Our travels north took us to some of the nicest places. We were welcomed and spoiled almost everywhere we went.
We rolled into Ecuador after navigating our way through the border crossing. Immediately the typical dusty grey cement houses of Peru were replaced by the pretty painted flower-bedecked cement houses of Ecuador. Desert was replaced by greenery. Birds sang.
Our iOverlander app on our phone suggested Kaluz Hosteria and Spa might be a good stop. Was it ever! The manager, Diego, was in the business of promoting Ecuador’s tourism industry. A few weeks ago he quit his stressful job and took over the management of this beautiful small resort located a few miles off the highway, in tranquil farmlands. It was clean, relaxing and the swimming pool had Jacuzzi jets and a a waterfall.
Diego is a good cook, and really into the local fruits, so he kept us supplied with fruit drinks and hot chocolate made from Ecuadorian chocolate paste. We are not sure why we didn’t just move in.
A frustrating long drive through the valleys and up and across spectacular 13,000 foot mountaintops took us to Tigua.
This is a trekking area and the most popular route is a 3 or 4 day hike around the crater lake of Laguna Quilotoa. We planned to stay at the Posada de Tigua, a small working farm that caters to trekkers from all over the world, providing rooms and excellent meals using local products, especially cheese and yoghurt. Their signage was terrible and we took the wrong road. This road was suitable for mules, with treacherous drop offs, and no place to turn around. A couple of local kids at a small farm flagged us down and gave us directions.. The locals laughed and waved as we retraced our path. We arrived just at dark to a sprawling hacienda with geese in the yard. The owner welcomed us warmly until he saw Capi. He explained his two dogs would attack our dog and we were welcome but the dog could not stay. Nancy looked so aghast and lost that he relented, allowing us to camp in the farmyard as long as we kept Capi in the camper. The owner’s dogs were a rollicking young St. Bernard called Benjamin, and a bull terrier type aptly named Scrappy. They immediately settled in outside our door. In order for Capi to visit the bushes, we had to lure the dogs away from our truck, not difficult, as the dogs were really sociable. Nevertheless, Capi spent a nervous night.
In the morning, although we had arranged for breakfast, it was not offered. Instead, the owner extended his hand and warmly said “Adios”.
We had planned to visit the crater, but the altitude was giving us headaches and we were hungry and discouraged, so we decided to head up the highway.
We had stayed at Finca Sommerwind before. Run by a friendly German couple, the Sommerwind is well known to overlanders as a place to relax, store campers for short and long periods, and to get things fixed. The first thing that needed fixing was Capi. She was due for her annual shots, and needed a vet’s certificate of health to get her across the border into Colombia. Patricia, our hostess, drove us to their vet in Ibarra. The vet set Capi up with a “pet passport” and all the documents needed to continue.
On the second night Hans and Patricia had a barbeque for the campers and some neighbours. The group seemed to be aviation oriented: out of about 25 or so guests there were two pilots from the Netherlands, an AME/glider pilot from Sudbury and us. And a couple from New Brunswick who loved dogs. It was a good party, a good way to celebrate our last night in Ecuador.