Livin the Life in the Highlands of Ecuador
After two weeks in the Galapagos and nearly two years on the road, we decided it was time to take a break and save some money. Our friend Dan Grec had volunteered at a hostel in the mountains of Ecuador and had really enjoyed the experience, so we contacted the hostel looking to volunteer and recoup some of the money we blew in the Galapagos. Having never visited the hostel but heard great things about it, we agreed to a month of volunteering and set out for the mountains. The Secret Garden Cotopaxi is an hour drive from the nearest town in the highlands of Ecuador. It is set up on a hillside overlooking a beautiful green valley with grazing cattle and lamas, and three volcanos that stretch around the other side of the valley. The largest of the volcanos, set front and center in front of the hostel, is Volcan Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi, standing at 5, 897 meters (19,460 feet), towers over the surrounding country side, with its beautiful white snow covered peak. The hostel itself sits at 3,500 meters (11,482 feet) which is a pretty considerable altitude when you think about it. Our first week there just walking up a hill was a challenge!
One of our happiest discoveries upon our arrival here were the four hostel dogs that immediately won us over. Basil and Milo are Dalmatian mixes and Mash and Daisy are wiener dogs. They all have great loving personalities. Basil and Mash are the tough guys who go everywhere with us including the 6 hour horseback rides and all 4 of them come on walks to the waterfall and around the area. Milo and Daisy are the lovey dovey dogs who are always down for a snuggle on the couch.
One of the other wonderful things about being here has been all of the awesome people we have met. Besides all of the awesome travelers that have come through here (some of whom we didn’t want to leave), the people that work at secret garden are all wonderful people and we feel like we have become part of a big family. Getting to know the people here has been a great pleasure, with the added bonus that Lacey can actually say for the first time on this whole trip that she is actually learning spanish! (Yes, I know how sad it is that after 2 years on the road this is just now actually happening).
For the past two months, we have been relaxing in the beautiful scenery, guiding hikes to a beautiful waterfall an hour away, and riding horses as much as possible. After a full day of activity, we relax in the evenings with a glass of wine, and enjoy the sunset over the mountains and the amazing colors of the clouds. In the beginning the lack of internet and availabality of the outside world was hard to get used to, but in the end we didn’t even have a desire to go to town or know what is going on in the world. We became hermits, and it was actually a wonderful feeling. Of course when you have amazing scenery and great hikes or horseback rides to enjoy it is easy to forget about anything else . At the risk of letting out the secret and sending the masses flocking to Cotopaxi, we can say that this area and the hostel truly is paradise.