Goodbye Ecuador

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We arrive at the airport with plenty of time and head to the gate. Once there we wait until they are about ready to call our flight. Oh no we are at the wrong gate. We move quickly to the correct gate and board our flight. Off to Miami we go! It is nice to be heading home. We arrive at the airport and it is through customs. Lucky for us we selected the fastest moving line so when we cleared customs the officers left for a break. I just cannot pick a fast line. All of our luggage arrived and we headed for the hotel.

Tonight we ate at a local restaurant and enjoyed a remarkable fish sandwich. The service was poor but the food was good. Tomorrow we depart Miami and return to San Francisco. Once there it is time to pick up my car and head for home. The vacation was great and I had a wonderful time but it is always good to be going home. I miss my daughters, my son and of course all of my wonderful grandchildren.

Well it just could not be the end of the vacation without something going just a little wrong. I awoke in the hotel room of the Crown Plaza at 5:00 pm. I headed into the bathroom and started to prepare to leave Miami and fly to San Francisco. All of a sudden my cell phone began to ring and I knew that something was wrong. The ringing of the phone had awakened Marti and I could tell that she felt something was not right. Sure enough the call was from American Airlines, and our flight to SFO (San Francisco) was cancelled. That was the bad news. The good news was that we had been rescheduled on two other flights. It was impossible to reschedule a direct flight to SFO, but we were scheduled to fly from Miami to Dallas and then from Dallas to San Francisco. Instead of arriving at 11:30 am we would arrive at 4:10 pm. Yes it was a four and one half hour delay but at least we were arriving today.

We took our time checking out of the Crown Plaza and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast. At the completion of breakfast we headed to the lobby to catch the shuttle bus to the Airport. What luck just as we entered the hotel lobby we saw the shuttle bus stop so it could pick up the hotel passengers. We entered the bus as the driver loaded our bags. Soon we were at the Miami International Airport being dropped off at the AA departure gate. Was it luck or was it fate I just do not know but we were able to walk up directly to the American Airlines ticket agent and both check our bags and receive our boarding passes. Next we headed to the security line and as we showed out passports and boarding passes to the TSA agent we were directed to an area that had no other passengers ahead of us. Soon the next TSA agent reviewed our ID’s and boarding passes and moved us forward to the X-Ray machine. Wow just one person waiting to pass through the metal detector and it would be out turn. We cleared TSA security and arrived at the flight departing gate with enough time to relax and wait for boarding. We arrived a little early to Dallas, and soon we were winging our way to SFO. We arrived at SFO just a little early but happy to be home. See sometimes what starts out to be bad can turn out better. I had a great vacation with my girl, Marti.

END

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Departing Cuenca and flying to Quito

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We returned to the hotel and I am sorry to say that my motion sickness had made me tired and not wanting to venture out and about. Instead I worked on this report and Marti explored both the hotel and the area. We scheduled our dinner for 7:00 pm at the hotels only restaurant. The ambiance was just as pleasant as for breakfast except the lighting was less and the area had an air of romance. We took our time and focused on the menu. After a careful discussion we selected two main courses. Rabbit Cacciatore in a very light red sauce with peppers, onion and garlic over thick fettuccine. The fettuccine was cooked just right and the peppers were soft but still holding their shape. The rabbit was cooked to perfection not overcooked as you might expect but cooked just to the tender point. Our next selection was pork loin wrapped in prosciutto with apple slices, goat cheese and a small tasty fruit that I have not had the pleasure to enjoy. The prosciutto was fried crisp and the pork loin was cooked to just the right temperature. The fruit along with the bits of goat cheese were fresh-cut and plated raw. These main plates were excellent. Finally we ordered an apple Neapolitan for desert. It included raisins which should have been listed on the menu but was not. We tried to enjoy this desert by taking out the raisins but stopped as we did not enjoy this desert. Overall I was very pleased with both main courses and the service was outstanding. Oh yes Marti said the wine was excellent.

The next day we were to leave the beautiful city of Cuenca and return to Quito. Morning came much too quickly but Marti and I were up and out of bed. Into the hotel restaurant for breakfast and then we were off for some last-minute sightseeing. First stop the, little house of chocolate and away we went with two boxes of chocolate and a small bag for me. Marti wanted to continue shopping but I wanted to head back to the hotel and rest before our flight. We both won this one I continued for one last shop and Marti picked out a beautiful ring. The ring is her memento of our vacation in Ecuador. Let see I have my one dollar coin purse and Marti has a ring, and a lot of other items. That seems fair to me. So off I head to the hotel and Marti heads to the square. She returns to the hotel with a few more items. Kate will be surprised.

