Yesterday Maria and I took the scenic route to Hacienda Zuleta. Our first stop was a small monument marking the equator on the side of the road (not the more dramatic La Mitad del Mundo). Supposedly you can only balance an egg on the equator, so Maria sweet talked one of the nearby restaurants into letting us borrow an egg for this experiment. She went first, nailing it within 15 seconds... it took me slightly longer, but I got there eventually! Something tells me I could probably balance an egg in Texas too if I really tried, but I don't want to ruin the magic.
We continued onto Otavolo to visit the markets. We weaved through locals doing their grocery shopping. And by weaved I mean I almost ran into several tiny women because they were below my field of vision. Maria convinced me to try a couple of interesting things:
- Malta con huevo- a hearty drink made with malta, alfalfa juice, a raw egg, and a mystery fruit. It looks terrible when I see the ingredients written down like that, but I actually really liked it!
- Granadilla - definitely my favorite mystery fruit so far - the flavor is a little like kiwi, but the texture is best described as mucous-like with crunch seeds. Again, now that I'm writing it, doesn't seem so good... oh well!
As soon as we pulled into Hacienda Zuleta all four of the dogs on the property sprinted up and mauled me with love. So off to the best possible start! I was welcomed and taken on a tour of the hacienda by a Sebastian, a human, while Dominica, one of the dogs, trailed behind us. Zuleta is owned by the family of former president of Ecuador, Galo Plaza Laso, and is a working dairy farm, horse ranch, and supports a number of community programs and wildlife conservation projects. It's just so nice here - antique furniture, Plaza family photos everywhere, community meals with the other guests (who all seem to be European? At least my terrible German is being useful)- it really feels like you're being welcomed into someone's home. I even came back to my room after dinner with this fireplace lit and a hot water bottle between my sheets to ward off the chill. Just stupid charming!
I'll updated soon with today's adventures, if I can convince myself to open my laptop again.