Saturday, March 19, 2011

Magical Ecuador and the Countryside Part II Also a fantastic Giveaway From French Basketeer

Our wonderful lodgings at Hacienda Cuisin, purchased from the King of Spain a year before Cervantes wrote Don Quixote, originally encompassed over 100,000 acres, north of Quito in the lush Andean highlands. At 8,500 feet with the predictable equatorial sun, and rich volcanic soils,  the owner, Nicholas Millhouse has resurrected this old world eden. It is a perfect refuge or staging area to explore the dramatic countryside. 

The beauty of colonial architecture lies within the flow of interior and exterior space. Courtyards and gardens alternate between verdant sanctuaries and cozy firesides. 

Nicholas Millhouse has created a delightfully eclectic mix of English comfort, Andean crafts and ecclesiastical arts. The famed Ecuadorean roses are splashed around every single room, as if they were daisies.  

Orchids and bromeliads bloom profusely in the branches of over 1000 varieties of trees on the estate. The garden is a horizontal and vertical experience. 

Dinner was actually growing in the morning from the Hacienda gardens. I love soup, an unworthy name for my favorite detectible course. The fresh vegetable soups in Ecuador generate swoons. I need to mention the juice. We have never heard the names, or tasted these fruits at our designer grocery stores. I thought every exotic fruit on the planet was within reach---so not true.  The fresh fruit juice is so delicious I could  become diabetic.

Over 60 species of flowers from all over the world are cultivated in the gardens. 

17th century,
horse and carriage trammelled cobblestones, lead us through a door in the wall. Before we pass, into the garden, we are reminded to consider its dynamic opposite.

Our host is an avid collector of textiles from all over the world. If you are a fan (Jane Schott, you know I mean you) you are in for a treat. 

You can write your first novel here, or visit the famed Otavalo craft market, a largely indigenous town in the Imbabura Province of Ecuador. The town, which is in a valley, is surrounded by the peaks of Imbabura 4,630m, Cotacachi 4,995m, and Mojanda volcanoes.

Ramelle Pulitzer of New View Tours, who planned and organized our trip shared this photo.

The people of Otavalo are famous for their sweetness, although I will say, you pass houses with bars on the windows, with walls and gates.  We were firmly instructed to hold on to our wallets, but for once in my life, I had no trouble.

I wanted to give you a bird's eye view of the this dramatic volcanic valley. 

PHOTO SOURCE: Patricio Ramon

Every inch of arable space is feverishly cultivated by the indigenous population. When I tell you these hillsides are steep, I am not kidding. We walked along the brittle edge of the caldera on the right hand side. I had to sit down and make contact with the earth to orient myself.

You can hike around the massive lake, in the eco preserve, formed by an epic volcanic explosion over 3,000 years ago. I know most of you will forgive me if we took the short hike (we were at an altitude of 10,200 feet here), and went shopping in the famous Cotacachi, the center of Ecuador's leather industry, which is known for its polished calf skins. The whole town is bags, shoes, coats etc.. The prices are terrific.

I collided with the fiesta! How adorable are these girls? I missed photographing the attentive nuns coaxing them through their performance.

Ramelle and Michael Pulitzer, our hosts at New View Tours,  introduced us to Miguel Andrango the master traditional weaver

The local flora and some fauna, provide the natural dyes for the hand carded and spun wool.

Miguel spins on the walking loom, made by his father.

The maestro at his craft

Miguel and his daughter Luz Maria stand in front of the beautiful woven textile I purchased. I am humbled by the painstaking dedication to the process of their traditional art. It takes two months to wash, card, spin, dye and weave this remnant of the past.  Our small group was touched by their kindness and patience, describing this dying art.

More lost arts can be found in the workshops of San Antonio de Ibarra.

The upscale Galeria Latina, in Quito, has an astonishing array of the Andean crafts. I lust for a collection of these bad boys!

Andrea of French Basketeer has a generous giveaway for our Readers!

Go to Andrea's website and choose your favorite bag!

Come back to Dovecote Decor and let us know by leaving a comment!

 Come back every time you tweet or share on facebook, and let us know,
it will increase your odds of winning.

Good Luck!!


  1. The pictures are incredible!

    And, I loved all the baskets - hard to pick one, but Dijon Natural was a favorite.

  2. Wow! With the exception of the walking and climbing, I would be close to heaven there. The work of these people is spectacular. The carving and weaving is amazing too. Ok, you get my gist; lucky you!
    Great giveaway! Love the Dijon Natural houndstooth and the Cannes orange.

  3. What a beautiful place to stay! Your entire trip is spectacular - beautiful, interesting and inspiring! Not that I would have expected anything less! I have just won 3 giveaways in a row so will leave the chance to some other worthy blogger to win one of Andrea's beautiful baskets!!