Packed we head to the airport and catch our flight. We are picked up at the airport and rushed over to the hotel. We check into the room and take a look at the view. Oh no! A craft fair is directly below our window and I cannot contain Marti. Gone in a flash! She returned about one hour later with a small package. The day is almost over so I am ready for bed. We fly out of Quito early in the am so it is goodnight.

The Great Inca Ruins in Ecuador

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Back on the road heading to the Inca ruins another personal problem reared its head. I was becoming motion sick. I soon had to find cold air to flow over my face. I had to stop looking at the vista views passing by the van. I needed to focus on something other than the movement of the van and just close my eyes. Lucky for me after a short enough time we soon stopped at the ruins. I jumped out of the van and started to walk around. The cool mountain air, walking instead of being driven, and the guide informing us about the Inca ruins all help me to refocus. Soon I was enjoying the beauty of this place. Our guide explained that the layout of the ruins was in the shape of a lion? Because the Incas thought this animal was sacred. On one side of the village was a temple to the moon and on the other side was a temple to the sun.
I could go on but instead I will let you view some photos taken by Marti. However if you would like some information about the Incas you may want to read the following:
The Inca or Inka First Nation began as a tribe in the Cuzco region. The legendary first “Sapa Inca”, Manco Capac founded the Kingdom of Cuzco in approximately 1200 AD. Under the leadership of the descendants of Manco Capac, the Inca state grew to absorb other Andean communities all along the Andean mountains of South America from the north most extent virtually down to Terra-Del-Fuego (land of fire). As a civilization, the people adapted to high altitudes and built the city Machu Picchu. They also perfected raised bed and terraced agriculture.
It was in 1442 AD that the Incas began a far-reaching expansion under the command of Patchacuti. He founded the Inca Empire, Tahuantinsuyo, which became the largest empire in prior to Columbus’ arrival in 1492 AD. It vastly exceeded all other First Nations empires in size at that time. The civilization was advanced in other ways too. They built thousands of miles of road infrastructure. The social setting of Inca politics was a mix of Aristocracy and primitive communism. It was a society that had a ruling king, but otherwise had a collectivist approach state wide where the people shared the values they had found and worked on. It was a collectivist society where everyone had equal access to housing, food, water, work if able and could retire with full state support at 50 years of age. Their pension included food, clothing and shelter, as there was no money.

The one fatal weakness was the fact that a king was appointed to head the whole empire and the ultimate authority rested upon his shoulders. As the Spanish were arriving, there was a competition for ruler-ship that ended up causing a civil war. Two brothers contested for ruler-ship.

The Inca managed to run the entire empire because of roads and trained runners who would carry messages with specially knotted ropes that the Inka had devised as a type of record. The infrastructure ran the length of the Andes with plenty of side branches. There were thousands of villages where dispatches could be sent back and forth. As they had no horses or other suitable transportation, runners were trained from an early age. They would be selected from the best over the entire empire. It is thought that these super athletes were capable of running up to 70 miles a day. Thus news could spread around the kingdom in mere weeks, a much faster turn over than in almost any other part of the world at that time. When the Spanish arrived, the Inca in the far reaches of the kingdom were aware of them long before they actually arrived on horseback in distant regions, thanks in large measure to the runners.

When the Spanish arrived in 1533 AD, the empire was split by a civil war to decide who would be Inca Hanan and who would be Inca Hurin, which represent the families of the higher and lower parts of the kingdom by altitude. It is believed that one of the brothers was from Hanan Cuzco and the other was from Hurin Cuzco. The brothers Huascar and Atahualpa were pitted against each other. Spanish Conquistadors led by Francisco Pizarro, took advantage of this situation and conquered much of the existing Inca territory. In the following years, the invaders consolidated power over the whole Andean region, repressing successive waves of Inca resistance due to their prior knowing, preparation and culminating in the establishment of the Vice-royalty of Perú in 1542 AD. The militant phase of Inca liberation movements, which began at the virtual outset of the arrival of the Spanish, ended with the fall of resistance in Vilcabamba during 1573 AD.

Though indigenous sovereignty was lost, Inca cultural traditions remain strong among the surviving indigenous descendants. These traditions include the dress, the myths, agricultural techniques, their traditional reed boat building, the collectivist approach to life, the language and to a great extent, their sheer physical prowess at high altitudes that would leave the average person winded just to walk.

