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Archive for September, 2011

When we came to Ecuador our plan was to travel, and learn the language and culture, so we are trying to take advantage of opportunites when they present themselves.   We read about a day trip out of Cuenca to a town named Giron with waterfalls and an adventure to The Yunguilla Valley.  We were told to be prepared for cold, rain, sun, heat, all in the span of 8 hours, they were right.  It started out a little rainy and cold in the morning and by the time we were hiking in the canyon we were peeling off layers.  I don’t recall the actual number of meters, but we went from the high altitude here in Cuenca to somewhere near sea level.

We met at the Terra Diversa office early in the morning and waited for our transportation.  The trip was limited to 16 people which we thought was pretty cool, not a huge tourist bus with a gaggle of people.

We jumped on our comfortable mini-van type vehicle and off we went.   Our first stop was the site of an important battle between Gran Columbia and Peru.  I am not sure if I have the history correct, but at the time “Gran Columbia” was a country that encompasses the geographic area that is what we now consider to  be Columbia and Ecuador.  If my history is wrong, please forgive me.   Anyway, Peru lost.

Site of the Battle of Tarqui, a was between the Country of Gran Columbia and Peru.  Peru was defeated.
View from War Memorial, the Road to Giron

We visited a really lovely church in Giron and then went to the military museum, Museo Casa de los Tratados.   It is housed in the oldest home in Giron, and where the treaty after the battle was signed.  Very interesting, a uniformed Ecuadorian soldier gave us the tour, it was in Spanish, of course, so I missed alot of the info.

Soldiers boots on display in front of Museo Casa de los Tratados

We then drove to the waterfalls not far from the city center. The hike up to the waterfall was really nice with all kinds of beautiful plants and trees.

El Chorro Waterfall

We all climbed up to this bridge for a closer look.

Pathway leading down from the falls

After we left the falls we drove to Yunguilla, stopped at a restaurant, placed our order for lunch so it would be ready and waiting for us upon our return, talk about organization???

We drove for about  half an hour and then we were in this incredibly starck, beautiful desert area.  UNBELIEVABLE.  Less than an hour ago we were in lush greenery with waterfalls and now, we were in a desert. 

Desert Sky, total beauty.

Cactus and desert plants

A lone tree

Michael in Desert Canyon

Rock formations, the guide told us that Geologists go nuts when they come here, apparently these types of formations are only found in one other Desert region in Africa.

Rock Arches

The only river in the area

Our Guide Juan from Terra Diversa Tours

Anne in the Canyon

Beautiful Vegetation in the Canyon

Desert Beauty

After we finished our hike through the canyon, we boarded our bus and went back to the restaurant for lunch.  It was a lovely afternoon and we sat outside at a table big enough for all of us.  Michael and I had Sea Bass, one meal would have served three people!!!  It was accompanied by perfectly cooked Yucca, we got to chat and laugh and get to know our fellow travelers a little bit.  We met several people we have kept in touch with.  What a great way to spend a day, beautiful scenery, interesting history and great food.

  But the best part was, we got on the bus not knowing anyone, and ended the day with new friends.  Can’t beat that!

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Shortly after we got to Cuenca we heard about a request  for blond “Gringos” to be extras in a short film here in Cuenca, so we thought – cool, why not?  We went to the production meeting, and  learned what the film was about, a young man’s entire family are circus performers, however, he just does not fit in, and becomes a bank teller, therefore he is “The Black Sheep” of the family.  The scene Michael was is in depicted the burial scene for the young man’s father. 

Michael was told to wear a white shirt and a Panama hat, he was supposed to be the typical tourist.  The filming was fun, when it was finished,  we were told it would take about wo months for the editing to be completed. 

I e-mailed some pictures we took during the filming to the director the other day and he told me about this newspaper article that was in the Sunday paper this past week!  The article on the left is about “The Black Sheep”.  He told me the final product has to be completed by October 1st for submission to the Cuenca Film Festival.

Article Describing the Short film Titled “The Black Sheep”

Some Cast Members
Casket with Clown Noses

Sound Man recording the shutter sound of Michael’s DSLR

Extras

Cast Member
Director and Cast

Do we need to get an Ecuadorian SAG card for Michael???????  LOL/

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Two Soccer Games.

The day we went to Ingapirca, we left Oscar with our friends Wally and Hazel, they have a dog care business, which really isn’t the right term.  It isn’t a really a business for them, the dogs they care for are treated like their own.  In the background are their own two dogs, Seamus an Irish Terrier, and Velkey a German Shepherd.   For those who don’t know, Oscar is the gordo (fat) little black and white guy.

