It's a good 7 hour drive from Cuenca to the small southern border town of Macará. And it's not just any old 7 hour drive. A winding two-lane highway leads the way through the Andes, finally dropping you in to the hot, desert-like part of the country (lying at 1,500 feet above sea level, some 7,000 feet below Cuenca), connecting Ecuador with Peru.
Macará is known for it's agriculture, and for having maintained it's small town charm and way of life. The population tops out at around 15,000.
This is where my mother-in-law is from and where my husband spent many childhood days.
It is a stark contrast to the city life we lead.
People hang out on porches, street corners, in the plazas. Chatting. Never in a hurry. Kids head off with any relative, their parents never quite knowing exactly where they are, they know they are safe. Kids walk to shops on their own, buy what they need, and return home with no adult supervision. People say hi, gather, chat, take time to enjoy one another, and life.
My husband's uncle spends his days at the family farm (this farm is immense, many hectares of land) "la Guatara" training Peruvian Paso Horses and watching over the land and its animals. There is no schedule other than the sun and the needs of the animals.
When we go, we stay in an adobe home that is more than 100 years old. Rooms are not completely closed off, one bathroom is shared with everyone in the home, and there is a fantastic open courtyard in the back. The covered part of this courtyard is where the dining room is. The floors are a polished cement and the finish is rustic. High temperatures let to an in necessity for blankets and the lack of hot water goes unnoticed.
Traveling to Macará always reminds me of how Cuenca is just part of the Ecuadorian experience. Staying put in the city doesn't allow you to grasp the true depth and diversity of the Ecuador, it's regions, or its people.
I am always thankful for my visits to this unique part of the country. But I am a city girl at heart and am always happy to come home.
Below is a photographic journey of our whirlwind weekend in the south...
|A Nativity scene at La Toma where we stop to have lunch.|
|Basilica del Cisne|
|Failed family portrait just outside of the Basilica del Cisne. |
Every family portrait should include a llama!
|Candles inside of the Basilica.|
|Kesha inside the Basilica. I loved the colors.|
|Nothing like fresh coconut water straight from the "nut" when it's hot outside.|
|At a "rest stop" playing with some chickens.|
|The plaza in front of my husband's grandma's house.|
|How we bathed Kalah.|
|A typical afternoon in the hammock outside of the house |
(this is like the front porch).
|A public warning about malaria from the 1960s|
|Kesha's second cousin playing "trompo" right outside of the house.|
|In order from back to front: my mother-in-law (Graciela), |
her mother (Teresa), me (with my eyes closed), Kalah,
and Kesha. This is right inside of the front door of the
house in the hallway.
|An electrical outlet inside of the house.|
|The house at "La Guatara" farm.|
|Horse saddles for the Peruvian "Paso" horses at La Guatara.|
|Tio Marcelo and the girls at La Guatara.|
|Tio Marcelo and Kesha at La Guatara |
(yes, Kesha is wearing her gold shoes *sigh*)
|Kalah May meeting a horse. This horse was pregnant and due any day.|
|Kesha "hammocking" at La Guatara.|
|Mi Vaquero. Arturo on a Peruvian Paso horse at La Guatara.|
|On the porch of the house at La Guatara.|