Ranch & Coast Magazine

April 2023

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Page 75 of 91

Herrera also had the inside scoop on genuine Panama hats. ey're made of toquilla palm, and the very finest ones are handcrafted by artisans in the small Ecuadorian town of Montecristi. Beyond Quito In addition to sharing their knowledge, most private guides also provide transportation, which is great because it's hard to savor the surroundings while trying to read a map and drive safely. We walked around Old Town Quito with Herrera, but she drove us to the Mindo Cloud Forest, which is about 60 miles from the city. is scenic area has a unique ecosystem that's known worldwide for its biodiversity and birding. Here we walked through a beautiful jungle-like forest and rested in front of a waterfall. Yumbos Chocolate was our delicious second stop. This small artisanal factory offers tours and tasting of their delectable products. We also visited a butterfly sanctuary, and on the way home we stopped at the equator line and stood with one foot in the northern hemisphere and the other in the southern. Old Town Quito e city's historic highlights surround Plaza de San Francisco, a cobblestone expanse fronted by the Church and Convent of San Francisco (Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco). Here, we climbed the stairs to the top floor and enjoyed the panorama across this UNESCO World Heritage destination. e view included our hotel, the gorgeous Casa Gangotena, once the mansion of a local family. We also toured the Jesuit Church of the Society of Jesus (Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus), with its massive gold altar. I appreciated Herrera's information on the sights, and I was grateful for her familiarity with local restaurants. Over the course of several days, she steered us to the most memorable meals of the trip. Lunch on our first day was at La Vid Restaurante in the Bishop's Palace overlooking Independence Square. I thoroughly enjoyed the local specialty Locro de Papa QuiteƱo, creamy potato soup made with cheese and avocado, and Richard loved the La Vid lamb stew, which was slow cooked and accompanied by steamed potatoes, yellow rice, and avocado. His dessert, Paseo Por Los Andes, consisted of soft purple corn sable pastry with babaco cream and cabernet sauvignon maillard over a white wine emulsion. << >> PHOTO COURTESY OF ADAMS / HANSEN PHOTOGRAPHY ranchandcoast.com 76 APRIL 2023 RANCH & COAST MAGAZINE

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