Sunday, March 2, 2014

Time for a mini-vacation!

I know, our whole life is a vacation to most folks but in reality we still have all the usual things to do: shopping, cooking, cleaning, paying bills, etc. Since our move to Ecuador we have spent a lot of time getting settled - dealing with paperwork, buying furniture and decorations, opening our bank account and more.

So when we read about the February special at Madre Tierra Resort in neighboring Vilcabamba, we immediately booked a room. Three nights, four days that included two one hour full body massages, a bottle of wine to accompany a Filet Mignon dinner, breakfast each morning and round trip transportation from Cuenca to the resort.

We had heard about Vilcabamba and even knew one friend we met last April had moved there. What we didn't know was how far away it was! We packed for warmer weather but also for possible cooler evenings.We grabbed a taxi into El Centro to the location of the van service. We had been advised to be there early as they left promptly at 2:30. There were two other couples when we arrived...by the time the van FINALLY left at 3:45, there were close to 18!!!

We were in a larger van so there were a couple of empty seats. The ride wasn't too bad...if you don't count the speeding in fog where you could barely see the road, slamming on of brakes when a slow moving farm vehicle was encountered and the subsequent fishtailing and hydroplaning. Good thing I keep my eyes closed when in the fog...can't take the feelings of panic when the drivers speed.

We had a brief stop in Loja and I snagged a couple of photos with my old iPhone. It looks to be a bit more modern than Cuenca, maybe a bit newer. VERY big, or at least it appeared that way at night.


But we finally made it to Madre Tierra at NINE pm after leaving our place at 1:30 so needless to say we were hungry. We were welcomed with open arms and quickly seated to enjoy our first dinner, the nightly special of soup, beef stroganoff with carrots and mash potatoes. It was delicious and I couldn't even eat it all! Sissy, the adorable little pup, quickly took care of my leftover beef. We also tried a local draft craft beer, nice and dark but smooth. Needless to say, that wasn't our last mug of that beer! Here are some phone pics I took...again, poorly lit from my old iPhone.


After dinner we walked up the steps with the co-owner, Peter. to our room, Casa #5, where the now VP of Ecuador once stayed. What a gorgeous room! Quaint and comfortable with a wonderful balcony overlooking the city. All the modern conveniences in a quiet, relaxing setting.



The next morning we walked back down those steps, wondering at the views and plants. We had breakfast around 8:30 and met some of the other guests.


We took a walk around the property while I snapped shots of the gorgeous flowers and other buildings.


Back for lunch...more homemade bread and more food than I could eat! Time for some relaxing on our balcony, enjoying the view.


While I watched the butterflies and hummingbirds flit around the huge poinsettia tree outside our front door, Stu decided to try the little citrus fruit on the tree beside our balcony. It looked and smelled like a tangerine, only smaller, but was pretty bitter. Not sure if it was really ripe or not.


We both slept well and woke up ready for our first ever full body massages. Wow!!! What a treat...the spa is breathtakingly gorgeous and very relaxing. Our massage therapist was a jewel and she understood that I needed her to be careful around my sprained ankle and still very bruised knee and shin. Oh, while Stu was having his massage, I did a little writing and was surprised to have a visit from Jiminy Cricket! (Okay, so it was really a little grasshopper but I don't know any cute grasshopper names....)


We rested the afternoon away and finally came down for our steak dinner. Stu picked the wine which we both enjoyed. He had wanted an Ecuadorian wine but settle for one from Chile. Needless to say, cuts of meat here are very different from the US and the beef is all grass fed and usually not aged. Wrapped in bacon, our filets weren't as tender as in the US but were still very good. Sissy was close by, just in case we dropped something. ;)


Because of the issues with the van service, Peter offered alternate transportation that allowed us to stay a little later before checking out. We had breakfast early, then an early lunch while we enjoyed chatting with the friends we had made. We took a taxi to Loja and then a different van service drove us back to Cuenca. We were fortunate to have no fog this time around and we made good time. Home, safe and sound before five pm.

My favorite photo of our stay.....up in the clouds!

So our general impressions? First, we can't say enough GOOD about Madre Tierra and the folks there. The owners, Peter, Gail and Suzanne are all wonderful, going out of their way to make sure you are comfortable and have everything you need.

The cooks and wait staff made sure we were satisfied and FULL, all our meals were delicious and if I had to find one thing to complain about, it would be that there was too much. But that said, they would store and reheat leftovers if asked. Honest!

The grounds are gorgeous and there were gardeners hard at work daily, trying to stay ahead of the growth. The greenhouse with the orchid garden was a little neglected but still beautiful. I took so many photos of flowers, plants, bushes and the buildings - you can see them all in our SmugMug album. (click any photo above to enlarge).

Our room was very comfortable and the balcony was used extensively. I even plugged in my laptop for a bit and worked from there. The shower was HOT and very enjoyable. I only wish my shower here in Cuenca would adjust the temperature that easily. LOL!

We never left the grounds, wanting to completely relax (which we did) for our short visit. Vilcabamba is a small, sleepy town but there are also great places to walk and hike, take horseback rides and more. Next visit we will stay longer and explore more.

Weather? Yes, it was a bit warmer than Cuenca and definitely more humid. It rained both afternoons but only for a short period (be careful on the tile steps when they are wet). It never warmed enough to try the gorgeous waterfall pool nor for shorts (for us although others wore them). It was much more casual dress than we anticipated which will help our next visit.

So yes, we WILL go back but our next mini-vacation will probably be to the coast where we will stay at a friend's B&B just outside Montanita. Time to visit the coast, once the high season is over.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna - I think the little "tangerine"-like fruit you found is a calamondin. Oddly enough, it is the skin that is edible, not the fruit itself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calamondin

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie

    ReplyDelete

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