Ecuador a “BUENAZA” surprise!

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And suddenly the landscape changed completely. The dryness of the Peruvian coast became exuberance. We crossed the border without problems and Francisca stepped on the Ecuadorian Pan. On the sides of the road there was a parade of huge banana plants. Within 20 km we were stopped three times: papers, fire extinguishers, first aid kit, and finally a drug command. The burly and scowling police regarded us suspiciously… And wanted to take out the roof and see if we had a double bottom booty. A surreal scene. With a knife he intended to disarm the roof that had cost enormously to fix, Catire kept telling  him, “if you take it out, you put it in”. I pictured ourselves behind bars. Luckily he gave up and we drove on.
We arrived to Machala, a port city from where the largest shipments of  bananas in the world leave. We were received by the Romero Recalde family, friends of Loli Andrade from Guayaquil. Loli had written us a long time before. She belongs to a widespread movement in these latitudes called Lazos de Amor Mariano. Medali, mother of three children, skilled embroiderer, shy and loving cooked us a delicious meal of meat, rice and mixed vegetables (vegetable stew) with the best tangerines  we ever tried. The children were so pleased with Manuel her son and her niece Jimena who immediately began to play with Mia and Carmin. Medali seeing that Cala loved making crafts generously gave her her box of yarn, fabric and molds to learn to make cross point. We left early the next day after trying the “tigrillo”, typical breakfast, scrambled green banana that looks like potato with cheese.

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The road to Cuenca enters into the jungle, dense and wet and full of mountains. There were stalls selling bananas from every kind and color. We stopped to buy some he  wanted to sell a whole plant!  we went on  up and down curves and more curves. The road is  impressive. We were always surprised  by each new landscape. In Cuenca we were expected by Diani, also from Lazos de Amor. We changed our summer clothes for  long pants and jacket. It was quite cold. We toured the old town with cobbled streets, the cathedral with blue-tiled domes and houses built on the slopes overlooking one of the four rivers surrounding the city and that give it her name: Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca. We took a terrific ice cream in the corner of the cathedral and Diani invited us to say the rosary with the group of Lazos de Amor Mariano. It was very nice.

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That night, after eating pork and llapingachos (potato pancakes) in the restaurant of Ivan, a very nice Cuenqueño who gave us giant bananas, we went to the house Loli’s family has in the city. It was located in the upper part  and had a very steep access from the road, and although Francisca made several attempts and we did  our best from below, in the last part of the hill the kombi went backwards . Diani’s generous parents who had accompanied us offered a  plan B and we left at dawn to the house of an aunt in another part of the town.

The next day, Diana’s mother took us to visit the natural park of El Cajas, a very nice place, peaceful, between mountains and stone rivers and we went to the Santuario a la Virgen Guardiana de la Fe. It is a place of pilgrimage because twenty years ago  the virgin appeared to Patricia Talbot, then a young woman who worked as a model. The Merchan family, very devoted to the Virgin,  told us the story of Pachi and the appearances. We were very impressed. On the way back we passed by the inn Las Dos Choreras built on the rocks of the mountains and where two small rivers enter and leave the hotel and give it their name. Outside there is a large trout pond, the specialty of the house. The children were ravished.

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On Sunday we went to Mass in the chapel where the Virgin also appeared to Pachi. We were going to talk to her but she could not come and we talked on the phone. She knew of our trip. With a very soft and cheerful voice she promised to pray for us. We said goodbye to the Merchan and followed road. Again ups and downs, curves and more curves. All green, all lush. We arrived to a warm and humid Guayaquil. The contrast was brutal. We were greeted with the big smile of Ana Reyes, a friend of my sister. Two years ago she came to live to this city where Mica was born. The children immediately took up her toys and she looked quite amazed at the chaos that had become her until then quite home. Santiago, great chef, prepared a fantastic cheese fondue and we stayed up late talking like old friends.

On Monday we decided to walk to the nearest shopping to get a local phone chip and sandals for everyone. They were about four blocks that seemed eternal under merciless sun in the scorching morning. We were nomads in the desert. In this residential area nobody walks, all drive air conditioned cars. We were so relieved and happy to reach a shopping with air conditioning. We profited from the pool of Ana neighborhood to counter the heat and after lunch we went to the center.

