The countdown is on and I’m starting to feel the pressure. If Rod counts down the days until we leave one more time I’m going to scream. There is still so much to do and even though I have been whittling away at it daily, my lists seem to be growing instead of shrinking.
I ended up breaking my list of To Do’s down into four weeks and I am now working on week two. I have concentrated a lot of effort into working with TerraDiversa, the tour company that we have chosen. We have been fine tuning the itinerary and last week I was actually able to talk with the Managing Director of the TerraDiversa via Skype (what a great invention). Together we worked out a plan that we thought would be suitable for our needs and then Juan our tour coordinator put together the first draft of our itinerary and emailed it to me. I then forwarded it to my Mother for her input. Once we agreed on the itinerary our tour planner worked up a more formal plan with prices and once again emailed it to me for our approval.
One thing we did find out is that a big celebration called “Carnival” will be going on for part of the time that we will be in Ecuador. Carnival is celebrated with parades and abundant water throwing, not to mention the occasional egg or box of flour. In light of this big celebration we ended up changing some of our original plans. It is really imperative to book our hotels asap because a lot of people come to visit Ecuador during Carnival.
|Water Fight During Carnival|
We fly into Quito on the 9th, and stay at the Fuente de Piedra. We didn’t originally plan to stay in Quito for more than one night, but Juan has convinced us to stay for a total of two nights because there is so much to do and see. The first night we get in so late you can’t even really count that. We will have a driver in Quito to show us the hi lights and frankly I’m glad to have a couple of days to adjust to the altitude and recover from the fast and furious previous weeks of planning. At this time I’m not sure what we will be seeing in Quito, but I do know there is a lot of history and beautiful architecture. There are also a lot of art galleries and since my mother works in an art gallery I know she will enjoy viewing other styles of art.
On February 11th we will head towards Otavalo, famous for its textile markets. We will spend two nights at the Dona Esther. Our plan is to take a little side trip to the Cuicocha lake which lies at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano. We will also visit the town of Cotacachi for a real estate tour as well as the wonderful leather market that we have read so much about.
Textiles at Otovalo Market
Lake at Cotacachi
On the 13th we are off to Banos heading south on the Pan-American highway which follows a beautiful valley of lush farmland flanked on either side by a dozen volcanoes. Cotopaxi is the greatest of them and is the centerpiece of the Cotopaxi park.
The 16th finds us back on the road and heading towards our final destination of Cuenca. The city of Cuenca will serve as our home base for the remainder of the trip. We will be staying here the longest as this is where we want to concentrate our efforts in our search for a second home and/or retirement spot. We will be staying at the Casa Ordonez while in Cuenca. We have read great reviews about this hotel and are anxious to see if it lives up to its reputation.
Catedral de la Inmaculada
Once we get settled in Cuenca we plan to take a tour of the city and familiarize ourselves with our new stomping grounds. We will organize a real estate tour of Cuenca itself and then take a trip to the country side and the Yungilla Valley and view some more properties. Juan has recommended that we relax in the Banos Hot Springs at the Piedra De Agua spa (Oh darn another spa treatment).
Some of the other things we plan to do while staying in Cuenca is to tour the craft making villages of Gualaceo and Chordeleg. Of course we can’t wait to visit the cathedrals, markets, museums and view the Colonial architecture while in town.
Kitty Goes To Market
Church in Chordeleg
On the 23rd we catch a flight back from Cuenca to Quito and spend the night in Quito before we fly out the next day and head home bringing a close to our long anticipated Ecuador trip.
Now stay tuned as we get closer to the real deal......