Newsletter | Nov/Dec 2003

Ecuador Trip
by Mui Ho

Ten of us just returned from our delightful Ecuador trip organized by Gilda Puente-Peters and Marda Stothers. The pace of this trip was leisurely fluid and we managed to covered quite a bit. Gilda had arranged for us to stay at interesting places like old colonial mansions or Haciendas made into boutique hotels. In Quito we stayed at Hostel Santa Barbara and Hotel La Rabida - both have beautifully furnished public parlors and courtyards.

Ecuador is very mountainous with deep gorges, waterfalls and volcanoes. What impressed me most was how people built their houses and farms on steep slopes. In Quito, most housing is built on hillsides with wonderful views and the Indian farmers farm their land on a 45 degree slope.

One of the highlights of our trip was the visit to Marcello's ranch. Marcello is an old friend of Gilda's. He left his architectural practice to become a gentleman rancher. He has cows to produce milk and green houses to produce roses. To our surprise, he ships his roses weekly to Russia via Amsterdam. To get to his ranch was quite an experience. We had to drive on a narrow rugged twisty dirt road for miles. It did cross our mind that we might not get there! But we did and it was worth every penny of it, because the hacienda was quite special. I particularly loved the forlorn garden with lovely untended trees and flowers - very romantic as if I had walked into another century.

Another highlight for me was meeting Gilda's family and friends and spending time with them. They showed me how close families and friends are in Ecuador. It made all of us very envious. Everyone we met on our trip was kind, warm and gentle.

The group will be presenting their Ecuador trip in our coming September Retreat.

Here we are above with our guide Carlos and driver Pablo. We had a new tour bus with 20 seats for most of our trip - very clean and roomy.

Summer Solstice ceremony at the Ethnographic Museum.

We spent an afternoon at Marcello's rose farm and family hacienda. Marcello, a friend of Gilda's and also an architect, started his rose business less than 10 years ago. All the roses are grown year round inside greenhouses. The high altitude, the temperature and the amount of sunshine in this part of Ecuador seems to work beautifully with roses. Marcello packs his long stem roses in boxes of twenties and ships them to Europe and Russia weekly. It takes two weeks of travel for the roses to reach the retailer. We were all fascinated by his new endeavor.

Lake Quilotoa

As we arrived at Lake Quilotoa, the snow started to come down quite heavily. It was cold and grey. At the viewing platform, local Indians spread out their crafts to show us. They were mostly small paintings on sheep's skin. These paintings are very colorful and the scenes depict their dreams, beliefs and daily activities. This cottage industry to our surprise turns out to be a rather new tradition, about 25 years old. Never the less the paintings were wonderful and beautiful.