Thursday, March 31, 2011

Palos y Piedras

On our trip to Baños we had met an American guy in Riobamba who lives in Cuenca. He told us to call him when we got back there to see his home. As if his sweet ride weren't enough (a touring truck called a chiva) to get the kids jumping up and down to visit, he said he has a pond with a paddle boat. Sold!

Don't work so hard, Lewis
Lewis is a Yank with an Ecuadorian mother (whom he was visiting in her hometown of Riobamba). He and his wife Dotty have lived here 30 years or so and have owned their little piece of paradise for over 20 of those years.
Dotty - A portrait of class

the chiva
So Lewis says he'll meet us at the end of the bus line that goes to their neck (or shoulder, really-- and why not? why does the neck always have to own all the places in the world?) of Cuenca. Of course he shows up in the chiva that we met him in in Riobamba, so whatever the kids might have been wondering about what we were doing or where we were going was moot; we were going to ride in a bus with no doors!

All lower rooms are open to the central courtyard

course if that were the end of the kid fun it would have been either a short visit or an annoying one with kids rolling their eyes and acting out a slow death by boredom. Upon arriving, however, we grownups were treated to a tour of their true, old Spanish hacienda, which, besides being cleaned up and somewhat repurposed (in the old days the entire upstairs was grain storage, but was now bedrooms, the study was the cow pen, and the former goat stall is now the kitchen), and all of us were treated to Dotty's homemade cookies and ice cream with real chocolate sauce.
Ice cream and cookies, cookies, cookies!

The acres of corn and vegetables, and sundry animals are certainly nothing new to the land here, but the pond was Lewis's creation and was heartily endorsed by the kids. As is popular here, here also has a large covered, but not enclosed outside dining and barbecue area with a monstrous smoker/cooker. And dotting the landscape are also a number of Incan and Cañari (the people before the Inca) stone artifacts, giving parts the impression of a scattered Stonehenge.

And if we ever wondered whether Lewis may be scheming to make a guest/tourist hacienda, any doubt was put to rest as he and Dotty ferried us back home in the chiva with traditional Andean folk music piping to everyone on the sidewalks. We felt like a one-float parade, and it was clear that this kind of experience, though common in other parts, such as Baños, has not yet been done in Cuenca. And that is strange, as Cuenca is a beautiful city for touring.

Lewis and Dotty did admit that they are considering a guest/tourist experience with their property, but they don't seem to have committed to the idea. They are still mulling a name for the hacienda, but Lewis mentioned one option that reflects the stone ruins, trees, and wood structures--Palos y Piedras (Sticks and Stones). Having let the kids loose on it, we certainly think the name captures the playful nature of the place.

It was a fantastic experience of gracious Ecuadorian hospitality and we felt like we had just gotten the whole guest package for free. If Lewis and Dotty were testing out the idea on us, we were happy to be guinea pigs and will recommend it to all our piggy friends if they do it.

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it wonderful what a change encounter brings!
    Looks wonderful, and as one of your piggy friends, I hope some day he does decide to open it up to more folks.