Thursday, March 29 was a huge day. But we got all the Rotary and El Parvulario stuff done and have spent most of the rest of the time enjoying the culture and the sights.
On Friday morning, March 30, my hosts, John and Fanny Eugenia Platt and I drove out of Quito about 8 am for the Imbabura Province. Imbabura is named for the volcano that is its most prominent landmark. It’s about 75 kilometers north of Quito toward Columbia.
It took a good hour to get out of Quito. Quito is a big city, perhaps 2 million people. And like many very old cities (think Boston) there are few straight roads between two points. Add to this it’s built on hills–big hills. Parts of the city are 1500 feet below other parts and driving is a challenge.
Finally we reached a lovely new highway to our destination, the village of Cotacachi. Cotacachi is named for another volcano. If you are getting the sense there are a lot of volcanos in Ecuador you would be right. Some of them tower more than 20,000 feet, classic cone shaped, are snow covered, and a half dozen or so are still active. Others are just soaring hills topped by big rock cones. In my five trips here I’ve only caught tantalizing glimpses of the big volcanos as they are almost always shrouded in clouds.
We were guests of another of the sainted ladies that make sure the children of El Parvulario receive an education, Diana and her husband Luis. They are residents of Quito but have a lovely home on three acres in Cotacachi. Luis was the first petroleum engineer in Ecuador. The grounds are beautiful with perhaps hundred various fruit trees and hundreds of different kinds of flowers and flowering bushes. Since the weather hardly ever changes and the sun is the same every day, everything blooms and produces year around.
Naturally, it was time for lunch or almuertzo, the big meal of the day. We had a superb cervichi followed by Green Ball soup, which is made from plantains and includes a number of vegetables and a little beef. Dessert was peaches. The meal was accompanied by a German wine. The hospitality Ecuadorian give to visitors is wonderful and Diana and Luis were no exception.
Then is was off to Otavalo. Otavalo is an artisan village where the indiginous people bring their handicrafts to sell. These are not little trinkets but wonderful woven goods. In past years I have brought back scarves that were very popular. So this time I bought around 50 of them. I intend to give them to the Boise Rotary Club to sell with the idea that the proceeds will be used to supplement our budget for international projects. They will make superb Mother’s Day gifts, so guys get out your wallets. Of course the ladies will be welcome to purchase them for themselves as well.
Buying things in Ecuador is fun because the prices are always negotiated. Fortunately I had Fanny Eugenia and Diana to do the selection and the negotiations. My friend John and I sat on little stools and watched with glee as these professional shoppers made the selections and then argued over the price for five or ten minutes. I have pictures of the shopping experience which I will bring back to show my Rotary colleagues. Unfortunately I can’t get them from my camera to the computer I am using so I can’t include them with this blog.
That’s it for now. It’s Monday morning. I have lots more to describe, but it will have to wait. Jonathan Ordoñez who lived with our family as a Rotary exchange student and his parents are picking me up in a few minutes. Marty Cullen’s daugher, Maddie will join us for lunch and and afternoon of friendship and conversation.