Evolution at the Tree Line: Shades of Gray in Ecuador’s Andes

First—there are more than 50 of them.  (Let’s get that clear right here at the beginning.)

Second—we noticed these abundant shades in a new way this past weekend, once we’d climbed into the higher elevations of Ecuador’s Cajas National Park, around 14,000 feet.  There we saw the sky as we hadn’t even 15 miles to the east in Cuenca, a city that sits at 8,200 feet above sea level.  (If you travel to Ecuador, note that the Cajas are an Ecuadorian arm of the Andes that separate Guayaquil, the country’s second largest city, on the Pacific coast, from Cuenca, approximately 120 miles inland.)

This shift in awareness got started, actually, when we moved from the US to Ecuador 6 months ago.  Then the clouds began to seem almost human, hovering over the mountains that circle the city we’d settled into.

We got a great view of Cuenca, stretched out below.

A great view of Cuenca and the surrounding mountains–(Sara’s image)

Shades of gray in the clouds above Cuenca--(Sara's image)

Shades of gray in the clouds above Cuenca–(Sara’s image)

This meteorological phenomenon is caused partly by geography.  Cuenca sits in a basin, surrounded by peaks that reach nearly 15,000 feet.  Most days the skies above the city change hour by hour, sometimes minute by minute.  Mornings are often blue-skied and sunny, but the day darkens as late afternoon rolls around and clouds thicken.  Light deepens and purples as evening approaches.  Sometimes weather patterns accelerate these shifts, transforming the mood in a matter of minutes—overhead a youngster, blue-eyed and blonde, morphs into a brooding old man, graying and hunch-backed.  He ages eighty years in less than as hour.

When, on Sunday, we set out by bus from Cuenca (buses leave Terminal Terrestre every 30 minutes), we didn’t have far to go before we noticed these changes, only 30 kilometers.  (Note: we took the luxury bus to Guayaquil that stops in the Cajas, so we paid a $2 fare per person.  We could have paid closer to a dollar, but the more expensive bus happened to be leaving just as we arrived at the terminal.  We paid more for the sake of convenience.)

We arrived in the Cajas to clear skies and slight winds.  There was a chill in the air, but it wasn’t cold, as some have warned these mountains can be.

Be aware, however, that the terrain even at the entrance to the Cajas National Park is uneven, so the excessively clumsy, like me, should be careful.  I twisted my left ankle and scraped my right knee not more than 10 steps from the bus.

Still, it’s not like me to let a few bruises or even a bit of blood dampen my enthusiasm.  I set off with friends Fred and Juan to explore our new surroundings.

Many of you have met Juan in past posts, but Fred, in the event you’ve forgotten, is a psychologist who epitomizes senior citizen determination, trekking with a bum knee, far from his wife, as Juan and I did from our partners, as well.  While we were off adventuring, our respective spouses Susan, David, and Sara, chose calmer kinds of exploration, near the park’s entrance and welcome center.  (To visit Susan’s site on e-publishing, click here.)

At the entrance to Cajas National Park, (L-R) Fred, Susan, Juan, David, and Kathy--(Sara's image)

At the entrance to Cajas National Park, (L-R) Fred, Susan, Juan, David, and Kathy–(Sara’s image)

As you may have guessed, the sights were stunning—but not just for those of us who forged ahead, but for the three who chose quieter activity, as well.

In the photos below you’ll see some of the differences in our two groups’ experiences.  These are largely variations in how stillness or movement affected our awareness of the landscape and sky.

Juan, Fred, and I chose to roam fairly far, and in our forward motion we took ourselves to new sites, new views of mountains, and even a few wild llamas.

First up—the members of our trekking team.  Notice, how, for the most part, the landscape embraces us.  The sky is evident but not dominant in any of the next few photos.

Juan in one of the only trees we saw growing at around 14,000 feet--(Kathy's image)

Juan in one of the only trees we saw growing at around 14,000 feet–(Kathy’s image)

Photographing Fred--sometimes even green looks gray.  (Sara's image)

Photographing Fred–sometimes even green looks gray. (Sara’s image)

Kathy on a rock with the lagoon behind--(Juan's image)

Kathy on a rock with the lagoon behind–(Juan’s image)

But in forging ahead, we took ourselves to the sights.  Here’s what we saw.

