April 19 – 21: Patricia, Stuart, Peter, Jacob and Nadine White graciously invited us to spend a weekend in their farm in Canar about three hours away. Patricia and Lisa have become friends while serving as class parents at Santana where Rachel and their son, Peter, are in the same class. Stuart, a US American, has lived in the Andes, his passion, for the last 35 years. An adjunct professor at the University of Vermont, he is a wealth of knowledge and experience. We could not have asked for better hosts and guides! Their 1,800 hectares are mostly wild and serve as pasture for their 800+ alpacas (Stuart is responsible for reintroducing the alpaca to the Ecuadorian Andes). The views are absolutely breathtaking and he is quick to point out the Canari villages and agricultural terraces that once inhabited his land hundreds and hundreds of years ago. Shards of ceramics are all over and his personal collection of Canar artifacts rivals some of the museums we have been to.
Stuart acted as our guide on, what turned out to be, a five+ hour hike around part of the property. We hiked on a new “trail” – having to grab whatever branches we could in order to make it through some of the more precarious parts of the hike. We found pottery, made a fire, saw evidence of bear feeding, roamed with alpacas (of course!) and got downright filthy in the mud. We were exhausted and happy at the end of the trail. The best part, as the kids agreed, was that it was like camping with friends apart from having some really comfy beds to which we could return (not to mention a sauna and Jacuzzi tub!).