of Hacienda Pinsaqui
enjoys riding about on his chestnut Arab stallion inside his grand mansion. Don Pedro Freile, the oldest of three Pedro Freiles, has a habit of greeting guests in the living room, on horseback, and riding down the stairway to the bodega
bar to join them for an aperitivo
. There he has a tot or two in the saddle, rather in the style of a red-coated huntsman gathered with his hounds before setting off for the hunt.
One suspects there are many more stories like this about the habits of the landed gentry of Ecuador. The grand Ecuadorian haciendas were built, after all, for good living. The word hacienda
conjures up images of grand country estates, huge houses, cobbled courtyards, horsemen with wide-brimmed sombreros, masses of servants and old-fashioned luxury. And that’s exactly what haciendas are all about, except that today many of the grand Ecuadorian haciendas have become hotels and some of the old families are learning the tricks of the tourist trade.
There are several splendid haciendas within easy reach of Quito that you can either visit for a meal or stay for a night or more. Pinsaqui
an old mansion that reminds me of an Indian maharajah’s palace. It boasts enormous guestrooms, old-fashioned baths, beautiful furniture, fine gardens, ambling llamas and horses, and excellent food. Its walls are also thick with history: an important nineteenth-century treaty between Colombia and Ecuador was signed in the house, and "The Liberator", General Simon Bolivar
, was a frequent guest.