Shades of blue and gray--(Kathy's image)

Shades of blue and gray–(Kathy’s image)

Large rock in the lagoon--Kathy's image)

Large rock in the park’s lagoon–Kathy’s image)

Same rock from another perspective--(Kathy's image)

Same rock from another perspective–(Kathy’s image)

Notice how the grass tends toward shades of gray, with the steely mountains in the distance--(Kathy's image)

Notice how the grass tends toward gray, while steely mountains stand in the distance–(Kathy’s image)

More blues and grays--(Kathy's image)

More blues and grays–(Kathy’s image)

Tundra tends toward the gray, as well.  (Kathy's image)

Tundra tends toward the gray, as well. (Kathy’s image)

Mountains meet the sky.  Both are shades of gray. (Kathy's image)

Mountains meet the sky.  (Kathy’s image)

Does it get any more gorgeous than this?  (Kathy's image)

Does it get any more gorgeous than this? (Kathy’s image)

We began to see the sky gray.  (Kathy's image)

We began to see the sky darken. (Kathy’s image)

Then, we came upon some llamas foraging for food on the rocky cliffs.   Juan got the better pictures.

Kathy's shot of the mama llama--

Kathy’s shot of the mama llama–

Kathy's image of llama on the run--

Kathy’s image of a llama on the run–

Juan's picture of the mama llama.  He got closer than I did, at which point she began to spit at him.

Juan’s picture of the mama llama. He got closer than I did, at which point she began to spit at him.

Juan got the best image of the day--llamas enjoying the view.

Juan got the best image of the day–llamas enjoying the view.

Sara, Susan, and David, on the other hand, allowed change to come to them, seeing how the sky impacted their perspective on the surrounding mountains.

This second group didn’t bother taking photos of one another.  They had better things to look at, and mostly they were looking up.

Except for when they weren’t.

Gorgeous, isn't it?  (Sara's image)

Gorgeous, isn’t it? (Sara’s image)

Okay, so I looked down once, as well.

But I couldn't help myself.  (Kathy's image)

But I couldn’t help myself. (Kathy’s image)

And, damn, if Sara didn’t catch me doing it!

How does she manage to always get a shot of me taking a photo?  (Sara's image)

How does she manage to always get a shot of me taking a photo? (Sara’s image)

But, seriously, there was lots of looking up, as well.

Sara didn’t go far from the park’s main entrance.  Rather, she let the camera find us.  The clouds came to her.

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You can barely see Juan and Kathy–(Sara’s image)

Sara got another shot of me taking a photo–this one of Juan.

I'm beginning to catch a theme.  How about you?  (Sara's image)

I’m beginning to see a theme. How about you? (Sara’s image)

So, here’s the photo I was taking.

The man of the  hour--(Kathy's image)

The man of the hour–(Kathy’s image)

Sara took lots of mountain photos.  I think they’re amazing.  Notice how the sky grays over the course of the following images.

Blue sky--(Sara's image)

Blue sky–(Sara’s image)

Now it's the water that is stunningly blue. (Sara's image)

Now it’s the water that is stunningly steel blue. (Sara’s image)

Sky is beginning to mirror the mountain's color.  (Sara's image)

The sky is beginning to mirror the mountain’s color. (Sara’s image)

I love this shot.  (Sara's image)

I love this shot. (Sara’s image)

The clouds darken even further.  (Sara's image)

The clouds darken even further. (Sara’s image)

Then both the sky and mountains become eerily gray.  (Sara's image)

Then, both the sky and mountains become eerily gray. (Sara’s image)

Then even more so--(Sara's image)

Then, even more so–(Sara’s image)

Then downright dark--(Sara's image)

Then, downright dark–(Sara’s image)

Once our two groups rejoined one another, we took the bus to a nearby restaurant and lodge a mere 5 miles closer to Cuenca.

At the bus stop--(Sara's image)

At the bus stop–(Sara’s image)

The restaurant-hotel complex is called Dos Chorreras—Spanish for the two waterfalls that overlook the resort.

Dos chorreros--(Sara's image)

Dos chorreras–(Sara’s image)

There, we enjoyed an amazing lunch of fresh trout (entrees between $10 and $15) and discovered a gorgeous place to overnight, as well.

Eating lunch--(Kathy's image)

Eating lunch–(Kathy’s image)

Another shot of the dining room--(Kathy's image)

Another shot of the dining room–(Kathy’s image)

The soup was amazing!  (Kathy's image)

The soup was amazing! (Kathy’s image)

Trout dish at Dos Chorreros--(Kathy's image)

Trout dish at Dos Chorreras–(Kathy’s image)

If Ecuador travel is in your future and you are interested in staying at Dos Chorreras,  note that the rooms are lovely but pricey, at $150 to $200 a night–the most expensive thing I’ve discovered in Ecuador, so far.

