The word was out on the gringo circuit: In the small mountain town of Chugchilan there would be a Thanksgiving feast to be remembered.
Holiday feasts had been a mainstay of our group house in Seattle, and as Thanksgiving approached, so too did feelings of homesickness. Short of heading back to Seattle, it seemed that a journey to Chugchilan would be our best bet of a home-cooked Thanksgiving feast.
The days leading up to Thanksgiving had been spent tramping through the Andes looking for Carihuirazo, known as the sister mountain to Chimborazo. The weather was foggy and our mountain didn't cooperate by being where it should have been. It was a mixed blessing, however, as we walked for two days in our search through incredible canyons and mountain scenery.
Finally arriving back on the PanAm highway we loaded our tired bodies into the rickety school bus that would take us to Chugchilan. Our destination was the Black Sheep Inn. Run by Michele and Andrew, two American expats in their thirties, the Inn is an idyllic mountain retreat on one of Ecuador's more scenic loop roads. Our bus hugged the side of the canyon as we wended our way through small indigenous settlements and ever deeper back into the mountains. After three hours of tight switchbacks and hairpins turns the bus suddenly stopped. A small sign by the roadside indicated that we had arrived at our destination.
We were a group of 15 gathered for the feast. Steve, another climbing friend from Quito, was there, as were a few local Ecuadoreans with their kids. A sumptuous spread was laid out before us. Mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and, of course, the bird. The feast had lived up to our expectations. And although our memories still stirred with thoughts of our "family" back in Seattle, somehow everything was a little better was our full stomachs.