top of page

An Ecuador Journey — Cotacachi and La Mirage Hotel and Spa


We interrupt this trip to India to bring you a brief from the diametric hemisphere (that’s something like the Twilight Zone, but in color and with better food).

I’ve started this entry as I lounge on a  tiny couch perched in front of a crackling fireplace, the only source of heat in my room at the magical La Mirage Garden Hotel, a Shangri-La high the Andes in the small “leather” village of Cotacachi, Ecuador.

Cotacachi is about two hours north of the capital of Quito in the Province of Imbabura, and at an elevation of 8,000 feet nests in a valley between the volcanoes…Cotacachi and Imbabura. This is not a coincidence or lack of imagination, it’s a naming convention:  the towns here are typically named after the highest volcano that overlooks them; the Province is named after the second highest.

Mt. Imbabura, being shy.


La Mirage Garden Hotel & Spa is the only Relais & Chateaux hotel in Ecuador, and houses the first resort spa in the country. It defines its name, appearing like a vision behind a delicately wrought iron gate, at the end of a rough but charming cobblestone street lined with block houses and small plots of farmland.


The rooms here are named after birds or flowers to be found in Ecuador – and with the exception of the Toucan, I think I’ve seen or heard every one on this property: Hummingbird, Finch, Swallow, Cardinal. Bird of Paradise, Hibiscus, Fuchsia, Daisy.  My room is called Rosa, and from the bower outside my door, to the sweet pink bedspread, to the bouquet of blooms and the chocolate nestled in a candied rose petal, it lives up to its name.


This will be my home for five nights. It’s like sleeping in heaven, right down to the angel floating above my head. I, too, am wondering I’ve done to deserve such good fortune. You can talk to your therapist about it and I’ll talk to mine.

I hadn’t exactly planned to visit (for the first time) two different countries on two different continents within three weeks of each other, but I guess that’s the point.

My Year of Living Spontaneously has had benefits that I could not have imagined. The one and only downside to all this gallivanting is that it takes a lot of pre-planning and requires a lot of rest and recovery time on the back end. This sometimes manifests itself as neglect of family, friends, pets, and exercise. Both the India and Ecuador trips have been workshops (photography and writing), and as I’ve actually been trying to study, practice and process what I’ve learned, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to simply share my adventures and/or actually write or take pictures. But this trip, concentrating on spa health writing, has been an outstanding learning experience with a group of fascinating and inspiring women, and has given me an incredible new focus for my work. A chocolate body treatment and Shamanic Purification ceremony will do that to a girl.

Pathway to pampering

I’ve been safely back in my own nest for just over a week and am slowly recovering from La Mirage’s three-course meals and Thanksgiving leftovers (although I still have about three pounds of Ecuadorean chocolate in my cupboard).  I enjoyed my first visit to South America and it’s been fascinating to compare it to India while that experience is still very fresh in my mind. The trip was both memorable and meaningful and I’m looking forward to sharing stories and pictures of this beautiful property (and its stunning sister in Quito), truly interesting country and its absolutely lovely people.

And while I’m sure I’ll return to South America many times (The Galapagos! Argentine wineries! Machu Picchu!), it’s India that I MISS. While the peacocks in the gardens at La Mirage were strutting like showgirls and playing coy as I chased them with my camera, I was longing for their native home.

Posing for a cross-stitch.

I hope to return soon, to see India’s peacocks walking the walls of medieval-era ruins and strolling past jungle temples, their missing monsoon feathers again restored to a glorious train of a hundred dazzling eyes.

Ranthambore Fort, Rajasthan, India


N E V E R  M I S S  A  P O S T

Thanks for submitting!

bottom of page