Beautiful bed--(Kathy's image)

Beautiful bed–(Kathy’s image)

The more expensive rooms include a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub.  (Kathy's image)

The more expensive rooms include a fireplace and Jacuzzi tub. (Kathy’s image)

However, the hotel’s common areas also boast fireplaces.

Lobby at Dos Chorreros--(Kathy's image)

Lobby at Dos Chorreras–(Kathy’s image)

Another seating area at the hotel--(Kathy's image)

Another seating area at the hotel–(Kathy’s image)

Activities at the lodge include horseback riding, kayaking, and hiking.  Riding costs $10 for 3o minutes.  We didn’t spring for that.

But Sara enjoyed the horses.  (David's image)

But Sara enjoyed seeing the horses. (David’s image)

I did, too.  (Juan's image)

I did, too. (Juan’s image)

The hotel grounds house deer and fowl of various kinds.  This deer was inside a large enclosure.  Others were roaming freely.

Juan took this photo he calls "Bambi behind Bars."  Kind of sad.

Juan took this photo he calls “Bambi behind Bars.” Kind of sad.

Black swan--(Sara's image)

Black swan–(Sara’s image)

We assumed this was a pheasant of some sort.  (Kathy's image)

I’m told this is a guinea hen.  (Kathy’s image)

Eventually, we left Dos Chorreras and waited inside this roadside restaurant for a bus to take us back to Cuenca.

It was warm and cozy.  (Sara's image)

It was warm and cozy. (Sara’s image)

But the bus never came, or, rather, the ones that did pass didn’t stop.  Thus, we taxied home, as the skies nearly blackened and it began to rain.  (Cab fare from the Cajas to Cuenca is $12 to $16, depending on the number of passengers, time of day, and weather conditions.)

For the ride home, we were treated to a downpour and blackening skies.  (Sara's image)

For the ride home, we were treated to a downpour and the darkest skies of the day. (Sara’s image)

So you see, clouds are more complicated for me than they used to be.  They not only predict rain and now store data; they also prove there’s more to gray matter than some might imagine.  Maybe that’s why Sara says I have my head in the clouds.

When you go to new places, do you set out to explore or prefer to sit quietly, watching and observing?  Have you ever visited a place where your experience of the sky was different than where you came from?  Is there a place you haven’t visited yet that is on your bucket list?

112 thoughts on “Evolution at the Tree Line: Shades of Gray in Ecuador’s Andes

  1. Wow, what lovely photos and what looks like an incredible trip. When I go to new places, I like a combination of exploring and watching quietly. I’m always very aware of the sky and trees, wherever I go, because they are never the same. As a matter of fact, as I was typing this comment, I glanced up and saw this (and the picture doesn’t do it justice . . . the trees are glowing) https://scontent-b-iad.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1383058_10202367042002217_1120678513_n.jpg

    World travel is my bucket list.


    • Oh, wow, the trees are gorgeous, Lisa. Love that you included a photo in your comment. I’m missing the changing colors.

      When you visit, we will definitely go to the Cajas. They are not to be missed–and just outside of town.

      Glad you get the best of both worlds–stillness and activity. Good choice.

      Hope your week is going well. Hugs to you, dear Lisa!


  2. 1) Once again, I see the names … hmmmm … which seems out of place? 😉

    2) That park is fabulous! Loved the lake pics, put the treeless terrain is stunning.

    3) The bus stop pic made me laugh.

    4) Great hotel!

    5) Oh … Hi Juan!


    • So glad you enjoyed all of the above. You know, Juan still jokes about your comment. I’ll be sure to pass along your greeting, if he misses it.

      Seriously, this is a gorgeous place. Anyone who travels to Ecuador must be sure to see it.

      Take care, Frank! Thanks for stopping by.


  3. I am so happy to have wandered the park with you this morning! Given the state of life, I am nearly tempted to pack up and find a home. Thankfully, I am in control of my emotional reactions. Gad Kathy, this was spectacular.


    • Thank you, Val! It was an incredible day–maybe my best in Ecuador so far. And I’ve had a lot of great days for this to compete with. Hope your life calms down. If not, Ecuador is always here. Take care, my friend!