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We passed the famous iguanas square where instead of pigeons swarm these prehistoric animals, and walked along the Malecon, a very long promenade on the river. That evening we were invited to a meeting of Lazos de Amor to talk about our experience and reasons for traveling. We thought it was going to be a group of 15 people but they were more than a hundred! We met Loli, a guardian angel and her husband who keeps opening doors for us. It was amazing to share the trip with such an audience. In the end they sang a blessing that left us very moved.

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The next day, we had a very funny interview for a magazine. We took pictures on the Malecon and Las Peñas, with colorful houses on a hill, where painters and artists live. We said goodbye to the Lentini-Reyes, this small  simple and adorable family, and we faced the coast for the sea.

Sunny days, friends and more Ecuador. We arrived at Montañita, to visit my aunt (more a cousin than an aunt!)  that we haven´t seen for a long time. Dami welcomed us into her magical hostel, the Mystical Rose, with her three sons. Inside her house full of fresh colors painted by her there is a tree that was born in the kitchen, goes through her room and out of the roof. It says a lot about her. The place is always full of friends, people coming and going, an open house, the kind that we like so much. Dimas made instant friends  (especially Maxi, great surfer). We spent wonderful days in the sea, surfing, mates, lectures, temazcales (!), shrimp, murals from recycled materials, mass at the Shrine of the Rosa Mistica, a church with the best view we know and trips to other beaches (and despite that Cala and Catire got a tropical flu). What a great reunion. We did not want to go. Thanks Dami, we’ll be back !!

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Seguimos subiendo y llegamos a Canoa, otra playa larga y tranquila. Nos quedamos en un hostal vacío sobre el mar. Lujo. El día de mi cumpleaños me desperté y tuve que cerrar los ojos mientras los chicos me guiaban hacia al mar. Gran sorpresa: un desayuno con torta y frutas al borde de las olas. Festejamos en un día azul con baños en un mar tibio, con castillos de caracoles y caminatas en la arena. Un festejo diferente para el recuerdo.

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The road to Santo Domingo goes between rice fields, villages with houses on stilts and brown Amazonian rivers. We were expected by Gaby Ramos, also from Lazos de Amor and the same hospitable and generous spirit. After a breakfast of meat, rice, salad and banana pancakes, we visited the water treatment plant of the family. In Ecuador nobody drinks tap water. How blessed we are  that we can do that at home. The children, curious and amused, with surgeon caps learned all about the plant. We left went armed with water and we faced the route to the capital.

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We entered the jungle and we went to  Mindo a town of butterflies, hummingbirds and cocoa. We went to a place where butterflies are grown and were explained their life cycle, right behind there was a garden full of hummingbirds coming and going reluctant to appear in my pictures. Big chocolate fans, the children took part in a workshop where they were explained how this fruit is grown and could taste different types of cocoa. Very good

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Next stop: the middle of the world! Photo at zero latitude. It was cold The last minutes before closing we stood in this imaginary line that many times we had seen on maps. We arrived at Quito at night and were greeted by the Victorica Gonzalez with a wonderful meal of cutlets and pure which we devoured. It was such a good reunion with friends from life. A house full of children who never stopped playing since we arrived. Pili and Lucho big and generous hosts who did everything to make us feel at home.

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Next stop: the middle of the world! Photo at zero latitude. It was cold The last minutes before closing we stood in this imaginary line that many times we had seen on maps. We arrived at Quito at night and were greeted by the Victorica Gonzalez with a wonderful meal of cutlets and pure which we devoured. It was such a good reunion with friends from life. A house full of children who never stopped playing since we arrived. Pili and Lucho big and generous hosts who did everything to make us feel at home.

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To the delight of the children, the next day all missed school and off to enjoy a sunny day at the club they usually go. We love to sneak in the lives of our hosts and know their everyday life. The club in the mountains is a paradise. The midday heat passed between pools of warm water and talks with friends. We ate delicious Ecuadorian ceviche, empanada de aire and locro very different from our national dish. Fittingly, the scorching sun became a downpour while Dimas and Silvestre played football. That night there were shared baths with stories, bubbles and skating on the wet floor. Better impossible.

