Ecuador 2006:  The Andean Highlands

Page 13


I'm awaiting the Middle Eastern food with Naomi here at the very posh El Jordán on Calle Larga in Cuenca.

Striking my serious artist look at Prohibido Centro Cultural.

Several photos from Cafe Prohibido that some may find deeply offensive can be seen on a separate page.



Lorenzo and Naomi with two new metal friends.

The guy on the right was really drunk, and kept saying in Spanish, "I live in Chordeleg.  You must come to Chordeleg.  Chordeleg is very nice.  Chordeleg has a market with jewelry.  You can buy earrings, earrings, gold, silver.  Come to Chordeleg.  Chordeleg is only 45 minutes from here.  Come to Chordeleg in the morning.  You will like Chordeleg."

After saying that we were leaving for Loja in the morning several times, I took a different tact and told him that we'd be happy to go to Chordeleg in the morning, and that I believed that Chordeleg was only 45 minutes away, and that Chordeleg had nice gold and silver jewelry.  He calmed down after that.

Heladeria Dumbo (Dumbo ice cream store).

No, it's not in Chordeleg.

Y'see, I lied.  We never went to Chordeleg.

This is in the bus station in Cuenca.

Our bus ride from Cuenca to Loja was magical.  This is just outside Saraguro, known for their fierce clinging to traditional customs and their classy black clothing.

An interesting sign in Parque Jipiro in Loja, which translates roughly to: 

"Alcohol is a mask for cowards.  Confront your reality."



Parque Jipiro, Loja.

This fun park includes miniature reproductions of buildings from around the world, including St. Petersburg Cathedral, Chinese temples, African huts, and Mayan pyramids.

The mosque shown here houses a children's planetarium.

Riding the stone horses of Parque Jipiro.


A church in Loja near the Parque Principal.

Church, Loja.

The original colonial city of Loja was destroyed by an earthquake, although the city was rebuilt at higher elevation by 1548 by Spanish Captain Alonso de Mercadillo, pictured here.

We found that one full day in Loja was enough, and traveled to Vilcabamba the next day.

Vilcabamba is a tiny tranquil town that sits in a very warm valley, with perfect weather and beautiful scenery.  It was famous in the 1970s, especially among foreigners, who flocked here for a psychotropic cactus called San Pedro, endemic to the valley.

Now, it has nicknames such as "Valle de la Juventud Eterna" (Valley of Eternal Youth), with claims of longevity because of its perfect climate and healing mineral water.  Whether there are truly more centenarians than other places is debatable.

Regardless, I fell in love with this place and wanted to stay and stay and stay and stay...


Bamboo stalks in the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve, next to the Chamba River, just outside the Pole House, where we stayed for four evenings.

The Pole House in the Rumi Wilco Ecolodge, inside the Rumi Wilco Nature Reserve, owned by friendly owners/biologists Orlando and Alicia Falco, intelligent and interesting people who are dedicate to maintaining the reserve.  They put one-third of the profits toward conservation.


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