Hacienda Zuleta is always one of our most popular experiences on a trip to the Ecuadorian Andes, for very good reasons: It's gorgeous, it's historic (the family home of former President Galo Plaza Lasso), it is an authentic working estancia and offers fun and exciting activities for the whole family. But perhaps one of the best reasons guests loved Hacienda Zuleta possessed 4 paws and a giant heart. Fito, the hacienda's resident canine greeting committee was always mentioned and well-loved by guests. Unfortunately, Fito's days came to an end not too long ago, as "A Tribute to Fito" from Zuleta's General Manager, Fernando Polanco Plaza, explains.
"If you have not yet made a visit to Hacienda Zuleta, you may have missed Fito, but have no fear…there are other hacienda pups to welcome you in his stead! When you arrive at our home in the Ecuadorian Highlands, Hacienda Zuleta, you will be greeted by a welcoming host, a crackling fire in the hearth...and one or two huge, friendly dogs. These four-legged friends are part of the welcoming committee and so much more—they join our guests on hikes and horseback rides, and are the perfect companions for curling up on the porch with when a rainstorm rolls through. I'm certain that even if you don't get to spend a whole day with one of them, you'll still offer a scratch behind the ear on your way across the plaza.
We have had a number of canine friends in the Plaza Family over the decades, as any flip through a photo album tucked away in our library will reveal. These dogs are a memorable part of every guest's visit to Zuleta. It's with this in mind that I want to commemorate a recently departed dear friend; Fito. Fito passed away last spring, after having lived a full life of 13 years and four months—an old age for a dog of his size.
Fito was unique in many aspects. He was a cross between a golden retriever and a great dane, making him tall, friendly, agile, and extremely energetic! I named him after a famous Argentinian rock singer, Fito Páez, and he was loved by all the guests ever since he was a puppy. Fito positively loved kids…sometimes too much! He ripped many pairs of pants playing, and more than two dozen soccer balls. He loved to chase chickens, too. Many times I actually had to pay their owners, because the chickens didn't take Fito's "playing" that lightly (the same with the soccer balls).
Fito died like he lived—fully! My kids, wife, and I buried him beneath his favorite tree. We still enjoy the comments that guests left for Fito in our guest book. Today, they continue to leave comments for Mambo, Dominga, and Bronco, our resident friends who hold a special place in our lives and hearts.