After two weeks of tiresome Spanish classes, we headed to La Luna, a secluded hostel outside of Otavalo. We plan to post reviews of the places we stay in each country, but I think La Luna is going to be hard to beat. It is a rustic hostel set amongst the beautiful countryside with a friendly atmosphere (they have 5 dogs!) and great food.
From La Luna, it is possible to take several trips to the surrounding mountains and lakes. On Sunday, we took a horseback ride to the hills above Otavalo and a hike with views of the Mojanda Lakes. Normally, we bypass “tours” or arranged “trips” because we find it cheaper to do it on our own. However, we really liked that La Luna works with their neighbors to offer trips and all the proceeds go to the family. So, on Sunday we headed out by horseback ride with Surgio to the surrounding hills. Chris rode astride Pinto, and I was on Pinta. Pinta, much like myself, likes to eat. Every few feet, she grabbed a branch of leaves and gnawed on it as she walked. Pinto enjoyed galloping; he was the racehorse of the bunch, but was kept in check by Pinta’s slowness.

Surgio provided information on the local orchards and farms. We passed several tomati and potato farms. Tomati is a type of tomato that grows on trees (they look somewhat like crab apple trees). Like tomatoes, they are a fruit—but they are truly a fruit in the fact that they are sweet compared to tomatoes and are used solely in juice (as far as we understand). We also passed what looked like watermelon trees, but we think watermelons grow on the ground so who knows (there is a lot we still do not understand; our language classes only got us so far). We also rode by the local bull fighting ring. Apparently, every community usually has one. From what we understood, bullfighting in Ecuador begins in December, and this particular ring will host a bull fight on December 6.

After the horseride, we took a trip to the Mojanda Lakes area to hike to the top of Fuya Fuya. The hike to the summit of Fuya Fuya begins at 12,136 feet (3700m) and ends at 13,972 (4260m). To give you some perspective, La Paz, the highest altitude city in South America, sits at 12,000 feet (3660m). We read this hike was difficult, but we were unaware that most of the difficulty of the hike is due to the altitude. To make matters worse, we misunderstood the route pointed out by our driver, and hiked the most difficult route. Our breathing was incredibly labored, and I experienced mild altitude sickness. We reached the top of the ridge, directly before the climb to the summit of Fuya Fuya. However, the weather changed to rain and hail and my pounding head made me nauseous, so we took a few pictures and headed back down. We were thrilled to see our driver was waiting for us as our return time was not suppose to be for another hour.

As always, to view more of our adventures see Chris´ and Jodi´s flickr pages.

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