I was relaxing after a sumptuous lunch of chicken with walnut sauce at Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui. GM Alex Roman came up to the table. “Your Horse is ready,” he said.
With that I walked out to the green lawn near the stables to meet my steed. Maradona is an eight-year old mixed breed mare. Strong horse, she never stammered even with 200 pounds of me and the weight of the heavy western saddle.
We headed up the cobble-stoned driveway nose to tail. When we reached a dirt trail that narrowed and then circled up, she sped up her pace, leaping up the hill with me hanging on. It was a blast, she felt like she was in four-hoof drive. Underneath the big highway, my guide Juan Carlos walked us through a cement water channel, big enough for us to ride in with the stream running through it.
We continued along the path of the stream, and finally up to a badly paved road, past many concrete block houses that were left unfinished. “They ran out of money,” said JC. In other homes in various states of completion, laundry hung from lines, as a few had women rubbing clothes against a rock, and then slamming them down to get out the water left in the clothes. An elderly couple sat in the dark in their small block home, wearing traditional hats of the indigenous people in the area.
As we got higher and higher we passed local men and women hoeing their fields, and every so often a cow would be tethered with a blue rope.
Our horses followed narrow paths along side the fields and when a field was not yet tilled, we’d follow the path through the field. Up ahead was an extinct volcano. On the other side was Cotawasi, which is still spewing gas every so often.
These few hours of time on horseback was the highlight of my first visit to Ecuador. I”m sure I”ll be back!
Saddle up at Hosteria Hacienda Pinsaqui, near Otavalo, Ecuador.