  4. Kathy – The fullness of the cloudscapes is beautiful! Some fierce, some serene — each conveying their own message. All of the photographs were a joy to look at, not just the clouds.

    You asked, “When you go to new places, do you set out to explore or prefer to sit quietly, watching and observing? Have you ever visited a place where your experience of the sky was different than where you came from? Is there a place you haven’t visited yet that is on your bucket list?”

    When I go to a new place, I explore AND observe along the way (that’s true wherever I am not just a new place). The sky is different in Fort William, Scotland, where I was born. I have yet to visit Greece, Italy, and France.


    • So glad you appreciate the cloud formations. I know I’ve said it before, but we can’t get over how nuanced they are.

      And guess what? Somehow I would have expected that you’d do both. Isn’t it great that sometimes you really can have your cake and eat it too–so to speak?!

      Hope your week is going well, Laurie. Wonderful to hear from you. Thank you!


  5. I could look at these photos all day. Lovely. Simply lovely and how neat to have photos from all of the photographers on the trip!! Amazing images captured. When we go new places we tend to go off on our own and explore as much as possible without others around. I love to just sit and observe and take it all in but I also like to interact with those who might be a part of the new place. I like it all!!! Thanks for the mini vacation this morning!


    • Sometimes Sara and I enjoy exploring alone, as well. One of our favorite things to do is to walk the beach as the sun is rising, collecting shells and wading in the water. Gosh, it doesn’t get much better than that.

      So glad you enjoyed the photos. It was an incredible day. Hope you are having a wonderful week, my friend. Thanks so much for stopping by!


      • It’s heavenly, isn’t it? We spent Christmas one year at a beach in Vietnam that was amazing private and quiet. Had the beach to ourselves and made the most incredible discoveries. Sheer bliss. Doesn’t surprise me you enjoy that, as well!


  6. Wow Kathy,

    Loved your analogy of the weather as an old man aging. I was driving the Brooklyn Queens Expressway on Sunday and witnessed a gorgeous orange Halloween-esgue sunset of a backdrop for the Statue of Liberty. Had to keep my eyes on the road – but glanced as much as I could.

    I want that soup! What a great looking hotel.

    The wildlife was cool too – that pheasant, I believe is a guinea – we used to raise them when I was home on the farm – the chicks are the cutest of all.

    Thank you for taking me on another excellent excursion in South America.




    • Hi Robert–So glad you enjoyed the post. The sunset you describe sounds stunning. Wish I could have seen it.

      And thank you for identifying the bird–we had no real idea what it was. I’ll correct that. Fun to know what it actually is.

      I’ll see what I can do to send some of that soup your way. Ecuador, in general, has fantastic ones. They are served as an appetizer with almost all lunches–along with a popcorn garnish.

      Drive carefully, my friend. Great hearing from you!!!!


  7. What a wonderful travelogue-ish post! Such good information! It is really so inviting! When I travel, which is rare, I don’t like to appear too much like a tourist. I like to hang out with the locals. When I spent a vacation in Chicago, I found a corner coffee shop and got up early each morning to go there to read the paper. When I was on Grand Turk Island, I passed by the shops catering to the tourist trade and went to the little places run by and for the islanders. I always like to fit in, I think, imagining that I live there. I may miss out on some of the best things about a place by never wanting to look like I’m looking! Thanks, Kathy!


    • Thanks, Cindy. The visit we made was amazing, so this post was fun to put together. Uploading so many photos was a bit of an issue–but not too bad.

      Sara and I like to fit in, as well. Here we avoid the part of town where most of the expats live–like the plague–well, maybe not that strongly–but we stay away and live in an exclusively Ecuadorian neighborhood. I love that you make similar kinds of decisions. Somehow, that doesn’t surprise me. Still have snow in your part of the woods?


  8. That was a fabulous post Kathy, I felt as if I came along for the ride. That first picture is telling, you both seem to have embraced the culture quite nicely. That is what makes travelling so fun, you learn to appreciate life from a different perspective. Great pictures! My bucket list gets longer and longer by the minute, LOL!


    • Thanks, Marcia. It’s wonderful to hear from you. So glad you enjoyed the photos and the virtual journey. Loved having you along for the ride. Hope you are doing well. Let us know if you ever come this direction. And be well, my friend!


