How we came to be here...
Posted by: Jim / Mar 23, 2010
Guests at our hotel frequently ask my wife and/or me how we came to be here, and how we like it. Sometimes Marshia answers, sometimes I answer, whichever is handy. Sometimes I say "It's her time to answer that." Sometimes she says "It's his time to answer that." And everyone laughs.
Eruption! Volcán Tungurahua, 2006
Posted by: Jim / Apr 2, 2010
I feel the detonation, deep and powerful, twice: once heading toward the mountains across the Pastaza Valley and again on its return, echo merging with the final wave from the source.
Again, air and earth rumble, reverberating a third time from the bluffs behind the hotel until the familiar sound of the waterfall returns. I wait for the next explosion...
La Cascada Brewery
Posted by: Jim / Apr 22, 2010
WIth the help of my long-time friend, Michael Burton, a brewmaster from Chicago, we are experimenting with brewing our own beer for sale in our restaurant. Michael put together a small home-brew setup, we had other friends bring hops from Chicago, and we ordered barley malt from a brew-pub in Cuenca.
So far we have brewed and bottled 3 batches, and the results are excellent! Our bottle label is shown at left. (We had to get permission from the local priest to use the image of the virgen.) Our first brand is "Throat of Fire Pale Ale." (Our nearby volcano, Tungurahua, means "Throat of Fire" in Quechua.) We just bottled our 4th batch, a porter we are tentatively calling "Peregringo Porter."
Update! After bottling, and opening the first few porters, we have renamed the "Peregrino Porter" to "Eruption! Porter." Take a look at this dramatic video
and you will know why!
We will brew our 5th batch this week. It will be an amber ale called "Atahualpa's Gold."
(You can read more about the brewing operation at Michael's blog entries: here
Posted by: Jim / Apr 23, 2010
We have recently purchased the adjacent property and are renovating an existing building to create six new rooms.
There will also be an outdoor beer garden/restaurant and a play area for children. We expect all to be ready for the high tourist season here which begins in July.
more>> Includes updated photos as of July 20!
Going to Portland!
Posted by: Jim / May 4, 2010
Alberto Soriano is the most popular artist in our gallery. In 2006, and again in 2008, we took him to a gallery in Chicago for exhibitions, which were quite successful.
Now, thanks to one of our recent guests, Greg Fowler, we will be taking Alberto to Portland, Oregon. Greg had a contact with Onda Gallery
. We contacted the curator, Allan Oliver, and he agreed to a month-long exhibition opening June 24. We are looking forward to meeting the other artist in the show, Joan Darling.
I am also looking forward to some serious single-track mountain biking and micro-brew drinking.
You can get a glimpse of what will be in the show at www.claudioalbertosoriano.com
. If you know any other galleries which may be interested in his work, please let us know.
Pilsener Move Over!
Posted by: Jim / May 23, 2010
As you can see, our home-brew product is gradually nudging out Pilsener, the National Mediocre Beer of Ecuador, in our beer cooler. Our latest is "Atuahualpa's Gold," a medium-bodied, assertively
hopped golden ale, inspired by the lost treasures of the Inca. Hotel guest Joanie McPhetridge, of Oklahoma City, OK was one of the first to try it, and, as you can see, she definitely approves! We capped 24 bottles and 2 days later they were all sold. Our neighbor hotel, Casa del Abuelo, sells them as fast as we can deliver them. Looks like there's something brewing here!
Posted by: Simon / May 25, 2010
Hey! How come that big two-legger Jim (or, "Don Jaime" as he likes to be called here) gets to make all the posts? What about me? I know more than he thinks about what's going on here.
Let me introduce myself. I'm Simon, the hotel dog. If you have been here I'm that little curled-up white and brown ball on the sofa that you may have mistaken for a pillow. Marshia brought me from Chicago so I have been here as long as they have.
"Don Jaime" is nice to me (most of the time) but I have to admit I'm a one-woman dog so when Marshia's away all I do is lay on the couch waiting for the sound of her bicycle coming in the door.
I hear Marshia mixing up my food now, so gotta go, but I'll be making more posts. So bookmark this page and come bark, I mean back, soon.
Posted by: Simon / May 29, 2010
Dog-gone it! I hate it when that volcano erupts! When I heard the booming I buried myself in the bed covers, like I always do.
It started early yesterday morning and I hear they temporarily closed the road from Ambato, and evacuated some people (and their dogs, I assume) from the other side of the mountain. But, aside from the rumbling, everything seems normal here.
In fact, last night, there was a going-away party for Michael and Gin, good friends of Don Jaime and Marshia. They drank and ate and enjoyed themselves despite the occasional window-rattler (while I was curled up, unnoticed, on the couch). I think they even played "Volcano" by Jimmy Buffett. Are they crazy, or what?
