Today is Princess Day - Jesse's last day at work in OKC before heading back to school in WF. She loves her drafting job and the guys she works with, but she loves her classes at MSU. Anyway, it is back to grandma's house on Monday.
Second Half of Ecuador:
On Thursday morning (Aug 8) a new guide from the Runatupari tour company picked us early to take us to Otavalo to catch a train. Follow that link for some interesting tour info and pics. This company tries to use locals as guides and give you an authentic taste of this part of Ecuador. Our guide was a young man (26 yrs old) from the Otavalo Indigenous folk. His name was David (Spanish pronunciation) and he was beautiful with big brown eyes, long eye-lashes, quiet smile, and a long thick, black braid worn by Otavalo men. He told us he was one of ten brothers with two sisters. His little brother, Flavio (about 8 or 9 yrs old) came too. He was just as beautiful. If the boys in that family were so pretty, what must the girls look like?
This is the view coming into Otavalo. The scene leaving the train station.The train had several older cars that were just pretty fun. It took us from Ibarra to Salinas. The countryside changed dramatically to more of a high dessert area similar to NM. Lots of cacti covered the mountainside - huge agave, prickly pear, yucca, and other cacti. Salinas was a small town tucked into a valley where the land was covered in sugarcane. At one time Salinas had grown cotton, but now everything - even up the mountainsides was sugarcane. Of course there were still citrus trees and avocado trees, etc. The really interesting thing about the valley of Salinas, was that the people were descendants of slaves brought by the Spanish to work the fields. So, 70% of the people were Black or Afro-Ecuadorian (that is an interesting Wiki link). To say that there is poverty in the area is an understatement. But the train brings in a load of folk several times a day that are treated to young dancers showing off their Spanish/African heritage. Then the tourist are taken to a restaurant for a nice meal followed by a tour of an old salt mill. Pretty cool. Our tour continued up the mountain to an old church were these ladies were learning pottery - something to bring money and tourist - a trade. The ladies were not really very good potters, but they were lots of fun. We made some pots with them and giggled and laughed through the language barrier.
We eventually headed to the Santa Agua Chachimbiro where we were to spend the afternoon and night. It was a hotsprings/waterpark. You must follow that link or better yet, Google Image the name for pictures of the hot springs where we stayed. My pics do not do it justice. It was like nothing we had ever seen - and just a little bit weird. The rooms were very nice as was the hospitality, meals, and pools. We had fun. Although the next morning when we wanted coffee, the cafeteria did not open until 8 AM. We went next door to this little place and drank coffee con leche. It was a great adventure.This day just got more fun, but I'll post those pics tomorrow.