Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Ingapirca ...

A short 2+ hour bus ride from Cuenca brought us to Ingapirca, Ecuador's largest Inca ruins archeological site, and adjacent town. Ingapirca or Inca Wall in Kichwa, is located in the Andes mountains at 10,200 feet. It is not visible from the road and upon arrival it just sort of pops out at you.

We had arranged a room for a couple of nights at the Ingapirca Hotel, which is touted as being right on the edge of the ruins.
 Our welcoming committee.
Our bus dropped us off at the ruins entrance and the sign said, "Ingapirca Hotel" to the right. Yup up that there road a ways.

 Yup, up hill all the way.
Yup, father than on the edge of the ruins. Yup, we definitely accepted the ride in the back of the truck, packed in with all the workers going home: Cost 1$ each and definitely far better than trudging up the hill, dragging the suitcases in the gravel.

The hotel is wonderful - an old hacienda turned into a hotel, sitting on the side of the mountain overlooking the valley.  Our room is just like you would expect: large, luxurious, snuggle-into bed, old wooden furniture, large fireplace with a stack of wood, and a wonderful old-time smell, from fires of bygone years. 

The wait staff in the restaurant speak a multitude of languages, but with us they speak Spanish. Here we meet a friendly couple from Switzerland who, in their other lives, lived and worked with an NGO in Peru.

Their conversation was definitely that of a development worker and we spend many lively hours talking with them, in Spanish, as he spoke a little English and she none at all, until it became evident that the staff were trying to shut down the restaurant.

Retiring to our room, it became real apparent that there was no heat. We were told that we couldn't use the fireplace as the smoke would bellow into the room rather than go up the chimney. What? How about opening the flue? Not. Our waiter handed us both hot water bottles filled with boiling hot water. No wonder the beds had multiple wool blankets and an eiderdown blanket. Snuggling into the hot water bottle was heavenly, I can tell you. 

The next day was reserved for wandering and experiencing this beautiful place. And what a magical place it was. The surrounding mountains were shrouded in clouds, promising a downpour later in the day, yet we were given sunshine as we left the hotel.  Now, not only were we foreigners and then extranjeros, but also Shuktak mamallaktakunamanias in Kichwa. Wow that is a mouthful.

We chose, as we always do, to do a tour. Our guide wanted to practice his English, something that he was rightly very proud of.  Always ready to give an elaborate explanation to any question, we can see the unique and easily identified Inca workmanship of the stonework behind us on which he expounded at great length.As we came into view of the ruins, we were rewarded with a golden view of sunshine, with mist hovering in the background. Wandering the grounds, viewing the various accomplishments and the celestial/archeoastronimcal significant pieces, we were awed at the workings.
 a lunar calendar

 every nook and cranny had some story or significance 

 Today, as in bygone eras, manual labour was and is the standard, although we did see the occasional tractor being used. 
From our views on top we saw the remnants of the old Inca Trail and approaching clouds.  Can you imagine running on these stones? This oddly enough led to a definite "touristy" attraction, The Inca Face.  which meant walking down the very same Inca Trail - very steep and slippery, which means we also had to come back up! Along the way a wizened old lady tried to entice us into buying some supposed "artifacts." Were they indeed artifacts, or was someone being ingenious in tourist sales? We didn't find out but we did buy a bottle of water from her. 

The touring here took all of a morning so in the afternoon we took our own bus tour down into the surrounding towns ....