I don't know much about blogs other than this one, but you can read about their last day here
if you're interested.
Of course, when I growl, it's nothing compared to the volcano, but now I'm getting used to it, and am not afraid to go outside to "do my business."
I'm beginning to think this Volcano Tungurahua is like one of those town street dogs: all bark and no bite. I should know, right?
Posted by: Jim / July 9, 2010
Between the years 1993 and 1997, I wrote and performed poetry in Chicago under the stage name "Vernon Lee," and for the last 2 of those years, hosted my own spoken-word poetry venue in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood.
The poems were usually given from memory at weekly readings in (mostly) bars around town. I performed regularly at the well-known Uptown Poetry Slam at the Green Mill.
Here is a selection
of my work.
Posted by: Marsha Barton / July 18, 2010
Comment: wow. this is the most incredible place ever. the city is amazing, the people are extremely friendly, honest and hard working people, the bike rides are some of the best i have ever ridden (and i have ridden many places in the last 10 years) but posada del arte stands out in my mind everytime i think of banos. its just the coolest place to stay by far. the artwork is just gorgeous, i am still craving the huevos rancheros, and jim and marsha are great at making you feel right at home. i have planned another trip there in october and i am sure there will be more to follow. AWESOME
Posted by: Jim / July 19, 2010
We are pleased to welcome our son, Jason, and his childhood friend from Chicago, Tim, to our hotel for a couple of months. Jason is a gourmet cook, with 10 years experience in California and Chicago. His mission here is to "stir things up" (so to speak) in the kitchen and create new dishes. So far, he has lived up to expectations, with a new "Chef's Special" every night, and is getting rave reviews. He is also learning traditional Ecuadorian dishes from our staff. Tim is helping in the kitchen, doing maintenance around the hotel, learning Spanish at a local school, and has recently become brewmaster of our micro-brewery.
The Blue House Up and Running!
Posted by: Jim / August 8, 2010
After 4 months of construction, we finally opened The Blue House last week, and it has been just about full ever since!. It has 6 beautiful rooms, some with mountain views, some with garden/patio views, and some with small wrought-iron balconies reminiscent of Colonial Quito architecture. One room has a jacuzzi, and one is wheel-chair accessible. The windows and doors were custom-made by a master carpenter in Ambato, and the beds from Huambalo, a town nearby famous for its hand-crafted furniture. I want to thank Wouter Steffalaar, our contractor, and his whole crew. Also, my wife, Marshia, for having the concept of the blue house to begin with, as well as many other esthetic decisions. All in all, this is a special and unique place in Baños, even if I do say so myself.
Posted by: Simon / August 15, 2010
Last night Byron came by to play in the dining room. He is a local young man who used to work for Don Jaime as a waitperson, but has now become quite a classical guitarist. Here's the view from my place on the couch. I'm not too much into Ecuadorian classical, but there was a nice lady petting my head the whole time, and I was by a cozy, dog-friendly fire. Not a bad life for a dog, right?
Another side of Marshia!
Posted by: Jim /November 10, 2010
She loves to work with broken ceramic pieces. Last year she created some beautiful designs for the floor of our front porch, and is currently creating round stepping stones (or, in this case, "jumping" stones) for the new garden between Posada Classic and The Blue House. She uses simple, readily available, and some recycled materials. She says "It appeals to my desire to live simply and leave a small (ceramic) footprint, and gives me a creative break from hotel management duties."
Tungurahua's December Surprise
Posted by: Jim / Dec. 7, 2010
Around 9am Dec. 4, our staff began getting calls from friends and family about "the volcano" as we say here. I saw them whispering among themselves. Something was up, I figured.
We've been there before (see "Eruption" above). I went out into the street and looked up at the usual place, over the ridge. Too cloudy to see, but no booming. I checked my seismograph, and it was detecting some unusual seismic activity. (Our neighbor across the street recently remodeled his house. For front windows he installed one-way glass. When we look, we can see our entire hotel reflected, including ourselves and anyone else standing outside. These vibrating mirrors make great seismographs. This morning I saw myself shaking.)
Another indicator is our canary-in-the-coal-mine, Ximena Guevara, owner of our neighbor hotel, El Marques. She is always the first to leave when the volcano starts to perform, heading to her sister's hotel in Rio Verde. Sure enough, she was getting into her car, so I thought maybe it was time to be concerned. I went to the local radio station's (El Sanctuario) streaming website and there were authorities talking instead of the usual stupid ads. MMmmm...well..
