We met with our bikes in Caranqui Park, south of Ibarra, on route to Zuleta. We were 12 riders among experts and amateurs like me, and with our departure, we started to see the sunrise from behind the mountains. The climb through La Esperanza is quite demanding which caused us to warm up right away. The road is narrow and on the sides we were accompanied by beautiful traditional houses with flowers on their balconies that transmit to us that warmth typical of the families from Ibarra.
Entering the parish of Angochagua, our environment changed and now the daylight allowed us to see the green patchwork of the mountains that accompanied us, it seemed that someone had embroidered a beautiful blanket and placed it on the mountains; and this image confirmed that we were on the route of the textiles, because it is known that here beautiful rugs and garments are made by hand with vivid colors and details of the creativity of their people, surely inspired by the stunning landscape that fosters them.
The smell of fresh grass and a slight mist opened up in our way, along the route of the haciendas, suddenly some strong fighting bulls proudly standing at the top of the hill gazed at us and we notice the thick adobe fence that separated us which made us feel safe. We slowed down our pace to appreciate the cows, sheep, horses, and a few dogs that barked at us as if they wanted to tell us about their life and their adventures in this their home.
We stopped to hydrate, already a little breathless by the exercise, but also by the beauty of our surroundings and the captivating silence of the valley, which was only interrupted by its fauna that began to awaken. The paved road was in perfect condition, there was almost no traffic and the level was quite easy for an inexperienced biker like me. The twelve of us advanced on par and made short stops every 5 kilometers of the 18 we had to travel.
We were on the province limit of Pichincha and Imbabura, passing Zuleta, and the smell of bread recently made in a wood-burning oven was beginning to envelop us, we looked at each other in complicity with the desire to make a well-deserved stop for breakfast. We entered a small house by the roadside. Our fellow experts who travel this bike route more often knew that Doña Maria Rosa would prepare the best delights obtained directly from the field. We were able to delight with coffee and freshly drawn milk, scrambled eggs, blackberry jam from the surrounding haciendas, and that delicious hot bread with a layer of “nata” cream. This same place will become at lunchtime one of the best places to eat a delicious roast lamb, typical of the area.
When we left, while riding our bikes again we were able to see some tolas inside the haciendas around us, they were of different sizes and could almost go unnoticed if not for the similar shape that characterizes them and that mysticism of having belonged to other cultures hundreds of years ago with hidden messages from their social organization and their permanence in time.
Two hours later we were close to Olmedo, our arrival point, not without first straying along a very arduous slope that would lead us to the viewpoint where we could appreciate the Sacred Valley of the Rainbows. From here, we could see how the sun fills the valley with light behind the Imbabura volcano and next to the eastern mountain range. We silently contemplated this place where the rainbow is said to rest, but it is also a place where condors fly freely and their sighting is feasible. We weren’t lucky enough to see them, but we were invaded by the magic and peace this site produces. We understood why they call it sacred, only by contemplating it touches your heart and you feel part of its magic; in the end, maybe the rainbow is the one that resides inside you.