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haciendas on ecuador climbing expedition cotopaxi mountain madness

Bullfighting in San Agustin — Ecuador Hacienda

Is after sev­er­al glass­es of wine in the Inca Room at Hacien­da San Agustin that the con­ver­sa­tion drift­ed towards bull fight­ing. First Amber shared her fan­ta­sy of Ossy dressed in a bull fight­ers out­fit and then con­ver­sa­tion drift­ed to the ele­gance of move­ment and tight pants — dare I say, girl talk.” At this point I won­dered when Ossy would join our group and I would have some good old boy talk about climb­ing and all the oth­er things I had to catch up with Ossy about. Of course Ossy was nowhere even in the vicin­i­ty and was far away in the jun­gles of Ecuador assist­ing with the tran­si­tion of the eco-lodge Kapawi to be oper­at­ed by the local Achuar people.

But, I have to say the con­ver­sa­tion about bull fight­ing was more than apro­pos. San Agustin has a long her­itage of bull­fight­ing and an amaz­ing his­to­ry, not the least of which is the cur­rent own­er Mignon Plaza. To this day she remains per­haps the pre­mier female bull­fight­ers in all of Ecuador, which lends an extra­or­di­nary twist to this inter­est­ing place. As she explained the roots of her pas­sion for bull fight­ing the whole fam­i­ly his­to­ry revealed itself to us. This is a fam­i­ly with a rich his­to­ry, one that includes among oth­er things, two pres­i­dents of the coun­try, Mignon’s grand­fa­ther and cousin.

As Mignon explained, there are three parts to the hacien­da’s back­ground, the first as an Inca set­tle­ment, the sec­ond as her fam­i­ly acquir­ing the prop­er­ty in the ear­ly 1900’s, and the third Mignon’s time now to share the rich his­to­ry of this impor­tant hacien­da for tourists and the peo­ple of Ecuador. To the lat­ter she has done a remark­able job as vis­i­tors enjoy the fam­i­ly atmos­phere and the mag­ic Mignon strives to create.

As new rooms were cre­at­ed for vis­i­tors out of the exist­ing struc­tures Inca walls were revealed and now many of the rooms have exposed Inca walls, and ours had an extra touch of Mignon with two roar­ing fire­places, one even in the bath­room! Per­haps the most unique room is the din­ing room known as the Inca Room. Upon enter­ing the room it’s dark walls made of large, fine­ly cut stones, the hall­mark of Inca stone mason­ry, first give a fore­bod­ing feel­ing that soon changes to intrigue as con­ver­sa­tions of the rooms pur­pose remind us of the times of the Inca peo­ple. It is as unique as any din­ing room you can imag­ine. Add to this the Span­ish style court­yard that includes Inca walls and you have an ambiance dif­fi­cult to match in Ecuador.

For the kids up close and per­son­al fun with the res­i­dent lla­mas is a high­light for all. Whis­tled in from the fields by the groundskeep­er these odd crea­tures get ush­ered into the court­yard for all to feed with a hand­ful of car­rots. Lla­ma kiss­es and licks aside, the hacien­da cats pro­vid­ed hours of enter­tain­ment for kids and a moun­tain bike ride for the rest, rounds out a great time at this won­der­ful hacienda.

From here we trav­eled through Cotopaxi Nation­al Park along the paramo, an ecosys­tem likened to the Scot­tish moors com­plete with wild hors­es we saw gal­lop­ing across the lunar land­scape. A short lake­side hike gave the girls a chance to search for tad­poles and spy the birds nest­ing amongst the tall reeds. Along the way we stopped at one of our favorite moun­tain lodges that Moun­tain Mad­ness groups enjoy on the Cotopaxi Climb and enjoyed a beer as we sat and watched through pic­ture win­dows the kids play hide-n-seek in the tall paramo grass, all while the clouds peel back to reveal the glac­i­er clad slopes of the Cotopaxi, the high­est active vol­cano in the world.

What a day! We arrived back at home base of Rumilo­ma, wel­comed by a glow­ing fire start­ed by the friend­ly staff. Sleep came easy for all in the com­forts of our cozy rooms.