They were saying that around 8:30am the volcano had begun to display some unusual behavior. I rode my bike over to the bridge to see for myself. Sure enough, the thing was popping. Literally. Small bursts of very high energy emissions coming from the northwest rim of the crater. Accompanying each explosion were "waves" but I swear I couldn't tell if they were light waves or sound waves. Maybe both, or something in between. I could also see the smoke trails of pyroclastic material descending the NW flank. The issue, of course, is always how far down the flank is the stuff reaching. During "normal" eruptions, it descends maybe 1000-1500m. Beyond that, at 2500m or so, it may start reaching inhabited communities. In 2006 it reached all the way to the Pastaza River.
I came back to the Streaming Sanctuary. The mayor was at "The Pajaros" (the customary location of pyroclastic flows) talking. I picked up a few words here and there...'to close the road or not...Policia nacional...Red Cross... Civil Defense...wait til we hear from 'el geofisico' (the scientists)... tranquilo...no pasa nada..no evacuation.." and so forth.
Back at the hotel, guests were curious but there was no panicked exit as in 2006. In fact, all seemed normal. Of course, it is our responsibility to inform guests as to what is going on, and we did, giving them the option to leave if they desired. No one left.
By noon, the activity level was not diminishing, and the usual rumors started circulating: "there is lava down to Pondoa" (not true) "They're going to evacuate us" (not true). "There is pyroclastic material in the Bascun almost to La Piscina" (not true). "The road is closed" (partially true for a brief time)...and so on...
Then, around 3pm the performance mostly came to an end. Mama T had had her fun for the day. Just a little December Surprise. Sort of like the supposed "golpe del estado" on Sept. 30 when President Correa got himself into trouble with the wrong group of civil servants (those with guns) and all the international media broadcast the "revolution" in Ecuador. It lasted a few hours and the next day Correa was in even more control.
Same with the volcano. Nothing like an erupting volcano to bring out the creativity of rumor-mongers. Now with the internet, bad information can spread with the speed of light. And so it did. Yahoo News, CNN, both the US and Canadian Embassies, even the BBC were apparently relying on 2nd or 3rd hand reports, probably on the internet, to broadcast the "news" of the eruption in Ecuador..."evacuations!...roads closed!...don't travel there!" and so on. We got emails. We got phone calls. (By the way, I doubt if ANY of those media outlets actually had reporters on site. Or is that too old-fashined in the "information age?" Just askin').
And that was it. No evacuation. No damage. No injuries. Road briefly closed. We had a few cancellations. No big problem. We have plenty of other guests who rely on our assessment of the situation instead of so-called "news" media.
Posted by: Sharon Stoll / Dec. 9, 2010
Date of Visit: Feb 2010 x 3 visits
Hey Jim. We love your place and are planning to come back April 2011. Glad to get a realistic report on the volcano. We had the laugh when the video reports talked about blowing clouds of ash as if this was a novel event...we awoke with this stuff on our teeth in Riobamba everyday we were there..nothing new.
Sharon, Scott and Aspen (and baby Garrison has joined us now too!).
Santa comes to La Posada
Posted by: Jim / Dec. 25, 2010
One of our guests, "Whale Shark Daddy," offered to dress up and host a Santa event in the patio of The Blue House for children of our staff and their friends, and our neighbors. Santa even brought his own goodies to give out. As you can see, it was well-attended. Thanks WSD!
Posted by: One World Classroom / Jan 1, 2011
Comment: Hi Jim,
Just checking to see if you are OK. We plan to return in March 2011 to make more music. Dump a glass of beer in the volcano to calm it down before we get there. Look forward to meeting Marsha this time.
Happy New Year!
Raye, Pam, and Norwood
A Cycling Guide to Ecuador
Posted by: Jim / Jan. 22, 2011
Well... almost. It's a start:
"There is no better way to experience the nuances of the Andean landscape than by bicycle. With your legs you learn the contours of the mountains and valleys. With your senses you become one with your surroundings. With each curve comes a new discovery, each downhill a swell of energy, tires carving like skis. You travel light and free in the here and now with all you need stuffed in your panniers.
Simon Says: How creepy can you get?
Posted by: Simon / Apr 9, 2011
I remember when I was the only 4-legger at La Posada! For reasons known only to them, Jim & Marshia have allowed a bunch of cold-blooded critters free run of the Blue House garden. Besides this blue iguana (attacking a helpless turtle in this picture), there's a fighting rooster, a 50lb steel humming bird, and a phantom flutist hanging in the avocado tree. Of course none of THEM bark, or bother guests, or whine for food, so I guess they're ok.
