There’s a sheep named after me (Peta) in the Andes mountains

What might have been a primarily business-driven get together with a well known bamboo expert morphed into a highly enjoyable escapade in the Andes mountains an hour South of Quito. As we write this, the logs are burning in the fireplace, the llamas are sleeping a few feet away outside, the sheep have quieted down for the night. One of these sheep is my namesake — Peta, as it was born just after we met Peggy 2 years ago.

We first met Peggy in Pueblo, Mexico at our first bamboo conference. She is a leading authority as a botanist on tropical forests and is in much demand from governments and global NGO’s as a consultant in the field of forest management. We were fortunate to have her help CO2 BAMBU in the early days when we wanted to understand the quality and geography of bamboo in Nicaragua. Since then, Ben and Peggy have stayed in touch by email, and when she heard we were finally coming to Ecuador, Peggy invited us to come and visit at her home and spend the night.

The snow-capped mountain of Cotopaxi dominates the landscape. A lamb is stretched spread eagled on iron stakes close to a fire and is slowly cooking. A British marine biologist is taking great care and pride in cooking the lamb, “Pepito”, Patagonia style. He tells us that it is going to take five hours of slowly marinating and turning the lamb.

Eighteen people (most of them mountain climbers) are coming for lunch in a few hours!

Two llamas, one beige and one black are curiously checking us out from not too great a distance.

Peggy gives us a tour of the property. The sheep are thirsty and need water and shade as its midday now. Ben gets to open the door and one huge guy is followed by a few others, including a baby of two weeks old. A total of seven sheep, with potential for more, as well as a bunch of hens that provide fresh eggs.

The property is surrounded by mountains and the view is phenomenal!!

The house has huge Guadua bamboo poles, three tied together to become the house’s primary pillars. They look great combined with recycled wood floors, and thick adobe walls. The design of the house optimizes the 360 view through large windows in all the rooms. Best of all there are no interior walls, so it feels like a multi leveled loft.

I was not sure if I was going to eat Pepito for lunch. Perhaps it was Peg’s email when we arranged the logistics “Great you are coming to the house Sunday, we will have a big feast – poor Pepito!” However, as I watch the pride that is taken in cooking it, I start to reconsider. People are now hovering over the fire with great anticipation. Sausages and vegetables are cooked on the grill as well as lots of other culinary distractions. But of course, the lamb is center stage. When Ben has his first bite, I know that there is NO way I am not eating any of this. I join the carnivores. Let me just say, this is THE most delicious meat I have ever eaten in my life. Juicy, tasty and crispy skin. We eat till we cannot eat anymore. Then we have a few more bites by cutting directly from the fire pit.

The weather could not have been better. Ecuador is, as the name implies, on the Equator, which means it is Spring-like all year around. After the succulent lamb, we lie on the lawn in the sun, and eat delicious homemade macadamia pie made by the wife of a well known Ecuadorian photographer. Our itinerary for the next few days is planned by the Brit’s wife, a deep sea diver and marine biologist as well, who now has an adventure travel business. There is so much to do and see in this area, that with three more days we know we have to select carefully. Another photographer guest has brought his visiting parents along, who are farmers in Cuenca. The mother has long white braids and wears traditional dress from her region.

We end our day in front of the fire in our own stone house.

Can’t wait to see the view out the window again when we wake up!

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