  9. I L-O-V-E-D the post. I’ve never been to South America so it was a pleasure to see it through your eyes. I’ve been to a lot of places in the world but never South America. I find that I have a special interest in the sky that I never had before. I love sunsets. I think that is obvious from my posts but the night sky is fascinating. To see all the lights and wonder….. Thanks again.


  10. Beautiful images! I love watching the sky and the weather wherever I am. And I may be adventurous in spirit, but I’m a little cautious about those long hikes up the mountain. I’d probably have stayed pretty close to the lodge as well.


    • I understand your hesitation. You would likely have been wise in your decision. It was rugged terrain. I shouldn’t have done what I did with my injured ankle, but I couldn’t help myself. I paid the price later. I think it was worth it.

      It makes total sense that you, too, love the sky–all of the natural world, for that matter.

      Great to hear from you, Lisa. Thanks so much for stopping by.


  11. I was going to ask you if you get much rain there. Often, your skies remind me of ours, with 50+ shades of gray. This looks like another great getaway! Love the lodge, love the colorful bowl of soup, love the spitting mama llama. To answer your question, when I visit a new place, I definitely like to explore.


    • Yes, you are definitely an explorer. I know that about you. Even the characters in your novel are explorers.

      I sometimes think of the Pacific Northwest when I think about our weather. However, we have no real variation in temperatures throughout the year. It’s pretty much perfect all year round.

      Hope your week is going well, Mark. Tell Tara I said hello!


  12. Do the indigenous travel to these sites? I saw none on this trip. Were indigenous on the fancy bus? Do you see indigenous at the $150/night hotel….vacationing…not employed….? Do you see yourselves acquiring an Indian friend, one who would travel with you and the gang, come to your home to share a meal, teach you the language? Just wondering…..


    • Hi there, JK. Yes, the indigenous do visit all of the places we’ve checked out recently. There were, however, VERY few people in the park–period. It surprised me. I’d say we saw no more than 20 people–about half were indigenous. We notice families are often at these places on Sundays.

      At the hotel we saw almost exclusively Ecuadorians–some of whom may have been of indigenous origin. I didn’t notice. We were struck by how few gringos were at the place. Maybe one or two other couples in the huge complex.

      Yes, we had our landlady, who is of indigenous origin, at our home yesterday. We live in an exclusively Ecuadorian neighborhood. We did that purposefully. I have seen only one other gringo family. In fact, seeing one is cause for comment.

      Hope that answers your questions.

      Oops, I’ve only ever heard the indigenous speaking Spanish. However, our landlady has taught us a few words. It seems the language is not used that often, at least not that I’ve heard. Maybe it is in family settings, but I’ve not even heard it at indigenous markets. I don’t know why. This would be worth exploring.

      I’m sure most indigenous families can’t afford to stay at the hotel, but then we can’t either.


      • Oops–yes, we always see the indigenous on buses–even the “fancy” one–which would be primitive by US standards. “Fancy” is relative. Also, Ecuadorians, especially the indigenous, I believe, get special rates. We pay more than they do. Maybe we’re the ones who get the “special” rate. Depends on how you look at it.


  13. Can I just say I was jigging away at my (stand up!) desk and grinning like a madwoman the WHOLE way through this post. My man with the green-grey eyes came over to see what all the bottom-wiggling and chortling was about and loved your photos. The Tree, the llama mama (:D) and those mountains…incredible.

    Loved your imagery of the young/old man sky, and laughed so much at your phrase ‘bum knee’ as it painted such a funny picture in my head (sorry Fred). And then I realised we would say ‘dicky knee’ which painted an even weirder picture!

    Off to read your other followers comments (you get great ones don’t you?) and gaze at the mountains again. 😉


    • I’m tickled you enjoyed my post, “Ginger.” I can just see you at that desk doing your jiggle! How funny!

      I can’t tell you what a fun day we had in Cajas. When I’m with this group, I laugh so hard I nearly pee my pants. I love to laugh, period, but around these folks nearly everything is a hoot. I suspect you’d enjoy them.

      Yes, “dicky knee” IS even weirder!! Don’t you just love language!

      And you are right again that I get great comments. I feel blessed to have so many terrific folks read my stuff. Blogging has been a wonderful way to create community.

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving such a lovely comment yourself. It’s great to hear from you!


