About Us

Welcome to our blog, describing our voyage aboard Bravo, a Kelly Peterson 46 sailboat with homeport in Seattle, Washington. We headed south in 2010, destined for Mexico and beyond. Cheers, Adam and Cindi

"As for me, I am tormented by an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts." -Herman Melville, 1844

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Around Otavalo...."breathtaking"!!!

Lago Cuitocha, w/ cuy butt island on left
We've had a great couple of days exploring the Otavalo region.  Two days ago, we rented mountain bikes, and with our excellent local guide, Luis, we headed up to Lago Cuitocha, at 10,065 feet above sea level.  The lake, an old volcano crater, is named (in Quechua language) for one of the two islands in the middle, which looks like a cuy's hind end.  It does, sort of!!

Adjusting bikes at the start

Bikes had "US Aid" stickers.  Not sure significance, but if America is helping to put folks on bikes, we're all for it!!
Happily we took the bikes to the lake by truck from the town of Cotacachi, but still had a few hundred feet of climbing to do.  Yikes, just 2 days from our sea level home, the climbs had these "sea slugs" puffing like old 3-pack-a-day smokers !!!

Luis at start of single track trails
But at last we started down the great single track trail.  Really a fun descent, the trail eventually widened out onto dirt roads, that we followed for many miles through indigenous villages and farmland. 

As it was Sunday, we continually passed local families on the way to church, and with the exception of some curmudgeonly dogs who weren't aboard with the whole biking program, it was a really beautiful ride.  Luis, from a nearby community, gave us great insight into the local culture and lifestyles of the indigenous people.

Eventually we were back in Cotacachi, where we returned the bikes and hopped a bus back to Otavalo.  Thanks, Luis, for a fantastic ride!

View from our hotel room.
Yesterday we decided to go hiking in the hills around Otavalo.  Starting out from our hotel room, we found the dirt and cobble track to follow up toward Parque Condor, a raptor rehabilitation center that we'd read about.

The route climbed continually through beautiful Andean farmland, as we hiked our way up toward the park.

Eventually we arrived at Parque Condor, and learned that the "daily" live flying demonstrations were done every day except Monday, the day of our visit.  Nonetheless we were allowed to enter the park and wander around the various hawks, eagles, kestrels and of course Andean condors, the largest birds in the world.

It was a beautiful place, perched on the top of the hill, with spectacular views all around.  Most of the birds are caged in large, well fitted out cages, where they are either kept until well enough to release back into the wild, or remain if their injuries keep them from reentering the wild environment.

Black chested buzzard eagle, with bald eagle in the background

Andean condor
Harris hawk

When we were done with our visit, we asked the owner about a trail that we'd heard about to a waterfall in the valley below.  His reaction was pretty funny.  He looked us each up and down, stroked his chin, and said "I don't think that trail's for you"!!!!!!  I mean, really!!!!!!!!!  Well, obviously the gauntlet was thrown, and down we went.

Although a fairly steady slope for the most part over a faint overgrown track, we eventually hit the steep parts, and swung like monkeys from the young eucalyptus trees as we made our way down the steep ravines to the river below.

 The trail led us to a town, where we followed an abandoned railroad track back to Otavalo.  All in all, a beautiful 9 mile hike through the Andean foothills.

Today we'll take a bus back to Quito, and another to Latacunga, where we'll spend several days in the region of the volcano Cotapaxi.

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