This will be my last entry about the places that our family visited on our trip. I still have more stories to share about how we planned our accommodation, comparison costs per country, and what we are doing now, but the story of where we went and what we did and saw, is at its end. There are no more photos to inspire jealousy, and make you curse from your desk. If it is any consolation, we are back to the routine of sedentary life and I feel your pain. Instagram shots pop up on my Facebook feed, reminding me of where we were a year ago, and I can hardly reconcile those nomadic times with the Portland rain and school drop-offs. But, I get ahead of myself… Pushing melancholy aside, I want to sign-off on our saga, by telling you about the perfect way in which we ended our travels.
Thanks to word of mouth, we were let in on a secret. While hiking the Quilotoa loop with a European couple and another American family, we learned of a mystical destination called “The Secret Garden”. The family was headed this way for some R&R after our trek, and Nick and Sandra had also heard rave recommendations from a small handful of backpackers-in-the-know, and were trying to book their own stay. We soon discovered how popular the place was, as we were unable to confirm reservations for another week. The Secret Garden is a backpacker resort of sorts, located in the countryside near the active Cotopaxi volcano. Owned by an Australian man and his Ecuadorian wife, this was their second award-winning venture after running a successful youth hostel in Quito. It is an escape from the city (only two hours away) to an Andes landscape of horse-riding, dirt-biking, trout fishing, and strenuous hikes to waterfalls, glaciers, and mountain peaks.