Oscar at doggy daycare, playing with the big boys!

A few days later we heard about an event for kids to fly kites in a park not far from our house, we all thought that would be cool to watch and maybe get a few interesting pictures.  We met up with Wally and Hazel and their two pooches.  We strolled to the park, dodging stray dogs along the way, most are harmless, but there are a few aggressive little street munchkins.

 We arrived at the park to find a soccer game being played by local teenagers.  Not a kite in sight.  Guess we had the wrong park.  Oh well!!!  We watched the game for a bit, and then strolled home, again dodging stray dogs.  Hazel was great, we would be walking along and she would keep an eye out for the strays and say “Two dogs on the left coming up”,  “Shar-Pei on the right” etc.  so we could navigate our way around the strays!!! 

A day in the Park

Our friend Efrian had asked us to go to a professional Soccer game with him, so the day after our adventure to the park, he picked us up and took us to the Stadium in the center of the city to watch a match between Cuenca and Quito.  Apparently is was a very important game,  kind of a “do or die” situation for the Coach of the Cuenca team, win the match or loose his job, and the opponent, Quito, is the best team in Ecuador.  Lots on the line!!!

Cuenca Team Mascot and his Dog

There is a Lion on the Cuenca team patch, so this guy shows up at every game in his Lion outfit and cheers the game on, along with his little dog.  He marches out with the team and runs around waving his flag and taking pictures with people,  the two are quite popular. 

These three were quite a hit!!
As Efrian said, this is the worst Lion mask EVER.

Efrian explained that there are 11 players on the field, and the fans and mascot are considered to the the 12th player on the team,  that is why the Mascot wears the number 12 on his jersey.

Cuenca Fans with smoke bombs

We were in the high rent seats, so the people around us were quite civilized, but the folks across the field in the equivalent of “bleacher” seats never stopped dancing and partying, it was fun to watch, but we were quite pleased we weren’t sitting over there.  When the Cuenca team took the field those fans went crazy, smoke bombs, confetti, singing, pounding, playing drums and dancing. 

Quito fans. 

The Quito fans wear white, and the Cuenca fans wear Red/Black.  The Quito fans climbed up behind the sponsor sign and hung a banner promoting their team, it is hard to see, but there are three heads popping up behind the sign.  Passionate crowd.

Great Security

The fans of the opposing teams are kept in seperate sections to avoid trouble.  These are Cuenca police officers making sure the paths of the fans don’t cross.  We were told that the fans of the visiting teams are held in the stadium until all the Cuenca fans are gone, again, to avoid altercations in the streets.  Apparently they had to really crack down on hooliganism after a death a few years back.

Cuenca fans and their banners.

Cuenca made the first goal, and the crowd was thrilled.  In the second half, the Quito team seemed much more motivated and they were really controlling the field, and then they scored.  Ok, now the score is 1 – 1, this went on for awhile, if it was a cartoon, smoke would have been coming out of our friend Efrian’s ears, he was steaming due to a few bone head plays by the Cuenca goalie.  It was down to the last three minutes of the game and CUENCA SCORES!!!!!!!!!!!  The crowd went nuts.  So, “we” won the game and the fans didn’t spare the enthusiasm.

So, we had never been to a soccer game before, and this particular weekend, we got to see two.

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Ingapirca

We had read about a set of Inca ruins (yes, more Inca Ruin pictures) located about two hours from Cuenca, so we hired our trusty guide Efrian to take us there.  He warned us that there were no restaurants, so we should bring a lunch with us.  We told a neighbor that we were going to the ruins and she told us that there was a nice restaurant, very close to the site, and we should have lunch there, but she warned us that most Ecuadorians don’t eat there because lunch is too expensive, about $5.00 – $7.00 per person (when we were out with Efrian previously, all three of us had a FABULOUS lunch, with desert and  tip included for less than $11.00), so we called Efrian and told him we would buy lunch at Posada Ingapirca.  More about that later.

Efrian showed up in his lovely, large, Ford Explorer, which is a great treat after hopping into and out of taxis that are the size of Matchbox cars, so Dan, Michael and I were on our way to Ingapirca Inca Ruins!

The ride was beautiful, we stopped a few times to look for Condors, and watch farmers working their fields, OMG, they are on the sides of mountains tending to crops. 

These people were tending their crops HIGH on a mounatain side, they were still working when we were returning to Cuenca.  Hard Life.

