On the third weekend of San Juan festivities, I saw a poster for a celebration at Hacienda Galo Plaza, in the nearby pueblo of Zuleta.  This historic Hacienda is owned by the family of former Ecuadorian President Galo Plaza Lasso and they have turned it into luxury accommodations.  But at more than $250 a night, I figured I’d never see the inside.  Turns out, that the Hacienca 
opens its doors one day a year to celebrate San Juan, 
and I made sure I was there to join in the fun.

According to the Hacienda’s website, the Hacienda was a traditional working farm when it was sold into the Lasso family.  They supported modern agriculture and were the first to bring Holstein cattle, systematic seed selection and tractors to Ecuador.  This Hacienda was his showcase 
for these new technologies. 

The Hacienda is still a dairy farm and working ranch, but it is most famous for its cheese. 
The Zuleta Cheese Factory at the Hacienda

As it turned out, the public wasn’t invited inside the Hacienda buildings, but I was thrilled to see the gardens and the out-buildings of this beautiful and historic place.  And soon after my explorations, the party really got started.  Hundreds of Indigenous San Juan Dancers from all the surrounding barrios made their entrance into the Hacienda grounds and gave special presentations
and blessings to the Hacienda owners. 

Do you remember Lorena, and her nice family who befriended me in this same village a couple of weeks earlier?  Well, I ran into her again, and she introduced me to her niece and her friends.  They were so happy and welcoming, I ended up dancing with them the rest of the day.   
My new friends Anderson, Salo, Vero and Bryan.  I hope I get to spend time 
with them again in the future, they were so much fun! 

On this day, the circle dancing was entirely different again.  The music and singing was so high-spirited and the crowd surged together in such a tight circle creating a synergistic mosh pit.  The positive energy was intense, and to me, it was the best that San Juan dancing could be.

Go to onthewingadventures.blogspot.com to view the video below.

A cherished memory, and new friends – what a great day!