Thursday, September 3, 2015

Hacienda San Isidro de Iltaqui, Ecuador

This is Mike...
We are staying at a sweet hacienda, which was on our bucket list, here in Iltaqui, Ecuador. The Hacienda San Isidro  is a working farm where we can help with the daily activities, or not. The hacienda is on a couple thousand highland acres over looking the valley and towns below. The farm is currently cultivating and using about 500 acres and is actively preserving the rest as wild space. In the upper regions of the Hacienda are spectacled bear, Andean condor, pumas, etc. The owner took us for an informative ride through his property today which was quite a treat. One of the coolest things we saw today was an Inca energy vortex and holy site which was right next to a pack of wild alpacas. Some trees, roughly in the shape of a grand 300 meters ring, around the holy site are growing in a stunted or contorted fashion. We also had the pleasure of walking on an Inca trail and being shown puma and fox sleeping dens. I knew it was cool when I heard Sierra say, "Wow...this place reminds me of Avatar."             
Zoe playing host and introducing me to the Hacienda for the first time.

Our room is on the upper left

Downstairs was just as cute and inviting as upstairs.

The girls like the calves very much.

Zoe was in her element, drifting off in cowgirl bliss.

Sierra liked pretend driving the giant tractor.

Hot coffee is much appreciated in the cool mornings at 8000 foot elevation.

The courtyard had such a private elegant feel to it.

The front of the hacienda is where our girls flew their kites for fun.

This is where Sierra said, "Wow...this place reminds me of Avatar." This Inca trail connects with the other Inca trails which were like highways of commerce thousands of years ago.

We didn't have Texas bluebonnets this year but these will do.

These flowers that the girls are in are very fragrant.

We like to give Sierra and Zoe the room to explore, pretend, and be kids

This is one of the contorted trees I referred to. This is a Eucalyptus tree, like the others in the background, but notice the shape is atypical for this tree. I checked this tree out and there weren't any cut marks from trimming. It was legitimately deformed. I saw some other contorted trees as well and the owner explained the ring of deformed trees around the holy site.

These wild alpacas are a neat sight to see when you are strolling in the forest.

The alpacas here were cautious but not fearful.

The holy site is built on a mound of white sand brought in from hundreds of miles away. Also, according to the owner of the property, a compass does not work while in the energy vortex. Inca shaman still use this site today for rituals and ceramic offerings are often found here. There is a detailed meaning of each post, each branch within the site. To make things even more strange there were giant wasps flying around this site when we arrived. The owner had us stand in a spot for a moment and he said a prayer and the wasps flew away. The wasps never bothered us at all. Seeing this place was unexpected for us and really was out of this world.     

This shows the white sand, which is actually used as a sand bath for the alpacas. This sand is not from here and the closest place it could have come from is a couple hundred miles away. Another part of today's discussion pertained to the Inca cleansing rituals that occur here and how the soul can be set free to forgive. The thing I most liked about the Inca perspective is "The past" is in front of you, because you can see it so clearly. Whereas "The future" is behind you, because you cannot see it at all.   

A portion of the ceramic artifacts found at the holy site. Some of these items are very old.

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