As most of you know, Michael and I really enjoy taking photographs, so the night before we left for our day trip, we cleaned our DSLR cameras, charged the batteries and cleared off  the memory cards, when we arrived at the ruins we started shooting pictures, when the cameras wouldn’t work, we realized WE FORGOT TO PUT THE MEMORY CARDS BACK IN THE CAMERAS. What dopes, oh well, at least we had both brought the little point and shoot cameras.

Too picturesque, the ruins are behind this horse, did someone leave him there for the photo op?

My Cousin Dan with the ruins in the background
 Efrian gave us a tour of Ingapirca, explaing the structures and way of life. The Canari people were the original occupants of the area but were conquered by the Inca’s and basically reduced to slave labor.
Overview of Ingapirca

Remains of buildings, many stones were carried away by the Spanish, after they conquered the Inca’s, and were used as foundations in Churchs the Spanish  built.

A few pics of the Inca Stonework.

 Stone Work, cut to perfection, no mortar, and still standing.  Unbelievable.
Temple of the Sun
The rocks around Dan were used as a Calendar system

If you were caught committing a crime, you placed your neck in the opening of this stone, and your head got lopped off!

The site is surrounded by homes on private land and Efrian explained that the ruins extend up into the private lands, artifacts such as bowls and tools have been excavated by the local Canari people, although it is illegal to possess these artifacts, some do, and he took us to the home of an older couple that showed us a few pieces. I like to believe that the pieces they showed us, which were hidden in a shed, were real.

Artifacts hidden in a shed on private property. 

After visiting the older couple, Efrian brought us down a steep path to this site, behind us in the rock is the formation known as “Cara Del Inca”, Inca’s Face.   Very cool.

Cara del Inca

After we toured the site, it was time for lunch.  We had spotted the sign for the restaurant and we all laughed, please look closely at the second picture, the arrow on the sign originally pointed in one direction, and was then covered over with tape, and a new arrow was painted, pointing in the opposite direction.  Ecuadorian directions, LOL.

Our Destination for Lunch

Sign pointing the direction to Posada Ingapirca, or not, LOL.

Posada Ingaprica Restaurant.

So up the road, the way the NEW arrow pointed,  we went.  The restaurant was  LITERALLY two minutes up a gravel road from the Ruins site, but our guide Efrian had never been there, so this would be a treat for all of us.  The Hotel/Restaurant were in a beautiful little setting with lovely trees, flowers and plants.  The restaurant was seperate from the building housing the hotel rooms.  When we got there, we all thought the place must be closed, there wasn’t a SINGLE car in the parking lot, but very quickly people started scurrying around.   A young man, in formal clothing, escorted us to our table, it was a very formal setting, so much for the $7.00 lunch came to mind! There were no menus, the young waiter explained what was available for lunch, which included fresh trout, so we ordered lunch  and enjoyed the view of the ruins from our table. 

 Lunch was great, it included a local Ecuadorian drink, a great soup, the main course, desert and coffee.  After we were all finished eating, I decided to walk around the grounds a bit and take a few pics, ( I could kick myself for not taking pics of the dining room).  As I was strolling around, I noticed the waiter was watching me, so I asked if I could take his picture, and the huge smile on his face assured me it would be OK, so I did.

Our waiter at Posada Ingapirca

Then he got another HUGE smile on his face and gestured that he would like to take my picture,  I thought that would be great so I said, “Si, Mucho Gracias”.  He gestured me back into the building where he proceeded to place the traditional garb of Canari women on me!! The fancy skirt and sweater, then he very gently draped the shawl over me, and proceeded to grab a typical Canari hat for me to wear.  HOW COOL WAS THAT.  He took the pic and smiled and laughed with me the whole time.  The clothing is beautiful, we see the skirts and shawls here frequently in Cuenca, but the hat is from the area around Ingapirca, we don’t  see women wearing them too often around the city.  Here is the pic:

The waiter and I then went into the dining room as a surprise, and Michael, Dan and our guide Efrian went crazy taking pictures.   I felt kinda goofy, but realized it would be one of those days that you would tell your friends about.

Canari Woman’s Hats that were on the wall of the restaurant.

A few pictures of traditional Hats that were hanging in the dining room.

These women wear these hats while working the fields.
Ecuadorian Tribal Masks excavated around Quito
Our guide Efrian was pleased to learn about this little gem of a restaurant, the food was wonderful, the company was better.  It was so special for us to be  with my cousin Dan, having family here was very special.
OK, so, we have NO idea what the lunch cost, because my cousin Dan insisted on paying. 
Thanks Dan, it was a really fun, great day.
One last pic, ladies on our way out of the  town of Ingapirca.
  They are truly remarkable to see.
Two women having a chat on our way out of Ingapirca

More stories to follow

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