Otavalo - Retreat #1

Two weekends ago, all of us PDs packed up our things, closed the library early for the week and took off for Otavalo in the mountains of Ecuador for our first retreat. Sadly, Brock was in Miami and couldn't be with us for the weekend but we made do without him (thank goodness nothing broke and needed fixing). Our first day was spent mostly in the leather markets of Cotacachi - three of us even have new leather jackets to show for it. We were able to see Peguche Waterfall and hiked around for a while - Luke, Jack and I found a great cave at the top of the falls but dared not enter.

Peguche Waterfall

Friday night we went to a nice dinner in Otavalo and then took a long and bumpy taxi ride up to our hostel. The next morning we were able to really appreciate the views that our hostel had to offer - it was gorgeous. Situated between two mountains with fields of green patchwork on all sides of them, we had a truly picturesque view (thank you Zoe!).

View from the hotel

Saturday we woke up early for breakfast of bread and tea and headed to one of the largest animal markets in Ecuador. After gawking at hundreds of chickens, angry cows and some of the largest pigs we have ever seen, we headed to the artisan market.
Debating whether or not to purchase "crunchy" overall shorts and creepy masks, we finally settled on some purchases, ate lunch and left for La Laguna Mojanda.
Bibi worked her magic and found us a camioneta willing to take us to the top of the mountain to see La Laguna. It took us about an hour and halfway through the skies opened up and freezing cold rain started to fall on us in the back of the camioneta. Our nice driver offered us a tarp and we decided to grin and bear it. The Laguna was absolutely gorgeous and worth the frigid rainfall we endured to get to the top. Jack and I decided to take off on a two hour long hike to get to the top while the rest of the group hiked around the perimeter of the lake. Although we didn't see much from the top, the hike itself was amazing.

La Laguna Mojanda

The Mountains around La Laguna that Jack and I climbed

Jack and I halfway up the mountain!

Dinner never tasted so good. We ate at the hostel and then hung out in their common area drinking wine, playing ping pong and singing along to jack's incredible guitar skills.

Sunday came too fast but we made the most of it by taking a long hike to El Lechero (the healing tree of Otavalo). Even though people told us that it was just up the way, we ended up hiking for a good hour and a half before we found the beautiful old tree. We took turns resting and hugging it (especially Ashley with her hurt ankle) and then hiked back down to catch our bus back home.
Overall, the trip was amazing. It was relaxing and fun - exactly what we were hoping for in Retreat #1!

The group (minus Brock) at Otavalo!

3 more to go!
Besos Chao Chao