The day started early with our usual fresh fruit, yoghurt and strong coffee served by the ever pleasant Maria. At 8 am we left the hotel for the long journey to Otavalo. On the way we saw miles and miles of greenhouses growing a large variety of roses. Our guide pulled over and bought a dozen white roses for the ladies of our group. The winding Panamerica Highway eventually joins the I-5 in the USA and flows through the 99 in Canada, all the way to Alaska. Because of all the volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, millions of dollars have been spent on reinforcing the mountainsides that bank the curvy roadway.

We made another stop to try some Ecuadorian biscuits and buy hand woven hats. The viewpoint from this little pit stop was very cool. The fields ran down hill in front of us and then scooped way up the other hillside which was clearly a volcano. We arrived at the Otavalo marketplace where we all picked up some souvenirs for our families and friends. Colorful alpaca and llama made scarves, ponchos, hats and blankets were in abundance and unbelievably inexpensive! There are so many variations in the culture in Ecuador. In Otavalo, they have a different way of dressing. Traditional clothing for women cost $200 USD in this region! The men wear their hair in a sort of braided ponytail and the punishment for many crimes is to cut the man's hair.

Lunch was served at yet another old estate, Pinsaqui Hacienda. It was founded in 1700 and once accommodated Simon Bolivar, the liberator of South America. (A rare claim!) The estate once sat on 1500 hectares and is now down to 10. You can stay at this lovely remote Inn and go horseback riding or enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

We got to work that lunch off with a steep climb to the 3500 meter high crater of Catacachi Cayapas. The lagoon in the crater was the second we visited during the day. These lovely bodies of water are lifeless! They have no rivers flowing to or fro and therefore no oxygen, no life. The known depth of this lagoon was 200 meters and its believed to be far deeper. The winding road home was a great time for siesta napping between peering out the windows to the Ecuadorian topography and life.