Wednesday, July 23, 2008

New Camera and Old Friends

Our friends Jess and John E. Johnson recently spend a month with us. It was great to see them, and we are continually impressed with the number of visitors who make the trip to Ecuador. We'll have to write more about their trip soon, but along with six cans of Dale's Pale Ale, they also brought us a new camera we had ordered. It's pretty cool--waterproof, freezeproof, short, every proofing I need for something delicate. We had a bunch of fun rappelling down waterfalls with it, and swimming out and taking surfing shots while they were here...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Though our mighty editor was off gallivanting around England all month, we still managed to put together a new edition of the Ecuador Reporter. This month has an interesting article on volunterism in Ecuador, eating guinea pigs, a spread on the butterfly capital of Mindo, a production of the Vagina Monologues, and several other good articles for travelers and locals alike.

Tomorrow, refreshed from his vacation, our editor sets off for a meeting with the Ministry of Tourism! Anyway, my new article in the paper reflects on the myriad of difference in pre and post race schwag between races in the states and races here. You can read it here.

Monday, July 14, 2008


The end of June marked several occasions. One, our third anniversary on June 25. Two, Erin's successful completion of her first year teaching. Third, the successful completion of a long goal of mine to teach in international schools. Clearly, it was time to celebrate. I was racking my brain for something unique to do, something else than climbing mountains or surfing waves and camping, something we would never ever do normally. Then it came to me...spend money, we never do that!

Leafing through the now well-worn Lonely Planet, I happened upon a Hacienda-Ranch-Hotel near Cotopaxi. This place had everything Erin and I would never ever pay for ourselves...gourmet meals provided, llamas walking around the ranch, luxurious acomodations (fireplaces in both bathroom and bedroom, cotton robes, down comforters, hot water bottles in the beds, etc.) Not to mention that the whole place is built around Incan Ruins from a guardhouse that sat along the Incan highway from Cuzco to Quito! Truly, your head rested against a 15th Century Incan wall while you slept, you ate in an Incan Dining room, and, although the mix with Christianity is kinda weird, you could get married in a chapel made from Incan Walls.

We went for it, we stayed a night and maxed out our credit card at the Hacienda San Augustin De Callo; but what the hell, when do you get to sleep in an Incan House that also housed Alexandar Von Humbolt and Edward Whymper?

If you've got some cash, I highly recommend this place, when you include the meals for two people, and tours, it's not much more than a fancy hotel in the city...and it has so much more to offer. While we were there, Rob and Lisa Howard were photographing the place for an upcoming article in Conde Nast Travler, so keep your eyes peeled.

Interesting side notes:

The photographer we met, Rob Howard, who, besides being an extremely amiable guy, also has made some amazing trips. He's been taking pictures forever, and now works for all the big names, Men's Health, National Geographic, Conde Nast, etc. He's been in the Columbian jungle with the FARC, been held up by Kurdish rebels, and has taken photos of most of my climbing and skiing heroes. We had a great time with he and his wife.

The owner of the Hacienda, Mignon Plaza, is the aunt of one of my students. He and his family own the private (and rumored Incan burial grounds) Hacienda next door to hers. The Plaza family is very influential, Mignon's Grandfather was President of Ecuador in the early part of the century; and the current Plaza's continue to do many things for the people of Ecuador. On the bus out of town, I met a gentleman who confirmed this "The Plazas are good people, they help everyone from the churches to the schools, to the farmers."