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Review not verified by RentalSystems* (Submitted: 6 Sep 2009)
We spent 10 days in Ecuador. We arrived on a Tuesday night and arrived at the villa at 12:15 Wednesday morning. Alberto, the caretaker met us at the airport. He spoke no English and I spoke rudimentary Spanish, barely enough to say a few words to get my ideas across. Alberto was very familiar with the roads and got us there without a problem. The language barrier did not become a problem.
The villa was well located. The distance from Quito was approximately 15 kilometers and took 30-35 minutes.
During our stay we went to one major location per day. First day was La Mitad del Mundo, where the equator crosses through Ecuador, This was located 15 miles north of Quito and took almost 1 hour. I was quite anxious the first day because Ecuadorean drivers are very aggressive. The roads, being in the Andes Mountains, are rather steep. People passed aggressively, pulled out for lane changes aggressively, and always exceeded the speed limit of 90 km./hr. After 2 days of driving I felt very comfortable and settled in nicely. We drove over 1500 miles during our stay. I would recommend renting a car and driving yourself only if you feel comfortable driving in large cities such as New York, Boston, or Washington, D.C. Another option is to rent a cab for $ 50 per day. They will take you anywhere.
One day trip included Teleferico, the gondola lift on the west side of the city, taking us up Mt. Pichinicha to 13-14,000 feet. Alberto accompanied us everywhere. It was his first lift ride ever. WE grew quite fond of Alberto. The restaurant at the top with the view is a must. We hiked about 1000 feet higher but one can hike for several hours to get to the top. Temperatures were in the 40s and the wind was very brisk at the top.
Another day we drove up Mt. Cotopaxi to 16,000 feet. That was the highlight of the trip. Highly recommended. On leaving Cotopaxi while on back roads, we came upon a beggar blocking the road with a large 9 ft. pole in his hand. Alberto told us that he wanted money. I gave him $0.50 and he acted like I gave him $ 500. His face lit up with gratitude. He placed his hands together as if in prayer to thank us.
The country consists of very poor and very well to do. There seemed to be few middle class.The poor live in houses that are similar to those I saw in Puerto Rico. The rich live in villas or haciendas with high walls and strong gates. At the top of the wall there are broken bottles cemented into the concrete to prevent climbing over the wall. In spite of this, my family and I felt very safe taking the 10 minute walk to the town square. At no time did I ever feel threatened or unsafe in La Merced. Chickens, dogs, and cows roamed freely on the streets. After a few days we became very accustomed to these things.
During mass on Saturday night a dog walked into the La Merced catholic church all the way to the front and sniffed the priest then found a cool place to settle onto the tile floor. Nobody batted an eyelash.
Quito itself had its rich areas but mostly was very poor. The historical areas were enchanting. Walking in daylight was safe except for pick pockets, something to be expected in any tourist area. At night the risk is too great. One is advised to take a cab in Quito even if it is only two blocks to your destination.
The villa was very nice. The kitchen was large, living room and dining room also very nice. Each bedroom was unique.
We did have two problems with the villa. There was a rooster on the grounds who crowed all night long. It bothered me the most because it seemed he was closest to my room. Because of this, sleeping pills are advised if you want good sleep. The other issue was that the dishwasher did not work but it was minor.
We grew very close to Alberto and his family. They were very friendly and helpful. One day I threw the ball with his children in the courtyard. They taught me to count to 100 in Spanish and I gave them the same lesson in English. My son played Michael Jackson songs for them on his Ipod. They were enthralled.
At night temperatures dro pped into the 50s. Each room had a fireplace to take the chill off. There is no heating or air conditioning because it is not needed. Daytime temperatures were in the low 70s.
Days and nights are 12 hours each. We watched DVDs from home to pass the nights until bed. TV was 100% in Spanish. No English. The DVDs are highly recommended.
I recommend this trip to anyone wishing for an adventurous trip to a third world country. Some days one can relax at the villa. Other days one can venture out to see the sights.
Our family will remember it for many years to come. I am interested in upgrading my Spanish perhaps for a trip at a later time.
Review not verified by RentalSystems* (Submitted: 24 Jun 2009)
In preparation for writing this review, I read some of the others to make sure that our experience was unique. All of the reviews seem to offer the same accolades and this one will simply add to it.
