Hacienda Cusin: a cipher in the Andes

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“A niche amid the Andes holds the secrets to the universe. Like an X on an esoteric treasure map from the Middle Ages, marking the spot along the navel of our Earthly sphere, in a remote corner of the Kingdom of Suns and Planets; where day and night share the skies in equal halves, all year round, and under the stars, the moon rests placidly across the Heavens.”

The “Valley of the Dawn”, answers the ancient riddler: “the Andes’ voluptuous landscape, its patchwork undulations, ethereal beneath the mountains’ gusty gaze… there, the portal lies. Take the side road. Reach the stone wall. A wooden sign marks the castle’s entrance. Walk inside”.

Hacienda Cusin sits quietly in the shadows of Imbabura volcano, like an ageless man who has witnessed the world and, in his silent gaze, keeps the key to its conundrums.

Cryptic murals, mystic relics from centuries past; a stoic monastery thick with enigmas, walls made of the very earth on which we stand; an altarpiece to an estranged divinity, tree sculptures blowing a long-lost poem into the wind… a garden full of reveries, groomed yet free, shaded under the warm embrace of the estate’s 300-year-old cedar tree…

It’s all part of the cipher. Renaissance-imbued décor envelops a melting pot of experiences, melding the careful architecture of a sumptuous garden with the fluid forms of the country hacienda walls, pitting Colonial history against the perpetual bustle of nature, hummingbirds flitting across the lawn to colorful flowers like an Impressionist painting by Seurat or Bonnard. Everything speaks to us, though we fail to understand the subtleties.

As we continue along, we get the feeling a meaning, a code —something essential— awaits.

Art has certainly been here. Art, as Aristotle proclaimed, not in its outward appearance, but in its inward significance. As we experience Hacienda Cusin, the message remains. Most will fail to decode it. We’ll just let it seep in through our senses. Like admiring Bosch’s “Garden of Earthly Delights” —though the entire fate of the world may lie within its frame, the sheer expanse of its grandeur and detail takes us further inside, were reflection and thought falter and the enigmatic charm of life and imagination take hold.

Hacienda Cusin, like a work of art full of symbolic mystery, floods the souls of those who have found the answer to the riddle; those who have followed the road to the stone entrance, beneath the resting moon… under the gaze of silent Imbabura.

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