The Ecuador Chronicles - 2011-16
Two Very Old Haciendas;
Great for a Visit to Cotopaxi
Alexander von Humboldt Slept Here
by Ray Almand
A few months back my old friend Andy and I had a real adventure with a sleet storm on Mount Cotopaxi. And, of course, a good adventure can really work up an appetite. Live Well Ecuador Associate Juan had a couple of pretty good options in the area for us - Juan was hungry too and it was way past lunchtime. Both of his ideas were haciendas, and as it turned out we got to experience both of them. If you missed our Cotopaxi adventure take a look at this link - Snowball Fight on the Equator:
Haciendas in Latin America originated as land grants by the Spanish Crown to Conquistadores and others who had the favor of the Crown. So, many haciendas date back to early Colonial times and have distinguished histories going back hundreds of years. In recent years some haciendas in Ecuador have become Hosterias - Country Inns. In fact, even in Colonial times and the early years of the Republic haciendas provided a place of sojourn for travelers. A few haciendas today in Ecuador continue their agricultural business tradition while also operating as Hosterias.
Hacienda San Agustin de Callo
Hacienda San Agustin de Callo has a history dating back over five centuries. It was originally an Inca fortress - in fact many of the walls are of Inca stone construction, distinctive in that the stones are tightly fitted together without use of mortar. The hacienda has served as an Augustinian monastery - thus its name. It was used by the French Geodesic mission in 1748 as a triangulation point in measuring the equator. Explorer - scientist Alexander von Humboldt stayed here in 1802.
And then came Andy and me. As we pulled into the parking area near the entrance there were security people and vehicles all over the place. We asked what was going on. It turned out that Ecuador Vice President Lenin Moreno Garces had our same idea - lunch at the Hacienda. The Vice President was dining with local officials. The Vice Presidential van was backed up near the entrance. Vice President Moreno Garces is handicapped - the van accommodates his wheelchair.
At first we were told we could not enter. I asked if we could just have a look around and the young security guard let us into the courtyard. So, we walked in. There was a local band leaning against a old Inca wall, I suppose to provide a musical welcome for the Vice President. They mugged for the camera as soon as I started to take a picture. We looked around the courtyard for a couple of minutes and that was it. A much more serious looking security official came over and told us it was time to leave. He had a big gun - we decided to have lunch elsewhere and headed for the car. I was a bit disappointed at not being invited for lunch with the Vice President - Thinking back on it, we may have had a somewhat scruffy appearance after our battle with the ice on Cotopaxi earlier in the day.
So, I did not get many pictures of Hacienda San Agustin - I pulled some of these from the Hacienda website.
Local Band Relaxing Against an Inca Wall
Local Band - After Noticing My Camera
Inca Wall - Not so Impressed
Mortar not Required
Stay Tuned Next Week - Andy, Ray and Juan Finally have Lunch at Hacienda La Cienega!