    • Yes, yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I read your post, I couldn’t help but think of mine, too! What a hoot! By the way————

      I started the sentence above, got called away, and now I have no idea what I started to say. Hope it wasn’t important. LOL


      • I’ll continue then…By the way, my husband now wants to move to Ecuador as he says it has awesome surf too!
        We’ve always planned to head to Latin America when the boys are at university, as we both speak Spanish (I speak posh Castillian, he speaks a riper LA version that he picked up from Mexican colleagues in New York).
        Maybe we should work harder to get the college funds topped up more quickly!


      • I’m not a surfer, but I have heard the surf in a few towns to the north of Manta is incredible. I love the sea, but I’m also crazy about the climate up here in the Andes–perfect, spring-like all year round. Hope you all will beef up the college funds and come.


  14. Okay, your nerdy friend is here to teach you about that supposed pheasant. It is, in fact, a guinea fowl. We used to raise them when I was a kid. Be happy you don’t live too close to them because they make a godawful noise each and every morning. Interesting to look at, but incredibly loud……..Stop injuring yourself, Sista! Geez!….. You know, if you and Sara were so inclined, you could raise llamas and sell their wool. You could make a nice living. Even better are alpacas. Knitters who have their own spinning wheels pay a pretty penny for raw wool. I used to know a lady who spins her own yarn. She even dyes it!………To end my rambling comment, I accidentally wound up in downtown D.C. when I was dating Jim and visiting him in Virginia. Talk about a country girl in the city! I’d never even been to downtown Cleveland! The buildings were so high they blocked the sun. At least to me. I giggled the other day at a piece on Rachel Maddow about how the buildings in D.C. are short. Not to this corn pone girl! lol!


    • Okay–you officially crack me up. Thank you for identifying the bird. One other person made a similar comment. I just need to go and make the correction.

      You have NEVER been to downtown Cleveland?! That’s incredible. I think Jim is going to have to fix that sometime soon.

      Gotta love Rachel Maddow. I miss her down here in Ecuador.

      Hugs to you my dear country friend–and those boys and husband of yours! Love to all of you for both of us!


      • I have been to Cleveland now, just not back in ’96. I was a late bloomer. I’m also not one much for the city. I avoid it at all cost, lol! So sad that you don’t get to see Rachel Maddow. Can you watch her online?


  15. 1) I like the tree where Juan sits. 2) The llamas are very cool. 3) The scenery gorgeous. 4) The food and hotel looks exquisite! Your questions are equally engaging. I do set out to explore, but often feel my mind become very passive and empty and just drink in what’s all around. By the way, that’s a guinea hen up above. Our neighbors have them out here in the woods. How amusing to discover they’re in Ecuador as well.


    • I’m delighted you enjoyed the post, Kathy. It was such a fun day. We were amazed at this single tree growing from the bank of the lagoon, as they call it here. The tree has papery bark. I need to find out it’s name.

      My mind has been known to empty when I’m traveling, as well. I wonder if it just shuts down from too much stimuli. I don’t know.

      Thanks for clarifying what the bird is. I have corrected the caption. Thank God I have readers who know these things.

      Wonderful to hear from you, Kathy. Hope your week is going well! Is there still snow on the ground?


  16. YOU’RE KILLING ME KATHY!!!!I!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How am I supposed to keep going to work every day, doing all of the ‘have to’s’ when you keep sending these gorgeous pictures and life changing blogs out here to me?????

    Earlier today, before I even read this I told my coworker that I expect David will be spending the summer with you guys!!!!!

    You make life look soooooooo great. 🙂

    Hugs on express!


  17. I tried to be sneaky and read this post about 14 hours earlier on my iPhone at The Grind, but the images kept crashing it! At this late hour I don’t have much to add to everyone else’s comments raving about your lovely sight seeing. Those mountains are gorgeous and that is something else how the sky goes from youthful blue to cranky old bat gray in the course of a day. Whenever I go to a new place, all I’m looking for is the exit and the restroom.


    • Your comments, even those composed at a late hour, never fail to make me laugh. I’m definitely always looking for the restroom, too.

      What else it there for me to say, especially at this early hour. It was an amazing day. The llamas were cool. The company was awesome.

      Hope you got some sleep. Great to hear from you, LA!


  18. Gorgeous views! But I think the shots of the llamas are my favorite. How fun to see them “in nature”.

    I love that Sara takes photos of you taking photos. 🙂 I think you’ll have to turn the tables on her next time.

    As for a place on my bucket list: Ecuador!


    • The llama shots are my favorites, as well. It’s amazing how close Juan was able to get. I was much further away. I want to learn more about these beautiful creatures.

