01.04.2010 - 01.04.2010
We got to sleep in today until 6:30am – wow!
We packed up, ate breakfast, and started the journey back. First the dugout canoe across the lake, then the 20 minute hike through the forest, then the 2 hour motorized boat ride up the river, 1 hour for lunch at the Sacha Lodge building in Coca, 5 minute drive to the Coca Airport, 1 hour in the airport, 30 minute flight, and then we were in Quito!
I couldn’t believe how different the Napo River was on this trip compared to the first trip. We had a couple of rains while at Sacha, so all the sandbars and logs were now hidden beneath the surface. Our path was much straighter than before but the driver still magically turned now and then to avoid the invisible sandbars. There were countless logs floating on the river. That is definitely a tough job.
DRIVE TO OTAVALO
A driver met us at the Quito Airport, and it was another 2+ hours to Otavalo. Because of Easter weekend, traffic was pretty thick. We paid $80 for the car and driver one-way.
We went directly to our hotel, the Hacienda Pinsaqui. On the back porch of our room were two peacocks!
The first order of business was getting some laundry done so that we would have clean clothes to wear for the flight home. Laundry was pretty reasonable, and it was done that night even.
The Otavalo outdoor market stays open until 6pm, so by 4pm, we were headed into town . The taxi was $3 one-way.
The market square was full of stalls and salespeople, but very few tourists, as it was late on a Thursday afternoon. It is such a colorful sight! It’s a little hard to get photographs, however, because the stalls are so close together.
We were planning on doing some shopping the next day, so this was mostly a reconnaissance trip, looking at what was available and gauging the prices. We did purchase some cheap “seed” jewelry and a hand knit sweater. They were gifts, but we ended up wearing some of both that evening
The market is a maze of stalls. It is easy to get turned around and to lose companions, so it’s important to designate a meeting place.
We got a small latte from a fast food restaurant on the corner ($1.25). It was actually made from an espresso machine, which I thought was amazing considering they mostly sold hamburgers and fried chicken.
The market shuts down promptly but slowly at 6pm. Our taxi driver, Santiago, was waiting for us at 6:30pm to take us back to the hotel.
The Hacienda Pinsaqui has a welcome cocktail at 7:00pm. Our son was absolutely exhausted, so we set him up with a movie in the room and went down to the bar. We were greeted by a local folkloric band, which was quite lively. The bar is warm and cozy, and many guests were there to enjoy the show.
They first served tea brewed from herbs from the hacienda and empanadas with salsa. Then they came around with the local cane alcohol, which you could drink straight or put in your tea.
The hacienda has been in the same family for 7 generations – 300 years. The lady of the house interrupted the music to give a brief talk about the history of hacienda, which was fascinating.
Dinner was announced at 7:30pm, and the bar emptied out to the dining room. We ate a nice dinner in the very pleasant dining room, and we had dinner delivered to our room for our son, who was quite happy to have a night off.
The Hacienda Pinsaqui is 5-10 minutes north of Otavalo depending on traffic. It was written up in a local magazine as one of the top 5 “classic” haciendas in Ecuador. It is here that Simon Bolivar signed the treaty separating Ecuador from Columbia, creating Ecuador as a separate country.
The hacienda is a bit of maze, but it is fun to explore all the nooks and crannies!
The main building has a couple of nice sitting areas, the dining room for dinner, a small shop, a computer with Internet, an office, a reception office, and a few guest rooms. Guestroom #1 is where Simon Bolivar used to stay.
Out the back door of the main building and down to the left is the bar where they serve a welcome drink with live music daily at 7:00pm. It looks like an old tack room but decorated beautifully and with a warm fire burning. It’s easy to miss if you aren’t looking for it….
Straight out back is a nice garden area with hammocks and a fountain for relaxing or taking a short walk near the horses.
To the right of the main building is a separate building with more guest rooms, the breakfast dining room, a huge sitting area, and a small beautiful chapel.
The rooms are all different and in classic hacienda style. They have extremely high ceilings, unique decorations, and some have fireplaces. Since ours was a triple, we had 2 full bathrooms, one room with a queen bed, and one room with a settee made into a bed. The Simon Bolivar room (#1) had 2 double beds and then a very large separate living room.
At the hacienda, you can go horseback riding and do some hiking in the foothills of the highlands.
It was a bit chilly on the boat ride from Sacha to Coca, so I was happy to be wearing my long sleeve shirt. Then it was hot in Coca, so it was nice to be able to zip off my pant legs.
Otavalo was chilly in the evening, so a light sweater or jacket is nice.
Breakfast was a buffet of scrambled eggs, pancakes, sausage, bacon, potatoes, custom omelets, fruit, granola, cereal, rolls, and juice.
On the river, we were given a box lunch, which most of us ate at the Sacha house in Coca. It had a sandwich with ham, chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayo plus an apple, cookies, and juice. My son was not crazy about the sandwich, so we went next door to the Sacha house in Coca to a restaurant that has a fruit salad bar, smoothies, and ice cream. He had a fruit salad (you pay by the weight, and his very large bowl was $1.74) and a popsicle ($.50). My son got sick the next day, and we think it might have been from the fruit even though everything looked very clean in the restaurant.
For dinner at the Hacienda Pinsaqui, we both started with salads. Mine had field greens with bacon, parmesan, tomatoes, and vinaigrette with passion fruit. My husband’s was an avocado with shrimp and tomatoes on greens. He said it was the “best salad he ever had.” We then split the Steak Pinsaqui as recommend by the waitress. It came with a fresh tomato sauce, mashed potato patty, plantain, and small salad. Good, but not great.