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Mystery Trip Revealed

August 2, 2023

A few months ago, my friend Lori, who runs a travel company called Focused Escapes, announced that she’d be putting together some mystery trips. She promised those of us who took the leap of faith that she’d take us somewhere out of the country we’d never been and her price would include airfare; we would only find out the destination a few days ahead of time.. Because I trust Lori and her attention to detail, I jumped right on it. Soon came a lengthy questionnaire in which I checked off all the places I had been or had upcoming plans to visit, along with queries about activities I liked and hated. Next she asked me to block off some dates in July that would be nailed down once she began working on flights. A few clues followed: I’d be flying during the day (that told me I was going south) and that the flights were short enough that I could comfortably fly coach. She said we wouldn’t need to exchange money or pack plug adapters. A couple of my traveling friends were also going on this trip, so we got our heads together to identify possible places none of us had been to.

Four days ahead of the flight the destination was revealed as Ecuador — which my friends and I had put at the top of our short list of possibilities. Turns out Ecuador is an easy trip from here: 3 ½ hours to Miami, then 4 ¼ to Quito; they use the same kind of plugs we do, plus their currency is the US dollar. Quito sits at an elevation of just under 9000 feet, surrounded by the Ecuadorean Andes.

A short drive away is Pululahua, a dormant volcano.

Ecuador sits right on the equator, and we learned during our visit to the open-air museum Intiñan that the earth bulges out at the equator, meaning it’s not a perfect sphere. At the museum you can test the coriolis effect (water draining from a sink counter clockwise in the southern hemisphere and clockwise in the northern), as well as observe water draining straight down when the vessel is positioned precisely on the equator. A stroll through the grounds takes you past a number of totem replicas from South American countries, including a moai from Easter Island.

Our drive to Otavalo took us through Cayambe, a town famous for its bozcochos, a twice-baked biscotti-like confection eaten topped with cheese and Nutella. Sounds awful, but they were delicious. This is the only place in the country where bozcochos are made.

Carlos is a ninety year-old master weaver who has been plying his craft since he was eight years old. His alpaca scarves and shawls were lovely. Our visit with him was the first of several with craftspeople practicing the old ways.

Down the street, a lady demonstrated dying wool with plants and with a bug that grows on a cactus; the bug, when smashed, creates several rich colors.

This lady makes, plays and sells pipes of all varieties in her little shop.

One Comment
  1. Mary Madden permalink

    Fun adventure

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