  4. Ecuador is not a place I have ever thought about visiting but I can see how beautiful and colorful the land and the crafts are. What a great trip you are having.

    Now for the baskets. Oh my to choose just one is hard, It is between the Marsailles and the Cannes yellow.
    All of them are just so beautiful. Thank you for even a chance to have such a lovely basket. Perfect for summer. Kathysue

  5. LIz.....Those doors....mottled blue walls...gardens...and the craftspersons...It's almost too much. I especially love the wood carvings. I'm un-flatteringly jealous of you right now. Oh was a beautiful day up here on the Redneck Riviera... ;) k
    P.S....the Marseilles bag is super-chic

  6. Not only is Ecuador magical but so is your post1 I truly want to visit there are so fortunate to have had such a wonderful guide, Ramelle did good! Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us.

    Fun giveaway! I loved the Aix...took me forever to pick, so many great choices.
    xo J~

  7. I have lots of other merch that is not on the website; I'll be sure to set the winner up with his/her perfect basket....

  8. I am entranced. This post made me feel as if I were actually with you. I now intensely want to visit Ecuador and Peru. The faces of these people--so peaceful and accepting of life. They seem to radiate a certain pride of place and a soul deep satisfaction. The photos are wonderful.--thanks so much for sharing.

  9. Gorgeous colorful post about Ecuador!! I really enjoyed it!!
    Wish you a lovely Sunday!!

  10. How spectacularly beautiful...the mountains in the midst behind the hacienda ~ amazing. Thank you for sharing all of this wonder.

  11. Liz how exciting a trip! It looks heavenly!So lush and green. The propery, the textiles!

    Andrea has been so good to me so don't enter me in her basket giveawawy!!She is the best though and has a great assortment!!

    Art by Karena

  12. I love the photos of the children! Cap Ferrat yellow is beautiful!

  13. Love St. Tropez Rose basket. I've been seduced by the Pantone Honeysuckle Rose "color of the year" and this is close to that color. What a great variety of baskets -- makes it hard to select just one.

  14. The pictures from Ecuador are incredible. What a wonderful trip! THanks for hosting the giveaway. I like the Grasse bag best, but they are all gorgeous.

  15. I am always grateful to see where the soul of a piece was born. Thank you for taking us along on your trip. I greatly enjoyed it!

  16. I am waiting for someone to go crazy over the Inca figures. Is it just me?? Thanks for all your comments.

  17. those woven sisals are delish, every single color!

  18. Thanks for taking us along on your trip...amazing.

    Cannes Yellow, love these bags.
    Karen at yahoo dot com

  19. Be sure to leave your e-mails, so I can contact you if you win!

  20. If it wasn't for you I wouldn't know how beautiful the people of Ecuador are. They've something really special in their eyes. I feel like being there, getting to know more about them, about their culture and learn with them.

    What a wonderful experience, Liz.

    Have a Beautiful Spring!


    Luciane at

  21. would love the Bandol for my weekly farmers market trips!

  22. Hi Liz, I just read your comment on my blog. Thanks for stopping by and I just posted this on my facebook page, It is a great giveaway!! Thankyou Kathysue

  23. Thanks for stopping by today. Amazing photos! I would choose the Cassis in any bright color -- I'm ready for some color :)


  24. Thank you for such a wonderful post about Equador
    I chose the black houndstooth tote should I be lucky enough to win this generous giveaway from French Basketeer. It was hard making a decision as all the products are great.
    I posted it on Facebook and Twitter too! Delores

  25. The basket is fabulous! What wonderful photos and interesting post!

  26. simply stunning...loved this post...really LOVED that vegetable garden...

    so HAPPY to see you at Farmhouse Kitchen today and HAPPY to stop by for a visit...i have been away way too long.....

    kary and teddy

  27. Catching up on
    your trip, and
    all I can say is,
    when does your
    coffee table book
    come out?? Lovely
    pics AND commentary,
    too! Thanks for
    taking us along.
    xx Suzanne

  28. LOVE the Grasse
    bag; just beautiful.
    Thank you and the
    French Basketeer for
    this lovely giveaway.
    Such a perfect tie-in
    to your trip series,
    xx Suzanne

  29. Tweet, tweet....
    I just tweeted on

    xx S.

  30. what beautiful photos! the one of the wooden angel is stunning!!! I even saved it to my desktop.

    Fun giveaway! I adore the Marseille!! I love French woven bags.


  31. What an amazing post! One of the best I have read in a long time. I loved all of your photos and the stories.
    The sound of 'dinner growing in the Hacienda gardens' had me sighing deeply. How absolutely gorgeous!

