Meet the animals of My SachaJi
y SachaJi wellness ecolodge is an undeniably, even achingly, beautiful place, with striking architecture and a stunning natural setting. But the scene wouldn’t be complete without a few certain characters.
There’s the cat draped over a wall, a stubby Jack Russell scurrying behind his master, and the silhouettes of two llamas peacefully munching grass at dusk to a movie-worthy backdrop of San Pablo Lake.
These are the animals of My SachaJi, every bit a part of the experience as the cosy rooms and pure mountain air.
According to owner Maria Teresa Ponce, they are extremely popular with guests.
“We feel that dogs contribute to the wellness experience, a nice addition to it all,” she explains.
Most of the animals here are rescued having been abandoned, something Maria Teresa says is a big problem in Ecuador, and one that she is helping to alleviate with her steady stream of adoptions.
Read on to discover the different personalities in the My SachaJi menagerie.
This three-legged hero lived in the ecolodge for six years before he passed away earlier this year. He lived to the grand old age of 12 – not bad for a dog who’s had a rough start in life. Maria Teresa says that she likes to give the animals names that she believes will help them, and as Apollo was initially very shy, she named him after the god of beauty. By the end of his life, he was happy to be stroked and be around people.
Half German Shepherd, Filia is now My SachaJi’s oldest resident. Rescued from the nearby town of Pai, she is extremely faithful, and has developed strong bonds with the dog-loving gardeners of My SachaJi. She originally came to the wellnessecolodgeas a guard-dog, but now prefers to hang out and watch the sunsets.
White as a dove, Aura was also rescued from Pai. Of the animal gang, she is the most loving, and wins over guests’ hearts on a regular basis. She often follows her favourite guests back to their rooms, crying outside to be petted. According to Maria Teresa, there’s no trick to winning her over – you just start stroking her and she puts her paws on you.
Driving back from the coastal city of Esmeraldas, Maria Teresa spotted a skinny little pup along the highway, covered in oil. After he was friendly with her, she picked him up, bathed him and took him home. She named him Valentino, which means “brave” in recognition of his ordeal. “Now he’s a little too brave!” Maria Teresa laughs, explaining that now he’s the hotel’s most playful resident, and loves to play with sticks. He was raised by Aura, who acted as a surrogate mother to him.
The most comical-looking of the pets, Pedro Muchin was adopted in Florida, and since moving to Ibarra has lost half of his body weight due to all his running around (the little chap was rather chubby on arrival and needed a diet overhaul). But although he’s in better shape now, he hasn’t lost his love of food, and is constantly trying to sniff out a treat. Maria Teresa says that if he was human, he would have an Argentinian accent. A very funny little guy indeed!
My SachaJi’s newest furry resident, Felix the Schnauzer, had the opposite problem to Pedro Muchin when he arrived looking like skin and bone having been picked up in a gas station: he’s now doubled his weight. Maria Teresa gave him the name because he looked so sad when she picked him up – Felix means happy. And it seems the name is working, now he’s Valentino’s playmate.
My SachaJi’s chief mouser, Sria was another animal rescued having been abandoned in Pai two years ago. The sleek moggy is in love with the hotel’s guard and follows him around like a dog.
A brother and sister duo, these llamas arrived as babies on the back seat of a car, travelling like humans. Pancho is particularly friendly for a llama, and even has a little sniff and a chat with the dogs from time to time. Juanita is shyer but coming into herself more. Together, they see that the lawns of My SachaJi are kept immaculate, and are a lovely sight at sunset.