Carnaval in Pachijal

By:  Tamara De Karolys – Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

Early Sunday morning we leave with my pickup Quito with the kids and start the 3 hour drive to our tiny, yet beautiful hide-away in Pachijal, where I share a wooden cottage with my dear friend Maria Cecilia; every now and then, when we can enjoy a long weekend, I take my family – that are 2 teenage kids and  my husband to leave the city to seek relaxation and peace in nature – there is no better place than the rainforest to me – spending some hours in the middle of vast “ Green´ness” is a mixture of an adventure – & spiritual peace-escape.

There are not too many cars on the road, we arrive after 3 hours; I have not come for over a year…and as soon as I get to there, I ask myself why it took me so long to return; the house is in very good shape, all is in place and quickly we make ourselves comfortable; the kitchen is perfectly equipped, lunch is ready soon, followed by a lazy afternoon.

We enjoy the view from our terrace and listen to the incredible sounds of wildlife…it is unbelievable how loud the concert from all kinds of insects can become. Peace. Calmness. Relaxation.

At night time our main concern is to keep our food clean from hundreds of small to really big flying creatures…no electricity, but candles; stories, comments, jokes and loads of laughter, this is what I call quality time with my dearest ones.

We enjoy walks through the forest, swimming in the nearby waterfalls, motorbike rides, Ceviche de Palmito and many hours of peace!

I promise to myself to come more often – the place is unique, it is close by, it is in the middle of pure nature, it is a priviledge.

Peru an Intense Discovery

By: Carolina Alban – Metropolitan Touring Ecuador

When I first read “Peru, and intense Discovery” I really didn’t understand well; but know that I have been there I know what it means.  Every time you go to a place there is something new to see, smell, taste or feel; your 5 senses are developed here.

My first experience was a brief look at the city of Lima; I can tell you it is really nothing as I expected it.  It is a nice, clean city, with a great highway in front of the sea that is just being built; like any other modern city in the world.
In Lima, we had the chance to visit the Larco Herrera Musuem; it is with no doubt the best one we visited in Perú. The Pre Incas History it tells you through the arts and crafts found there is amazing.  It gives you a clear view of why the Incas where such an important civilization, and how they became the Empire we all know.  If you are in Lima and have the time stop by; and if you are lucky as I was, you will have Mariana (Public Relations Manager) guide you and transmit you her love for her work and her museum.

On the second morning of our trip we woke up very early to take a one and a half hour flight to Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city. Here we were greeted by Daniel, the best guide we had during the trip; he made things so interesting that the whole group was always around him.  Arequipa, in a Cultural Heritage of the World, and you understand why, when you see the Colonial downtown it has.  We were able to visit Saint Catharine’s Convent, which has been a cloister convent since the 17th century.  It is a city inside the city, where the nuns used to live and never left.  When the guide began to explain there ways of living I had a cultural shock, and thought I could never accept many of the thing they did; but then, I understood that it was another time and I had to put myself in the past to accept it.

After another early wake up call we left Arequipa and headed to the Colca Cañon.   It was a three hours drive approximately; but the scenery was so nice that it didn’t feel so long.  On the road you are able to see Alpacas, Llamas and Vicuñas, at first I couldn’t recognize which was which, but after a while and a good explanation from Daniel, I had a better idea. During the trip we passed through 5000 meters above sea level, it was very tiring, but the Coca tea made it much easier.

The arrival at “Casitas del Colca Lodge” made all the ride worth while.  It is a magnificent hotel located right besides the river.  The rooms are huge and fancy, but the best part here was the private hot tub they each have.  It was a great way to relax after a long and day.  The food here was also superb, I tried a Llama Carpaccio, something I wouldn’t be able to eat any where else in the world… Delicious!!

Early next morning we left paradise and went to the Condor’s Cross, a perfect place to see Condors flying very close to you.  It was only around one hour away from the lodge, and during the trip you could see the terraces built in the mountains for agriculture.  At our arrival we were greeted by two condors flying right on top of the mountain, they were so close, that with the zoom of the camera I had a clear view of them.  Then after waiting for thirty minutes or so we were able to see one flying from the bottom of the Canyon to the top of the mountain… and we weren’t lucky enough to see them only a few meters away as other people do.

I still have a bit more to say about Peru, but I will continue the story in a close future!