    The little child with the purple hood is just adorable and I was blown away by the way these people weave those beautiful textiles.

    What a place! Thanks for sharing and for taking time to stop by my blog as well. It's lovely that you came over and I hope you do so again.

    I have just become your latest follower.

    xx Charlotta

  32. what a fantastic trip you had... congrats!!!

  33. The large dijon rose is my favorite bag! Would love to have one of those. Seem so small compared to the amazing world you introduced us to in this post! XO, Kelly

  34. Lovely post and gorgeous photos! looks like you had an amazing trip.

    I love the Aix market bag. Thanks for the chance!

  35. BONJOUR! Thank you for visiting my blog! I remember seeing your a couple of times and loving your blog. WHAT FAB PICTURES Of a lovely people, a magical place and a world so far away and pristine....Please add me to your give away and MERCI!!!! Anita

  36. Oh my - so many beautiful pictures!

  37. Struck by all the beautiful colors in your photos!
    Also love the bags - great give away!
    Hard to pick a fav. Cap Ferrat Mango is fun!
    xo Cathy

  38. I had to come back to look at this post again to absorb all the lovely details!

  39. Hard to decide, maybe the Marseille. Thanks, Deb

  40. Your trip looks so interesting and enjoyable. So nice to visit somewhere so unique. On another note the Cannes Rose bag is my favorite. Have a great day and I really enjoyed your post.

  41. What an amazing trip! That garden, those structures, the people! Wow o wow!

  42. So are you saying we can't have them ALL??? LOL! I love Cassis Fresh Green!

    I am having a giveaway on my personal blog. One spot in the SPARKLES e-course. 31 days of creativity and inspiration! Send everyone over. xo tam

  43. This is the most beautiful place in the world ...

  44. Beautiful post! I just found you. I'm entering
    the contest. I love the Cap Ferrat Orange bag.

  45. Thank you for your sweet comment :) Loving your blog - following now!

    What a gorgeous post! These photos are amazing :)

    Hugs xoxo

  46. What beautiful pics from Ecuador...I'm lovin' the CASSIS ORANGE tote.


  47. Hi and thanks for visiting my blog and your sweet comments! Glad you found me so I found you! I am your newest follower too....great giveaway. I love the Eze bad, the natural with luggage colored trim, so chic.....glad to have found her site going to go back and look momre. This is a beuatiful post..having been to Ecuador and its beautiful was a memorable visit made even better by the warmth of its people. Wonderful country...and your pictures tell a beautiful story!

  48. I'm now following your blog:) By the is my favorite color!


  49. Fantastic shots....would love to be there.....xv

  50. What beautiful photos of a lovely land and it's people.
    The French baskets are gorgeous also.
    I love the Bandol basket.

  51. Thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me know about your divine giveaway!
    The Cannes Rose basket is to die for. I really had a hard time choosing.
    Have a fabulous day!

  52. I just Tweeted about the giveaway (fabulousfinds)

  53. Just tweeted about the divine giveaway!

  54. What an amazing trip! The photos are gorgeous. Adding Ecuador to my must-visit list!
    Have a wonderful weekend.

  55. such fantastic photos! the one w/the little girl wearing the beanie stole my heart for sure!!

    as for your amazing giveaway... i love the antibes teal! i love that they have large and xlarge. i always need a lot of space!

  56. ♥Love your blog♥

  57. Gorgeous! Beautiful photos!
    And a generous give away! I love the St.Tropez bag in Fuchia! So pretty!
    Cross my fingers!!!!

  58. What a wonderful and peaceful place this seems. The craftsmanship found there is highly impressive. Love all the bags.

  59. I loved this!
    I can just see myself there.
    Wearing white linen.

  60. What a beautiful place! Have a glorious day, Kellie xx

  61. I love the Marsailles with the African motif although I'm certain I would be very happy with any of them!

  62. hello elizabeth!
    came by to visit after your lovely comment on my blog and LOVE your blog!
    when my husband and i went to get to the galapagos....we just saw quito, the city we stayed in. your visit looks magically rich. thanks for sharing.
    i love the cannes green
    thank you

  63. I use my baskets ALL THE TIME! Beautiful blog! Can't wait for future posts.

  64. This will be a great spot for one of my next hiking trip. The lodgings are just beautiful. I love being in South America and has not visited Ecuador yet.
    I will be in High Point this week end, would love to get together if you are available!
    My email is, let me know if you ill be there and I will give you my cell. I will be staying near you at the Brookstone Inn in Winston salem on Saturday night.

  65. I love the Cannes orange!! This is my favorite give away and one of these days really hope to win. Will keep my fingers crossed and try to post it on the Interieurs face book page (if I can figure out how to do so..)


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