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Resident llamas at Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

My friends, Hank and Marie Groff, escaped their responsibilities in Costa Rica and flew to Ecuador this past week.  After two days and nights in the cosmopolitan city of Quito, we journeyed along the line of the equator to the oldest hacienda in the country.  Hacienda Guachala stole my heart years ago, and I was pleased to return with my friends.

The old chapel, built in 1580 on an ancient Incan temple, invites one to ponder what ghosts might still linger in the shadows.

One’s imagination easily wanders in these fairy-tale gardens, where one wonders what surprise awaits around the next bend.

Early Morning at Hacienda Guachala – Cayambe, Ecuador

One would expect to see the Easter Bunny scouting for locations to hide the golden egg!

The travel website, Let’s Be Wild, marches into its third week of outdoor photo challenges.  This week’s challenge is “Escape,”and with cuffs rolled back, I am delighted to share images of a real-life escape in progress here in Ecuador.   Join me as I review the photos taken at latitude zero with my friends Hank & Marie!

Diego Bonifaz shares the colorful story of his life, which brought him full circle from Ecuador to France, the USA, then back to the hacienda.

Cafe con leche anyone?

The resident cat, tutored in hospitality skills, extended warm greetings at each meal!

One morning, after enjoying a leisurely breakfast, we prepared for a tour of a nearby rose farm and processing facility. Manuel, an employee of Hacienda Guachala, offered to show us the area!

Manuel, happy and ready for tour-guide responsibilities!

With no pre-arranged appointment, Eduardo Jurados of Sunrite graciously gave us an amazing tour!

Roses must clear many hurdles before exported to your nearby florist.

Meticulously packaged, the roses advance to the next step.

Brrrrr: preparing for transfer to cold storage in the next room!

A feast of color for the eyes!

Trading contact information, we said, ‘Goodbye,” to Xavier then drove a few miles to a quinoa farm.   An alley of ancient eucalyptus trees guided us to the nearby farm.

Stately eucalyptus trees flank the roadside.

Quinoa country!

Quinoa, anyone?

How’s this for fresh?

Cool blue agapanthus.

The next stop was the line of the equator.

One foot in the northern hemisphere; one foot in the southern one!

Solstice and equinox points line up with geographical points.

One can see the north star and the southern cross from this vantage point at the middle of the world!

Meanwhile back at the hacienda…where IS that silly rabbit?

While the tourists are away, the animals will play!

An Easter Bunny Sighting!


Inquiring minds want to know… what species is this?

One never tires from watching hummingbirds.

An escape to Hacienda Guachala comforts the senses.

After a half-hour break to recharge our camera batteries as well as our physical ones, we drove the half hour to Otavalo for a total immersion in color!

The explosive colors of Otavalo!

Who doesn’t enjoy a quick escape in a hammock?!

Do you think she looks forward to going to work each day?

Sunset escorts us ‘home,’ and a chill replaces the sun’s warmth; we anticipate the solace of the hacienda.

A pastel sunset escorted us back to the hacienda, where French onion soup chased the chill from our bodies, and a fresh fire warmed the hearth of each bedroom.

There’s something magical about a warm fire on a cold night!

Ah, yes, one should escape every so often and renew the spirit and soul!

(Photo by Marie Groff) Thanks, Marie!

(Coming soon: the next chapter of the escape!)  Z