Bring a children's Book for La BiB
Posted by: Marshia / May 27, 2011
La BIB, or more accurately, La Biblioteca Interactive de Baños is a children's library and after school arts center that Jim and I have helped to found here in Baños. It has reached the 2 year mark in the black and with a collection of 2000 children's books in Spanish and some bi-lingual (Spanish/English) books. We also have books for older children and teens.
We are staffed by volunteers who bring their interests and talents to share. We have also been able to employ a local person on a small salary. We have been able to support our efforts by providing English classes to the community at a fraction of the usual cost and thru the reasonable donations we ask of volunteers in exchange for a nicely appointed private room and thru private donations too.
If you want to see something fun — that will make you happy — visit our beautiful website (created by the talented web designer, Jim Redd of the Posada) at www.artedelmundoecuador.com
And bring a BOOK for our library when you come for a visit or call Marshia at La Posada - 773-572-8810 to find out how else you might help.
Bikes and Beer!
Posted by: Jim /May 4, 2011
On July 1, we will be opening Baños' first brewpub, in town, just across from the main park. It will be called La Cascada Brewery and will feature 4 micro brews on tap, plus a grill menu created and executed by Chef Jason. We are in the process of brewing now, and, as you can see in the above photos, we get our water from the "Agua de La Vida" natural spring, and transport the water by bicycle in a Bob trailer. We will also be transporting the kegged beer from the brewery to the brewpub by bicycle. Can you think of a better use of a Bob trailer?
La Cascada Brewpub is Open!
Posted by: Jim /Aug 28, 2011
On July 1, on schedule, we opened Baños' first brewpub, right in town, across from the main park. Thanks to Marshia, who was in charge of the painting and decoration, Wouter Steffalar, our financial partner, Tim, the brewmaster, Jason the chef, and various excellent tradesmen, for all their work in getting the place ready. Opening night was a big success, and we continue to have a growing clientele. Tim is doing a good job keeping up with the demand, and Jason has created a great "bar-menu" of grilled sandwiches, tacos, and fried fish dishes. The bartender is Cristian, who was with us as a waiter when we opened La Posada 7 years ago, and is back at the brewpub after a stint on a Galapagos touring ship. Thanks also to the "founding brewers," Michael Burton and Josh Deth, friends from Chicago, who started it all.
UPDATE! Brewpub name changed to "Straydog!"
Posted by: Jim Dec 22, 2011
One night a customer at the bar mentioned she had noticed a lot of stray dogs in the neighborhood, and suggested maybe that would be a good name for the brewpub. I just laughed, since we had just invested $1,000 in the neon sign that clearly said "La Cascada." But then I started seeing the dogs myself and one night while in the "Lobster Pot" at the thermal springs (where I do a lot of my thinking) I had a vision of the marketing potential of the edgy Stray Dog as opposed to the ho-hum La Cascada. Next day I ordered the sign changed and we were on our way! And I haven't regretted it. Now we got dog pictures, dog toys, a "Stray Dog Stout" on tap and a screen saver with 30 stray dog photos, many of which customers have taken, for the computer behind the bar. Click on the "psycho-dog" to the left to visit the brewpub website.
STRAY DOG CARTAGENA INVESTORS WANTED!
Posted by: Jim Feb. 15, 2012
Last week Marshia and I were in Cartagena, Colombia and were impressed with the beautiful colonial architecture, the Caribbean flavor, the beach, the friendliness of the people, but most of all the business opportunity of possibly opening a Stray Dog Brewpub Cartagena! Tourism is strong and upscale here, with sophisticated travelers from all over the world, who would appreciate Cartagena's first brewpub.
So if you are looking to invest, look no further! Stray Dog Baños is a success after only 5 months, and we think the economic future is in South America! Interested? Contact us by email or U.S. phone, or our local Ecuadorian number and let's talk.
We Have a New Artist!
Posted by: Jim, Mar. 23, 2012
Shanna's elegant pen-and-ink drawings add a new and unique dimension to our art collection at La Posada. We have 6 of her pieces displayed in our outside dining area. She brings "Aloha" from Hawaii, where she was born in 1940, shortly before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She came to Ecuador in 1970 and spent her first year in relative seclusion in the rain forest. She now resides in Baños, at the foot of the erupting volcano, Tungurahua. Her work is found in collecions in Ecuador, Germany, Belgium, France, Japan, England, Hawaii, and continental U.S.
Marshia gets a Medal!
Posted by: Jim, Jan 24, 2013
Marshia, co-owner of La Posada del Arte, is also the president of Foundation Arte del Mundo, which is a children's library and after-school drop-in center. She was recently recognized by the city for her contribution to the community. In this photo she is receiving a medal by the mayor, Jose Luis Freire. For more info about the Foundation, see the website.