “Chagra”, or cowboy. The pasture was filled with various flowering shrubs and plants, including the Chuquiraga, a plant that looked like its tips were on fire with orange flowers.
While the warmth of El Porvenir was fantastic, and the outdoor experiences were superb, it is the food and the fabulous conversations with Jorge and Maria that I already miss. The steak drizzled in huckleberry sauce (huckleberries grow wild in the pasture - lucky cows) still makes my mouth water remembering it. I am not sure I have ever eaten that well. Each main course is accompanied by family style sides of potatos, vegetables, fruit and bread.
El Porvenir is not fancy by any means. It’s floors creak, its history whispers from the somewhat faded walls, and the cobblestones remind you of their decades of service before you ever arrived. But never in all of my travels have I looked back over my shoulder so longingly after just 24 hours at one accommodation.