Thursday, January 29, 2015
Otavalo is famous for its market and I can see why! Blocks of wares of all kinds are for sale. You can find fruits and vegetables, meat with whole pigs hanging ready to cut, spices of all kinds, many types of potatoes which are a staple of Ecuadorian cuisine, colorful textiles which the area is famous for, toys, clothing...everything! And the price is right!
Wednesday, January 28, 2015
We travelled around the areas of Otavalo and Cotacachi to meet local people, see the beautiful mountains and lakes and spend some time in the town.
Monday, January 26, 2015
Hacienda Cusin is a restored 17th century estate at 8500 feet in the Ecuadorian Sierra region of the Andes. The prominent Luna family purchased it at auction from Philip III, King of Spain in 1602. The purchased estate comprised of about 100,000 acres held until the Land Reforms of 1945 and 1964.
The main house, other buildings and gardens are charming. The area is surrounded by mountains and amazing vistas. It is very close to the market town of Otavalo and Lago San Pedro, the biggest lake in Ecuador. There are dormant volcanoes in the area and other interesting sites to see. More about them in later posts!
Galo Plaza Lasso showcased his technologies at Hacienda Zuleta, using Holstein cows, systematic seed selection and tractors, making it his flagship. He was a bullfighter, diplomat and ex- president of Ecuador. In the 1950's he gave up almost half his 250,000 acres by giving all his workers land to build a house and farm as well as each got a cow. Land Reform law did not come until 1964, when the law stated that all hacienda owners had to give land to each worker. Galo was way ahead of his time!
We drove for 45 minutes and saw great farmland that was once part of Hacienda Zuleta!
In the late 16th century, King Felipe II bequeathed the Zuleta region to the Jesuits, who implemented their Spanish methods of farming and cattle and sheep raising, drastically changing the Ecuadorian culture of farming. In 1713, under the direction of King Filipe V, the property was confiscated and transferred to Canon Gabriel Zuleta. Upon his death, the farm passed to the Posse family, who were inspired to bring the hacienda back to its 17th century grandeur.
The original inhabitants date back to 800 AD until the arrival of the warring Incas in the late 1470's. Within the ground are 130 Caranqui Mounds dating 1200 AD. By 1534 the last Incan king had been captured and assassinated by the Spanish Conquistador, Pizarro, leaving the Inca empire in collapse and allowing a free for all for the land-hungry vassals of the Spanish crown.
It wasn't until the farm was sold to Jose Maria Lasso in 1898 and passed through two more generations to Galo Plaza Lasso, the ex-president of Ecuador, that Zuleta recaptured its original prosperity as a productive farm. Galo was the first to bring Holstein cows, systematic seed selection and tractors to Ecuador.
In recent years, the historic doors of this amazing hacienda have been open to tourists seeking unmatched hospitality, great food, historic setting, hiking, horseback riding all in the magnificence of the Andes.
We had an amazing visit and loved every minute of it. Below are some photos taking in and around the hacienda and its environs.
Thursday, January 22, 2015
Deep in the heart of the Panamanian rainforest lies the completely unique Gamboa Rainforest Resort in the in the former Canal Zone. It is a beautiful building complex with gorgeous plantings and a wonderful staff. They offer several free excursions into the rainforest.
We also went on a motorboat ride in the Panama Canal and later an aerial tram ride over the canopy of the rainforest. We saw howler monkeys and two other monkey species, parrots and toucans, other birds and crocodiles.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
The drive from Panama City to our next destination took over two hours. We drove north toward the Caribbean Sea into an exceptional enclave of Portobelo Bay. I took lots of pictures on the way which show life as it is in Panama.