Banos doesn’t have the charm of the Spanish colonial architecture that you find in much larger Quito and Cuenca, but it does have charm and it knows it. Oh, I don’t mean that in the way that the town gives the impression of being snobbish or of being too enamored with itself. Clearly, it knows that it has a lot to offer and that travelers enjoy coming to sample its charms. The town and its people make a great effort to present itself as very welcoming and with a simple appeal for its guests.
At about 5:00pm, I was going out the the internet shop next door to use their “cabinas” to make a call to reserve a room for Banos, our next stop. I saw the marching children in costume on the next block so I went back to get Valerie and told her to bring her camera.
February 19, 2011. Ecuador’s best preserved archeological site dates from the brief period when the Incas and the indigenous Canari co-existed here at Ingapirca for only about 30 years around 1500AD. They battled for several years before agreeing to share the site but their peaceful reign was ended by the arrival of the Spanish who ultimately mostly dismantled the structures and used the stone to build nearby cities.
Signs point to pits called colcas that were used to store food and to acllahuasi, which is where the ceremonial and ultimately sacrificial virgins lived. The trapezoidal niches are identical to those found in other ruins, such as Machu Picchu in Peru. Continue reading
February 16, 2011. Getting caught up on our time in Cuenca, considered to be the most important museum in Cuenca, the Banco Central Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts from the ancient Inca residents of the valley where Cuenca now sits as well as dioramas depicting the typical life of the early inhabitants of the various regions of Ecuador. We were not allowed to take photos inside the museum, however, no such restriction for the ruins. Continue reading
Friday, February 25, 2011. Today we were in the middle of a snow shower. That’s right, I said snow. We were at an elevation of 5,000 meters above sea level. That’s right around 16,400 feet. The air is very thin and even modest exertion causes you to feel winded. We hiked to the second of two refuges on the south face of this huge volcano. These refuges are waypoints for climbers who are on their way further up. We had no intent to go higher. Once we had our hot beverage we began our descent back down to the lower refuge which is at only 4,800 meters. That’s when the snowfall began to pick up. By the time we got down to the lower refuge it was snowing pretty good. Continue reading