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Kilina’s Travel Diary

Friday, 06 Jul 2007

Location: Machachi, Ecuador

MapHi everyone,

I've had a great week up at the Hacienda, have been on 4 horseback rides so far (I'm training to become a Chagra - an Andean cowgirl - dontcha know!), the best one by far being the 4 hours ride we took on Tuesday. Roberto initially didn't want to let me go (he said I was needed around the house, to help with the bedmaking or something) but after practically begging him he finaly allowed me to go along. We took a group of about 17 American students, along with Washington (the new guy, a 23 yo,whose name WASN'T Alberto... I got it wrong!) and Angel (a 33yo, who lead the group) high up into the mountains, where we had an amazing view of the snowcapped Cotopaxi (which I've decided is by far the most beautiful mountain I've ever seen). We walked, trotted and cantered for part of the way, then stopped off at the top of a hill to have a drink ('Te de sunfo', a sweetened tea made from a local herb, which is supposed to help you with the altitude) and a snack, and then we strapped everyone's chaps and ponchos to the horses, cos the students were going to hike the rest of the way, and Washington, Angel, the bus driver and I led the horses back to the Hacienda (most of which knew their way back by themselves, we just had to mack sure none ot left behind). It was soooo much fun, we practically cantered and galloped all the way back (I'd never have thought myself capable of doing that, at least not without falling off, since I hadn't ridden a horse in at least 5/6 years prior to coming here), but I was fine and loved every moment of it. In fact, although for most of the way Washington lead the pack of horses, at one point some of them started to head off in the wrong direction, so he went after them, and I carried on the right way and ended up leading the horses all the way back to the Hacienda myself! Since then I've been learning how to saddle and de-saddle (is that even a word?)horses, since the saddles are different here, and have tried to go along on as many horse rides as possible, since horseback rides here are one of the most fun things I've done in ages - and the views you get are priceless (although almot every muscle of my body's still aching from the long ride 3 days ago - all worth if though!).

I'm settling in really well, and getting to know everyone better and better each day. On Wed., Roberto and I headed down to the local school (the neighbourhood's called El Pedregal), since Maria Jose, who I haven't seen since she dropped me off, wanted me to meet the teacher and kids, since she's going to try to arrange for me to give a weekly English lesson. The teacher was lovely and almost pleaded with me to give classes there, saying she'd have a chat with Maria Jose herself, and I told her I'd absolutely love to help out. I met a few of the girls (it was their last day of class, so there weren't that many about who were adorable, so I'm really hoping something will come of it.

Apart from that, the days are going by here at their usual slow, lazy pace, typical it seems of the Andean countryside. We get up in the morning and prepare breakfast or box lunches for groups of visitors, then have breakfast ourselves. I then either og out on a horse ride or helpt out around the house, then we prepare and serve lunch, and have lunch ourselves. The afternoons are then spend either going on a horseride (if not in the morning) or again helping out around the house or in the kitchen (I've learnt how to make Empanadas de Queso, and am hoping to soon learn how to make homemade bread and blueberry jam).

I've decided not to head up to Quito this weekend, since it seems like the Haceienda's gonig to be full up with people from all over and I wouldn't want to miss out! Plus I'm enjoying myself so much here I don't see much point in returning to the city quite yet. 've heard the local Machachi 'Fiesta del Chagra', with horse displays and 'corridas de toro', is coming up soon (in about 3 weeks time) so I'm looking forward to checking that out too.

That's all for now. Off to catch the rundown bus in a mo. Hoping to have the chance to pop back down here early next week for another update.

Love to all from the Andes,

Kilina xxx