While researching modes of transportation in Ecuador I discovered Tren Ecuador. The trains were developed to serve the tourist trade. They provide guided tours to the areas surrounding Quito. After looking into all the tour options Mark and I chose the Volcanoes Tour.
The Volcanoes Tour included at trip through the countryside outside of Quito, stops in some small towns, a hike to explore the flora and fauna around the volcano, a typical Ecudorean meal, and a visit to a local farm.
The highlight of the trip was the stop in Machachi. We disembarked the train and were escorted to a platform in front of the station. There a group of local dancers performed folk dances. After their performance members of the audience were asked to join in. You know me! I couldn’t resist. A dancer tied her scarf around my shoulders and put her hat on my head. Then we started dancing. The music was beautiful. The dance was a little like belly dancing without so much belly and hip action. Dancing when you are 10,000 feet above sea level leaves you winded!
Once I caught my breath we followed our tour guide, Veronica, to the building where lunch would be served. I was expecting a sandwich in a cafeteria. We walked through a quaint courtyard filled with flowers and entered Hosteria La Estacion. My jaw dropped! We were in the most rustic and beautiful restaurant I have ever seen. Fresh roses adorned every surface, linen tablecloths, fine china, candles, and local artifacts made me feel as if I had been invited into a gracious Spanish home. The food was locally sourced, simply prepared, and delicious.
The host only spoke Spanish, but I managed to understand that we were dining with people from Costa Rica, Peru, Argentina, Mexico, and Canada. Mark and I were the only U.S. Citizens. We were sitting with Susan and Bill from Canada. To minimize Trump inquiries we pretended we were Canadians too.
After dinner the host, Panchito, led us down a cobblestone path to the farm. On the way we saw a young man exercising a $35,000 black mare. She was exquisite. Then Panchito called his goose. She came running and eventually climbed up on his shoulder.
We followed Panchito and his goose to pens that held llamas, goats, dairy cows, sheep, a miniature horse, and water buffalo. The baby llama was my favorite. It wouldn’t stop nuzzling me. It wanted its ears scratched.
We were then lead into a small courtyard. As we turned the corner my heart nearly stopped! There saddled up and ready to go was a dead ringer for my old horse Duke. As I approached him he tried to nip at me. He not only looked like Duke, he shared the same sassy attitude! He reminded me how much I miss horseback riding.
The grand finale was a serenade with Panchito and the goose. The children in attendance were delighted when the goose pooped on the elegant handwoven rug!
We boarded the train back to Quito. I ordered a cold cerveza. With a smile of satisfaction I watched the countryside roll by.