      I DELIGHTED Ecuador is on your list, Jackie! Think you all might come next summer? Whenever it is, we can’t wait!

      Greetings to Reggie, as well. Great to hear from you!


      • Ah, thanks! I’m excited for the release of this book. I see that you are writing a memoir and wow, what a great subject. I review books on my writing blog and if you ever want to guest post or anything, let me know. It would be an honor to have you.


      • Thanks for the offer. I’d be honored and will let you know. And once I read your book, I’ll look forward to writing a review for you on Amazon or Smashwords. You’re releasing an ebook, right? Or are you working with a traditional publisher.


      • I will be releasing an ebook on Amazon, hopefully soon. I can send a review copy when it’s ready if you’d like.

        And please, let me know if you would like to do an interview or guest post on my blog. And if you have anything you would like me to review I would be more than happy to.


    • I know, aren’t they cool! I was so excited to see them. I, too, like the craggy hillside. Amazing how the llamas run around on them. They must have great balance. I need to read more about them.

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by. It’s always wonderful to her from you!


  19. Wow. That’s all I can really say. The photos are awesome. I can only imagine how impressive it must have been in real life. And although the mountains and clouds and llamas are spectacular, I was fascinated by the grass. Lovely. Thank you for taking the time and care to share this part of the world with us.

    Hugs from a world turning yellow.


    • Oh, you’re a sweetie, Christine Thanks for the hugs from just-north-of-home! Talked to my mom this morning and she said the leaves are gorgeous in her part of Lexington.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. Interesting that the grasses interest you. I found them fascinating, as well. Take care, my friend–and hugs from here in Ecuador, as well. Thanks for stopping by!


  20. Love this travelogue! Missing you! Xo

    Mindy Shannon Phelps Communications, LLC 238 McDowell Road Lexington, KY 40502 859-619-1642



  21. Everywhere you look, must be a feast for the eyes. Absolutely stunning photos. I love how Sara always gets a shot of you taking photos. And I love the photos taken when you were looking down. I do that, too. When I travel I’m in constant motion. The way I see it, I’m not there long so I have to see all I can in the short time I’m there. I can walk pretty fast when push comes to shove. And I love walking! Have a great week!


    • Ha! Why does your constant motion while traveling not surprise me? Somehow, I imagine you in constant motion most of the time.

      Your post this morning made me chuckle. I need to watch the PBS special you mentioned! Have a wonderful week, my friend!

      It’s great to hear from you!


  22. I’m so glad I read this on a desktop computer – the photos are amazing 🙂 And now I want a Llama and a two week holiday in the same hotel you were staying in – it looked like heaven ! Xx


    • Hi, Kel! How are you? I’m glad you got to see the photos on a desktop, as well. When I saw them on Sara’s desktop, I was amazed.

      Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay at the hotel. We’d love to someday, however. We just stopped by for lunch and took a bit of a tour. Gorgeous place.

      Hope your week is getting off to a good start. Hugs to that sweet baby of yours–oops–and you, too!


    • How wonderful to hear from you, Kim! Now that you mention you like the bed, it makes me wish I could have gotten a photo of the ones that hang from the ceiling like giant swings–huge queen or king-sized beds, hung from the ceiling. They were incredible! Hugs back to you, my dear!


  23. Some of the pictures on this post are utterly spectacular, and they all convey a great sense of how it must have felt to stand there and absorb the views and the colours. I am a confirmed cloud-gazer. They absolutely delight me, skies and clouds, wherever I go, and I can think of nothing better than an opportunity to lie back on a sandy beach/grassy knoll and just stare at the panorama above me.
    I love all the furniture and architecture of the places you stopped at. Ecuador seems really beautiful seen through yours and Sara’s collective lenses! And it’s really sweet of Sara to click pix of you unbeknownst to you 🙂
    So sorry you fell and got bruised and scraped 😦 Hugs!


    • Hi, Mun. How wonderful to hear from you. So you enjoy the sky, as well? I’m now curious to know how skies are different in various parts of the world. I remember when I moved to Oklahoma, how HUGE the sky felt–it made one feel tiny and insignificant. This feels different than that.

      Thanks for stopping by and wishing me well with my injuries. Fortunately, I’m fine now. Hope your week had gotten off to a good start. I’ll tell Sara you enjoy her photos! Hugs to you, dear Mun!


