October started out on one of the best notes possible. Family showed up on the 1st. Perfect.
With my birthday on October 3rd, we had LOTS of fun things planned.
(Please view the previous post for a full rundown of the day's events.)
I was completely blessed by all the thoughtful gifts that were given to me.
Some of the most indulgent:
1. My favorite Licorice from Trader Joe's
2. Magazines in English
3. Candles that smell like Salt Creek Beach summer days
4. New clothes (I haven't gone shopping in over 3 months.)
5. Incredible perfume (thanks to the hubby!)
6. A beautiful white Alpaca wool coat (that I'd been eyeing) that the Casa V boys pitched in to buy me. (The one gift that brought tears to my eyes. Thanks Boys.)
I decided that bowling would be the perfect birthday activity. Being the bowling is just right under soccer in popularity here, we settled for the only open bowling alley in Quito (of 2 in the city. The first was having the National Bowling Championship!)
Since family was here, we also had a great excuse for some amazing tourist activities throughout Quito, and beyond...
First - ride the bus. It's always an adventure, and unbelievable that they only charge you 25 cents for such an exciting ride!
Second - Pinchincha Volcano. This volcano is located just to the west of Quito. A few years back, the city hired a French company to build a gondola. Now, you can RIDE to the top of the mountain for only 3 dollars! It's gorgeous, cold, and full of open land for the boys to throw the frisbee around. Also, as a birthday gift to me, they had LLAMAS at the top of the mountain. These are currently my favorite animal - it was a special treat. How thoughtful of them.
As yet ANOTHER birthday gift, Russ and Janet (aka. the fam) took Jon and I out of Quito for a few days. This was a bigger blessing than we had imagined. Being out of Quito was (literally) a breath of fresh air. Being with family was just what we needed.
Russ braved Ecuador's roads and rented a car for the 3 hour drive to ARASHA. After an hour of "the scenic route" we finally drove out of Quito, through the middle of the world (where Russ and Janet thought they were the village chiefs), and DOWN, DOWN, DOWN into the jungle. Remember, Quito is located at nearly 10,000' elevation. We ended up at 2,000'. It was quite the drive. The flora and fauna that we drove through was breathtaking and unbelievable. We found leaves bigger than umbrellas, treetops that reflected the sun to look white, hydrangeas multiplying along the highway. Incredible.
We arrived at Arasha just before dark, checked in, and made our way to our personal cabana. What a gift. With dinner being all-inclusive, we ate like royalty. Steak one night, shrimp and salmon the next. We were truly indulged.
We hiked through the jungle (day and night), discovered glowing tree roots, swam in a river, hunted for frogs and GIANT ants, mini-golfed, and endured hour-long massages. This place allowed us to breathe deep and allow every thing of joy penetrate our souls. It was an experience we will not soon forget. Thank you to Mama and Papa.
After 3 days, we made our way back into town. We enjoyed one last dinner in La Ronda (5 minutes from Casa V) and sent Russ and Janet on their way back to California.
Thank you to everyone for the wonderful birthday wishes. It was truly one of the best yet.