This was my first trip to Ecuador. I was a little apprehensive, and quite honestly I did not know what to expect. I think my anxiety was further heightened by our driver the night we flew into Quito ... I thought my father had a heavy foot, boy was i wrong. So after about 40 minutes we arrived in La Merced. We were beyond excited to be there, but exhaustion overtook curiosity. I think I fell asleep in the hammocks in the courtyard ... they just looked so inviting!
When morning came, I thought I was back on the farm ... it wasnt the beeping of an alarm clock ... but rather a rooster ... that coincidently woke me up at the same time every morning for 2 whole weeks. This was my time to explore! I wandered from room to room in this beautiful home. I lost count of the bathrooms after 3, the bedrooms after I picked mine. The kitchen was a dream, it was bright, functional and had just about anything you needed. The wrap around porch and the BBQ area is where we spent most of our evenings.
Alberto, the caretaker, and his wonderful family made us feel like we were at home. His children were an absolute delight, as we were missing ours. They were a little young to make the trip.
The quaint town of La Merced, was a bit of a culture shock for me ... but it grew on me. The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming. I think they enjoyed making a little fun of my horrible Spanish.
We enjoyed the friends we made, the places we visited, and most of all planning our return trip ... completed by bringing our children. Thanks so much for an absolutely incredible experience!
Review not verified by RentalSystems* (Submitted: 8 Feb 2009)
Sally from Vero Beach says, "The property is beautiful! The decor and gardens are spectacular. The day trip possibilities are endless with many interesting villages and cultural sites in the area. Much preferable to staying in Quito, but still convenient to everything in the city. The owners and caretaker went out of their way to ensure that our needs were met (two 80 year olds!) We recommend staying at Quinta La Merced, and plan to return for another visit soon. Thanks for a great vacation!
Review submitted by Beverly from California (Submitted: 8 Apr 2007)
Our experience at Quinta LaMerced surpassed our wildest expectations. We travel annually as a group to various parts of the world. This was the first time that the actual accomodations surpassed the the marketing brochure.
All of our needs were anticipated or quickly met. The town of La Merced was great and friendly. Even without a spanish speaker in our group we were able to enjoy all that the area had to offer at reasonable prices.
We plan to rent next year for two weeks.
Review submitted by Robert from South Orange, NJ (Submitted: 20 Jan 2007)
This beautiful, tastefully decorated property is well located for exploring the greater Quito area on day trips. At the beginning it was a challenge just to leave the property and the general area. The exterior grounds included a tennis court and a barbeque pit -- both of which our family party of six put to good use.
The interior is comfortable with many spacious bedrooms, (A group of ten is easly comfortable here.) Each bedroom has attached bath rooms that helps insure privacy and a good nights sleep. The dining room and living room contain fine examples of School of Quito art work. The kitchen and dining room make food preparation service very easy.
It is but a twenty minute cab ride to the spectacular San Lusis Mall which contains a mix of fancy stores, reasonably priced restraunts and the Super-Maxi -- a Walmart type superstore with groceries as their main offering It offers a wide variety of fruits vegatables,meats and beverages at low prices -- and it attracts Ecuadorans at all income levels.
I saved the best for last -- this home rental experience offers direct contact with native Ecuadorans. Alberto, the caretake lives on the property with his young familu -- he was very attentive to our needs including cab arrangemetns, local tour quides and friends who joined us for Christmas Dinner. Pablo Paz yMino, the renter of the property (and a native Ecuadforan who lives in the States) extended himself -- and engaged Quit based member of his family to graciouly assist us.
Two brief point of advice -- travel in Ecuador is greatly assisted by including a Spanish speaker in your party. Also, it is worthwhile to rent a car --especially an SUV -- for time effective touring.
Finally, do come and visit this beautiful country -- its Quintana's Andean setting and the Quito area San Fransico like climate is very plesant Warm water beaches and a tropical expereinces is available in less than a half hour'a planes ride way.
Educdor is a country of physical and ecomonic contrasts but it is a place where the family and family hospitality is warmly and universally availabe to those who welcome it -- and are willing to reciprocate.