    • Hi Julia, how wonderful to hear from you. Indeed, Ecuador is a beautiful country. And we are enjoying every minute of it. I’ll be sure to mention to Sara that you enjoyed her photos. Thanks so much for stopping by—and hugs and love to you from us both!


  24. Absolutely gorgeous pics! I love the changing skyline. In Johannesburg we tend to have huge thunderstorms (often lightning) on summer afternoons, and for me it feels like home. I have never seen skies like that elsewhere in the world.


    • How wonderful to hear from you, Gertie. Hope you get to work a little less sometime soon.

      It’s fun to hear about your skies in South Africa. What you describe sounds similar to what we experience here. Though you’ve seen the skies in the Andes. Maybe they are not similar, at all.

      Hang in there, my friend, and enjoy your photography class. Thanks for stopping by!


    • Thanks so much, Andra. It is such a gorgeous country, one needs little skill to get a good photo.

      We hope you and MTM will come visit. Sara and he can talk architecture. We can chat about writing.

      By the way, I’m not a sit-still traveler either. I certainly can’t sleep on airplanes either.

      Great to hear from you. Hope your week is going well!


  25. I’m so enjoying your posts showing us bits of Ecuador and this one is my favourite so far. What a marvelous outing you had and a day spent with friends is always special, isn’t it? So many of the images you’ve posted here look like paintings Kathy!


  26. What a neat adventure, Kathy. You all look so happy and content. I love the grass — it’s so graceful and airy. I, too, have a penchant for falling and twisting my ankle and scraping my shins. Once, when working at the farm stand in Florida, carrying a pineapple in each hand, just as I was stepping out of the walk-in cooler, I twisted my ankle on the grooved floor and fell out of the cooler into the dirt, my first concern being not to drop the pineapples — naturally. My Carmen Miranda moment. Our sweet Mexican farm hand, Trino, saw me and grabbed the pineapples mid-air. I still have a scar on my shin from that incident.

    Whenever I visit a place, I like to go off and explore as much as I can, even loved doing that as a child — exploring fields, woods, and vacant old houses (in the days when it was safer to do so). Where clouds and weather change dramatically moment to moment is in the Eastern High Sierra Nevada Mountains. I loved watching the clouds and the sky up there.

    Of course, now a place to visit that’s on my bucket list is Cuenca. Love that you can catch a bus or a taxi within minutes and not have to worry about a car.


    • Sorry to hear about your pineapple incident. But, I have to chuckle, as well, since it sounds so much like me. I would have worried about the pineapples, as well.

      Glad to hear you, too, are an explorer–and that Cuenca is on your bucket list. I suspect you’d love it here!

      Gotta run–I can’t even begin to get into how busy our week is. I have NO time.

      I love hearing from you, Samantha!


  27. The scenery there is so beautiful! As I looked at all of your photos… the skies, the water, the landscape, the mountains … words like start, drastic and sharp kept coming to mind. And I really love the way the grasses lean to and fro.


    • Yes, I think those words describe well the landscape–especially at the higher elevations where there’s so much rock and gray sky. It’s extremely stark.

      Hope your week has gotten off to a good start, Terri. Mine has been insanely busy! Thanks for stopping by!


  28. In Calgary, skies are huge and ever-changing and LEGIBLE (meaning, I can see a cloud and know whether it means rain, snow, or just a cloud). In Victoria, though, the sky is totally different. It feels smaller and closer to the ground (some people even find it claustrophobic, but I find it cozy). The biggest difference between the two skies is the legibility, though. Maybe it’s because we’ve only lived here for seven years, but I still can’t decipher which of the grey clouds means rain. Sometimes, even BLACK clouds don’t pour down from the sky. They just glide past and reveal the sunshine again. This has real-world implications, especially during harbour season, where we never know if we should be packing up with the stealth and speed of a jungle cat or whether the clouds are just ‘overcast’, Strange…


  29. I love this post, Kathy. There are so many beautiful images. It’s difficult to pick a favorite. I also loved this: “Sometimes weather patterns accelerate these shifts, transforming the mood in a matter of minutes—overhead a youngster, blue-eyed and blonde, morphs into a brooding old man, graying and hunch-backed. He ages eighty years in less than as hour.” What a wonderful way to describe the sky and clouds. 🙂


    • Oh, thank you, Robin. I’m glad you enjoyed this one. The skies here are incredible, and Sara and I can’t stop watching the clouds. This trip into the mountains just a few minutes from Cuenca was one of my favorites since we arrived in Ecuador. Great to hear from you, Robin!


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