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Before leaving there were costumes session. We had to profit from every minute. We left with big hugs, knot in the stomach and a great gift: a Holy Family in wood, so cute and colorful where each member embraces the other. Thanks family!!

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Again between mountains and volcanoes. We stopped at Lake San Pablo, very fresh and we had lunch in Otavalo, large handicraft center, mainly of fabrics and hats. We ate two dollars a menu and follow up where we met Hugo Ibarra and Carolina who own a country hotel. Another family from Lazos de amor that opened its doors. El Rancho de Carolina is in front of the town of Ibarra. Hugo and his wife are great entrepreneurs, who manage the hotel along with a delicious sausage factory. With great confidence, faith and smile on his face, Hugo told us about their projects and dreams. On Sunday we went to church in the neighboring country, a former Jesuit mission that still has buildings and gardens. Catire was invited to make an asado. An Ecuadorian Argentine delicious menu and a shared Sunday with the best company.

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Very early we went to tour the last Ecuadorian kilometers. Before the border we charge fuel, the cheapest in the continent and moved forward with a mixture of sadness and emotion toward the crossing. And so we left Ecuador between sea and surf, green mountains, towns and cities, bananas, and above all, many friends, old and new … Ecuador, small country but “great” as Dimas noted. Yes, it is.

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24 comentarios en “Ecuador a “BUENAZA” surprise!

  1. ¡¡Como contagia este viaje!!!!!! Que ganas de estar ahí! Cada vez que los leo se me sigue poniendo la piel de gallina!!!!
    Manden fotos cuando estén en lo de Manu!
    Beso!!!

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  2. Emocionante el relato, TODO, es una bendición que como familia se hayan lanzado con los chicos.
    Admiración por la fortaleza de cada uno de Uds., a pesar del cansancio, de extrañar, la unidad y el amor a Dios es lo que los mantiene arriba. como diria Santa Maria Micaela “La providencia y tu Fe, mantendran esta casa en pie”, y la providencia esta con Uds., que mejor..
    Vamos!!!!!!! lo lograran, la recompensa esta cerca, fuerza Famillia, desde Chile los encomiendo en mis oraciones, que Dios y María guien su camino!!!
    Un abrazo
    Pau

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  3. Hacía un tiempo que no los leía, y me hice una “panzada” de relatos. Impresiona y me da certeza de este Dios con nosotros, como se les va abriendo el camino a medida del andar. Lo tomo para mi vida también, somos caminantes que sabemos adonde vamos, y las sorpresas se hacen alegría, de encontrarnos con tantos, y en cada lugar formar comunidad. Tenés un lugar en mi corazón! Y uds han ocupado ese lugar en el corazón de muchos. Sigan!!! andando nomás. un beso y abrazo

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  4. Sigo viajando con ustedes y en especial con mi tocayo. Quiero que me cuente él como vienen su experiencia personal. Podrá ser?
    Beso de admiración.
    Dimas Gaviña

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  5. Mis felicitaciones El Señor los sigue acompañando mis oraciones siempre estan con Uds se los ve felicisimos y la alegria que a toda mi familia la tiene encantada para los niños conocimientos de la geografia para toda su vida que grande viaje que la VIRGEN madre nuestra los siga protegiendo mis vendiciones para todos y me despido contentisima que todo va bien hasta pronto Yudy manrique de Ballon

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  6. Noel y Catire !! Impecable relato y las fotos son geniales. Cuanta alegría viven y generan en familia y entre las familias que conocen. No se detengan !! Vamos con ustedes. No veo la hora de conversar con ustedes en Filadelfia. Abrazo grande

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  7. Cuanto disfrute transmiten !!!!.Los relatos son tan inpecables que espero con ansias la llegada del proximo!.En cada foto me parece estar con ustedes. Adelante con los faroles !!! Silvia del Hospital Ezeiza.

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  8. Catire que experiencia mas enriquecedora! Admirable! Disfruto mucho de sus relatos! Ahora a esperar los proximos cuentos!
    Que Dios y Maria los bendigan y sigan guiando!

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