We have a small country property in Guayllabamba, a beautiful, and very green valley 29 km north of Quito. It’s claim to fame is that it houses the Quito ecological zoo, and on weekends the town overflows with visitors to the zoo and to the many restaurants offering typical highland food. During the rest of the week things are pretty quiet. We don’t get down there as often as we would like, but this morning my mom and I decided to zip down to check on our litle “country estate.” Ehem. Cough. Anyway, what a lovely day.
The Guayllabamba valley lies about 300 m lower than Quito – after a 45 minute drive (it isn’t that far, but the traffic out of the city is horrific) from a cold and gray capital city, when we arrived in Guayllabamba it was hot and dry. What a blessing to live in this tiny country with such a wide variety of ecosystems!
Our house lies in the quietest part of this rural community – right next door to the cemetery. The place looks like a jungle (we like it that way!), with lots of flowers – mainly wild – several chirimoyas and over 30 avocado trees. We have three different varieties of avocados – our favorite, of course, is the “guatemalteco”: enormous, almost the size of cantaloupes, and so buttery it melts in your mouth.
I also picked my kids’ favorites: pungent limes and the largest, sweetest, most mouth-watering lemons you could imagine. Both oh, so fragrant!
The Christmas poinsettia planted a couple of decades ago has now become a tall tree.
And one of my favorite flowers, the morning glory, grows like wild all over the place. We also have several magnolia trees. One of them had several flowers – unfortunately so high up I couldn’t get a good picture, although the fragrance is unmistakable. I did find a low bud, though. In a couple of weeks this should be a lovely flower.
On the back side of the house, some bright red hibiscus flowers.
The surprise of the day, however, was to find these orchids growing on one of the avocado trees. Although orchids are very common in the subtropics, Guayllabamba tends to be too dry. This is the first time we have seen orchids, so we were absolutely delighted with these beauties.