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Our first evening was spent at the charming Hotel Quito with views of the Andes and ice capped volcano. The next morning my small tour group was ready for a traditional buffet breakfast of exotic fruits and special Andean foods along with bacon, eggs, etc. Breakfast was served on the 7th floor of the hotel overlooking the city and mountains. After breakfast, the group was feeling adventurous and decided to ride the ski lift taking them up 12,000ft to view the city of Quito and take a closer look at a volcano. They said it was ‘awesome’.

Our guide Jorge and translator Mercedes drove us through Old Quito and we made a stop at the Olga Fisch gallery with unusual merchandise. On to the Equator and Calderon a village specializing in bread dough art work. We arrived at our vacation home the El Meson de Las Flores about 9:00pm. We were greeted and served a great bowl of soup, herb tea and a special welcome cake. Our rooms were very modern and comfortable with fresh roses and Ecuadorian décor. El Meson de Flores is in Cotacachi, the leather village where you can wander from shop to shop and purchase great leather goods at very reasonable prices.

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We had a wonderful 6 days touring to Cuicocha Crater Lake, many villages with specialized product and of course the Otavalo market – the largest indigenous market in South America – what fun. Woodworking village with exquisite product being chisled right before your eyes. Peguche with tapestries, sweaters and a loom in action. Condor park – great collection of rescued birds and of course the condo with a 9ft wing span.

To relax I included a trip to thermal waters with pools of ice cold to very hot for soaking. We enjoyed a picnic lunch in this lovely park. This was only part of our experiences during these 6 days. The days were full of exciting things to do and see. We still had enough time for R&R.

We had massages at El Meson; doctor visits with unusual technology, such as iridology, reflexology, magnetic therapy and even computer personal body printout, on a disk for you to take home. (now made in English) Much information about your health and preventive care to keep you healthy.

Two of the people on my tour visited the dermatologist in Ibarra and the treatment was excellent and not very expensive. The dermatologist’s wife has a degree in facials – wonderful treatment for 45 minutes for $20. I have been to the dentist in Ibarra, very modern equipment and first class treatment at a low cost.

We spent part of a day at the beautiful La Mirage – a 5* spa with unusual massage treatments such as lavender, chocolate, grape, toxin release, energy, Shaman purification and more. Massages were 90 minutes, including a soak in a sunken tub covered with rose petals. A swimming pool, sauna, steam room and a beautiful relaxation room. We had an elegant lunch and enjoyed the beautiful restaurant and gardens with peacocks walking around and humming birds drinking nectar from the flowers. You will feel like a Queen or King after spending time at this magnificent spa.

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My trips to Cotacachi always include used clothing for the children, school supplies, sometimes vitamins and fun things like crayons and coloring books. The little village I visit has 35 children under the age of 5. What excitement to go into this village in a car or open back truck and hand out all the goodies. The people on tour with me were very moved by this experience. There is always much gratitude and thankfulness from the people living in this village. Of course we took lots of photos and the children giggled to see themselves on the camera screen.

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Actually, no one was ready to return to Quito and fly back to Miami . They are already talking about a future trip.