We had a meeting scheduled in Ecuador so we took a few extra days to enjoy the countryside and breath the fresh air. Below are some of the pictures. Top left picture shows where our resort was located on the right side of the San Pablo Lake at the base of the mountain. The top middle picture shows a wild flower the locals call the honey flower because the pedals taste like honey. Notice how each new flower grows right out of the center of the previous flower. Just below that picture is a view of the city of Otavalo. If you look closely at the very bottom right picture, you will see a huge hog hanging from the rafters right along the highway.
Immediately upon arrival in Ecuador, we were taken to Otavalo, about two hours from Quito up in the mountains. We stayed at Cabanas del Lago, a very lovely resort right on San Pablo Lake. It was so peaceful, so quiet, flowers and hummingbirds everywhere with gently rolling, totally green mountains in every direction as a backdrop. It was so heavenly just to sit on our little patio and listen to the waterfall and croaking of the frogs. We had a wonderful dinner in the lodge before retiring for the night, only to be escorted by the maintenance man who started our very own fire in the cabin. We played cards and watched TV until we fell asleep.
The following day, the hotel called for an all day taxi for us to see the sights. Freddy picked us up and took us to Condor Park, Pequche Waterfall, the famous artisans market in Otavalo and around the corner for lunch. Then we drove out to Laguna de Cuicocha, a volcano crater with a lake similar to Crater Lake in Oregon, about 13,000 feet. We even took the little boat ride. All day Joe was able to talk to Freddy about the church, the first vision, purpose of temples and the Book of Mormon.
Pequeche Falls, Otavalo
Freddy then took us to a beautiful area where we hiked for about 20 minutes to beautiful water fall, Peguche, which flows out of the very lake we stayed the night before. It was a beautiful hike along a cobble stoned path. As we approached the falls we could hear roaring power. This placed has some very spiritual significance for the indigenous people of the areas. Peguche Waterfall with its height of 18 meters is considered as a spiritual and ritual site of indigenous people who a few days before the Inti Raymi celebration (sun & harvest celebration held on June 21st) come to the waterfall to take baths in order to prepare themselves spiritually for the Inti Raymi.
Laguna de Quicocha
We loved the country side, winding our way up the mountain at close to 4000 meters or about 13,000 ft. What an incredible place. The name of the volcanic lake is “Cuicocha”the name of the volcano is “Cotacachi”. It is absolutely breath taking. The volcano erupted over 3000 yrs. ago covering the entire with volcanic ash. Through the centuries there were several other eruptions, not for the last 2000 yrs though. The crater filled with water from the rain and ground and is about 500 ft. deep. There are no fish in the lake, however, because of the mineral content of the water. We took a boat ride and were given a glimpse of this massive natural wonder.
Exporting Ecuador RosesRoses from Ecuador are the most sought after flowers in the world, making Ecuador the biggest exporter of roses after the Netherlands. Most of the roses go to the United States and Europe with Valentines and Mother's Day being the biggest days exporting tons of roses. The roses have unique characteristics because they have such long stems and the pedals are so thick and firm. They come in a huge variety of colors. In Ecuador, roses are everywhere. At every restaurant we ate, there were roses on every table . . . not just one but 5-6. There are always huge arrangements on the buffet tables and in the lobbys and even in our room.
The City of Otavalo
We, I, had a meeting with the brethren, AAAs. Diane was so sick and felt so sad she could not attend. I read her sweet testimony she had worked so long and hard to memorize. There was a very sweet spirit that started our meeting right. All were in attendance, Arturo Espinoza, Gustavo Villacrez, Richard Prado, José Intriago, and Carlos Puruncajas. It was a wonderful meeting with these dear brothers. I truly feel they are my close friends. I still struggle to express what I really feel deep in my heart. I hope my love for them is evident because their love for me surely is. We met at the Church Office here in Quito. Quito was the first Area Office of the Church in the South America North Area. The office was then moved to Bogotá Colombia and then to Lima Peru when the area became the South America Northwest area.
We were blessed with the opportunity to meet this wonderful family of Freddy, wife Ruth and their three beautiful children. We had the spent the day with Freddy a few days before. During the day we listened to this man express his testimony of Christ numerous times. Before the day was over we were able to express our feelings about the Church, the restoration, and the Book of Mormon. On Sunday he and his family picked us up at the hotel and drove us to the airport. It's amazing how in a little over an hour the love that can develop between us and people we hardly knew a few days before. Diane sat in the back with the children and the mother even though they couldn't communicate well in either language, their was lots of laughter, hugs, and the language of love. It was even hard to say goodbye. We will follow up with this wonderful little family.
Otavalo Artisans Market