Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Seminars in the Sun

My sister, Julia, also loves to travel to new and exotic places. She's quite far ahead of me in the number of countries visited, whereas my husband and I have often returned several times to a favourite place. We've found that's a great way to really experience a place, to get to know local people and attractions.

So, following our arrival home after our first Ecuador trip last February, we raved about our experiences to anyone who would listen. My weaver friends were gaga over the tapestries, shawls, and tagua nut jewellery I brought home. In fact, selling some of my treasures to them helped to pay for the trip.

Well, Julia was one of those who listened, and before long, she and I decided to leave husbands at home and attend an Import/Export seminar in Cotacachi, Ecuador at the end of April. She has been an entrepreneur all her working life, and is a very successful businesswoman. We both loved the idea of importing some of the lovely crafts, and finding markets for them in North America. We had a wonderful trip, learned a lot about what and how to import, and came home with suitcases full of wonderful 'stuff'. (We'll save that for a future post)

Of course, I again raved about our experiences, and before long, had two friends who wanted to be in on our next adventure. So, I arranged a trip for the four of us - set up the travel, booked the hotels, and planned a side trip with my favourite Ecuador tour company (have a look at Ecuador Amazing and their offerings).

We spent 16 days just travelling around, visiting historic sites with our bilingual guide, basking in the sun, visiting craft markets, and eating great seafood (no Cuy for us - for those of you who don't know, that's roast guinea pig, a local delicacy).

We visited Quito, Mital del Mundo, Riobamba, Cuenca, Chordeleg, Otavalo, Cotacachi, and places in between. And in Cotacachi (the leather workers town), we all found it necessary to buy new leather expandable suitcases (under $50) to bring home our treasures.

While Julia and I attended a seminar on International Business for three days, our two companions spent some blissful time in the local spa, La Mirage. Bathing in lavender or rose petals may not be for everyone, but they both came back absolutely delighted with their experience.

La Mirage, (http://www.mirage.com.ec) located in Cotacachi, is a contemporary hotel and spa built on the grounds of a 200 year old hacienda. The spa offers 17 different treatments, the newest being a chocolate - yes, chocolate - massage and treatment! That is my choice for my visit next month!

My next post will be from Ecuador. I'll keep you posted.