October 2, 2003
The hacienda was really lovely, and I was essentially the only guest. I became friendly with the two main staff, a French woman working for the summer to save money while in business school in France, and a young Ecuadorian boy named Giovanni with a talent for painting, and with aspirations of being a culinary chef. His dream was to open a restaurant with an art gallery. He spoke no English, and was the first of many that forced me to dredge up what I could remember of my high school and early college Spanish classes.
I dined by candlelight in a grand room with fresh flowers on every table and a fireplace. For two meals, I was the only guest, and so was well attended to.
There was also a big enclosed swimming pool in another building, with a Turkish bath, sauna, and Jacuzzi. After dinner, I tried the Jacuzzi, but despite the cool evening, the water was too hot for me to take (and I have a very high heat tolerance!). So, I decided to try out the Turkish bath and the sauna. I undressed fully (being one of only a handful of guests, I figured the probability of being spotted would be rather low), and soaked up the warm, spicy aroma of the Turkish bath, then relaxed in the sauna's dry heat.
The weather was quite chilly in the hills at night, and in other parts of Ecuador, as well. The crisp mountain air was quite refreshing by day out on the spacious balcony, though at night the wind made my room quite cold.
At night Giovanni came and lit a fire in the little fire place in my room, and brought me one of his culinary creations—fresh pineapple slices in a cocoa and coffee sauce. Quite delicious. We sat and talked by firelight, at the little wood table and chairs in my room. I then bid him good night, and snuggled under the wool blankets. The following day I chased llamas and wandered the little paths, before flying out to the coast.
From journal Ecuadorian Adventure