September 20, 2010

Day 2.2: I'm Riiiiiiiding In The Rain

Each day we ride, Gaspar and Tostado lead the way.  Then myself, mum, and Anna fall in line behind.  Bringing up the rear is Christian, a chagra (Andean cowboy), riding a bright dun Criollo/Columbian Paso cross who gaits along smoothly.  This afternoon, we are only doing a short loop of a couple of hours so everyone can get to know their horses.  After lining up five horses to cross the PanAm Highway (holy logging trucks, batman!), I follow Tostado as we climb up cobblestone streets into a village, heading for the slopes of Imbabura.

We picnic in a eucalypt grove around 3,000 meters high after picking our way through the fields and huts of the village. The horses catch a nap as we toss our chicken bones to the hungry dogs who miraculously turn up at the unpacking of saddle bags.

Here, Gaspar and Christian are readying a scrumptious lunch while we have just discovered the tasty treat that is salty banana chips. In the US, our banana chips are tough and sweet; these are much more resemblant (is that a word?) of potato chips!  After lunch though, a sudden freezing cold rain blows in and we discover a new miracle in the saddlebags -- giant ponchos!  Little Capuli would rather turn his tail to the wind and wait out the storm, but we must get down off the mountain before the mud becomes too slick for the horses.  Luckily, it's a short journey back to Hacienda Pinsaqui and warm drinks!

After a hot shower, I wander out behind the main building to explore the acres of garden paths.  It comes with its own baby llamas!!!

Just say awwwww! The gardens themselves were lovely, full of unique blooms. Ecuador, with its equatorial climate, is big business for commercial flower companies. Huge greenhouses are everywhere because apparently, flowers will bloom all year 'round here, which then can be shipped all over the world. Here's a funky datura, who has a hallucinogenic aroma (I tested it, but I was apparently immune. Maybe I should have stood there longer.).

There were lots of other lovely things to look at in the fading light.

As the clouds crept up the volcano Cotacachi, the light disappeared and it was time to make my way to the evening reception. There was a bar hidden in a cellar, bedecked with horse show ribbons (the hacienda's owner was a successful breeder of Arabians and jumping horses). We chased the chill away with a welcome drink made of sugar cane and cinnamon steeped for a day, then topped off with sugar cane liquor. That was followed by a shot of anise liquor that made my entire body tingle all the way to my fingertips. So it must be good.

Then, a group of musicians entertained us with the traditional music of the Andean highlands. It had a unique, wild, and joyful flavour to it, even though I didn't understand what the songs were about (damn my pathetic Spanish). Note the young boy who is deeply intent on shaking that rhythm egg JUST RIGHT.

By this point, I was liquor-warm and dog-tired. After a beautiful pork fritata, I managed to slither under my (400) blankets (old houses are freezing!) with my new bestest friend: Mr. Hot Water Bottle who awaited me faithfully with his foot-warming goodness. Tomorrow: we would cross Imbabura to the Zuleta valley!


  1. I love the little egg boy. Your pictures are beautiful a second time.

  2. And I didn't even pay her to say that! Thanks, lh!

  3. OK, now you are responsible for my desire to own a baby llama. On your head may it lie!

  4. I'm sure there are llamas in Miami SOMEwhere!

  5. Lol. The first time I read this post, I didn't get it. Then I was browsing through my feed and my brain sang the title of your post to the appropriate music, and I got it.

    Gotta love the subconscious.

    GREAT pictures! Cute little horse you had there, too. How's Solo doing?

  6. Hahahhaha, mm, thanks! Solo is doing ok -- coming back into work to get ready for our busy October! Having some saddle issues right now, blech!