Saturday, March 29, 2014

Visiting the ancients...

We took our first real sightseeing trip last Saturday with our friend and "go to" man, Emilio, as our driver and guide. We were accompanied by our new friend, Kane, who will be relocating to Cuenca late this summer or early this fall.

The day started early for us, 8:15 and by 8:30 we had picked up Kane and were headed to Ingapirca (Wall of the Inca),  about a 90 minute drive from Cuenca. We had brought warm clothes as well as rain gear since the weather can change rapidly.

The drive there took us through some beautiful country and before we knew it, we were on the last few miles of our trip. As we drove through a small town we saw the community working to help with the road work being done. Unfortunately for us, the road was temporarily closed and we had to take an interesting detour through the back roads.

Soon we arrived at Ingaprica, got registered and paid our admittance. I paid $1 since I am Tercera Edad (third age), Stu paid $2 and Kane paid $6 since he only had a passport, no cedula. Very inexpensive!

It was already cool so I pulled on my rain jacket on top of my long-sleeved shirt and fleece. We had a few drops of rain but it soon left, the sun came out and we removed our jacket. Rather than reiterate the history of Ingapirca, I recommend you read the Wiki page about it. I'll just share some of the photos we took.

After touring the ruins we opted for the 45 minute walk along the Inca Trail. Oh my! I had no idea what I was getting into...this is a small part of the 3 day hike many do. Did I forget to mention that we were over 10,500 ft in altitude? Oh remember, what goes down...must walk back up. Have to admit that my legs and lungs got a work out. There were a couple of times I wasn't sure I could make it, but I did. Phew!

We did a little browsing at the souvenir shop and I bought a pretty alpaca scarf for $5. All the scarves I brought with me were for dressy wear so this will be a welcome addition this winter. Emilio was kind enough to show off this adorable hat for us!

My favorite photo of the day!

From here we headed back towards Cuenca stopping for lunch in a little spot Emilio recommended. El muerzo is lunch here and most have a daily special. We all ordered off the informal menu and the only one who cleaned his plate was Emilio.

Our next stop was at the Santuario de la Virgen del Rocío in the town of Biblian. The church was built into the side of the mountain, with the raw rock actually making part of the back wall, after a priest prayed for rain during a drought and after several days the rain came and ended the drought. The church is gorgeous, the architecture amazing and the views of the city below wonderful.

Of course when I saw this cute little guy and his buddy, I had to snap a couple pics...

Our last stop of the day was at another, lesser known set of Inca ruins called Cojitambo. At the top of the hill above the ruins is supposed to be one of the most spectacular 360 degree views of the area. I say supposed to because none of us had enough energy to make it up the hill. We got about half way where Emilio showed us a miniature orchid...there are a lot of varieties growing wild in the area. We will return another day.

We got home around 4:30, what a fantastic day! I took over 300 photos so this is just a small sampling. You can see all the pictures in our SmugMug album.

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