Ingapirca firmly stands at 3230 meters as Ecuador’s most impressive and most significant site of Inca ruins. These ruins are set in the hills of the Southern Andes region of Ecuador, about 90km north of the major city of Cuenca. A complex network of stone structures that surround a circular sun temple, Ingapirca displays both the Inca and Canari cultures’ mastery of stonework and their awareness of solar patterns. Set in an agricultural zone with a rich indigenous history, Ingapirca also evidences the fertility of the soil and the interaction between the warring Inca and Canari peoples during the pre-Spanish 15th century.

The Ingapirca ruins provide a glimpse into the culture of the area. The site is accompanied by a modest museum, detailing the history of this important archaeological preservation. Archaeologists determined that the original foundation of the Ingapirca city was constructed in the late 15th century. The Canari, the relatively small indigenous tribe that populated the Southern highlands of Ecuador, are thought to have originally inhabited the site. As the Inca empire expanded, it made its way up Ecuador’s coast from what is now Peru and east into the mainland Andes. When they came upon the modest but formidable city of the Canari, the Inca attacked.

A proud people, the Canari stood their ground in their stone outpost and fought relentlessly with the invading Inca. After an intense battle, the Inca were able to overcome the Canari. The Inca did not force out the original inhabitants nor did they force them to completely assimilate. The two groups instead formed a joint community, both calling Ingapirca their home.

Despite this cooperation, the Inca were the dominant force in the city. They made significant structural advances to the simple framework the Canari had established, displaying both their dominance and ability through architecture and science. The Inca implemented their now legendary stonework in which smooth, chiseled stones fit perfectly into one another without a speck of mortar. They also developed a complex network of underground irrigation, essentially providing the entire area with running water.

It was the Inca in large part that established the well-preserved sun temple that overlooks the Ingapirca network of buildings. This circular structure features windows in its walls that let in sunlight at particular stages in the solar calendar. The altars are naturally illuminated during the Inca new year, Inti Raymi. This temple is thought to have been the centerpiece for religious ceremonies and celestial observations.

With the invasion of the Spanish not long after the cohabitation of Ingapirca had been established, the advances to the city were halted and the structure was essentially destroyed. After the conquest over the Inca empire, Spanish settlers ransacked the city and took the smooth chiseled stones to use in the construction of their own houses in nearby developing cities. Ingapirca was abandoned and fell into disrepair until the Ecuadorian government took control of the restoration process in the 20th century.

A Visit to a special church in Ecuador

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Today we are going on a full day of sightseeing. We are planning to see the Inca ruins here in Ecuador. This may be a special day as we will not be buying any more items for the family or Marti and with the one dollar coin purse as my memento of this special vacation trip how could I ask for more. My life is wonderful. Our driver along with our guide picked us up at 8:00 am and at that time we met Vickie and Doug from Chicago. They along with a young student from Germany would be the total touring group. What luck, Vickie and Doug are very pleasant people and easy to talk with. Our student is also pleasant and very happy to be enjoying this tour with all of us. Tour groups can be very difficult sometimes all it takes is just one person in the group to spoil the tour. No one spoiled this tour group of people.
Away we went driving out of Cuenca heading to the Inca ruins. Along the way we stopped at a church. My sister Mary Anne and Marti’s mother Gloria should appreciate this story. It seems that the people in this area of Ecuador were suffering a severe drought. Crops were failing, animals were dying, and some people started to move outside the area. At that time the remaining people went up to the side of a mountain overlooking the area and started to pray to the Virgin Mary. During their prayers to the Virgin it started to rain. When the people saw this they choose to build a church on the spot where they were praying. This is why the church was built high on the mountain to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
After walking up over two hundred steps at an altitude of close to twelve thousand feet I was able to see inside the church. The simplistic beauty of the church was overwhelming. I could tell that each person was not only struck by both the use of the mountain and the addition of the church to thank and honor the Blessed Virgin Mary that they became quiet in their own thoughts. I was still trying to catch my breath but once my heart returned to normal I was able to enjoy the quiet beauty as well. On our return to the van my old fear of height came back to me and I found myself clinging to the walls.

Photos of the Inca Ruins in

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Just another Note: As I stated yesterday I am including some photos of the ruins of this ancient Inca village located in Cuenca.  I hope these photos assist you to feel a part of our trip.  I will continue to provide more photos.  I hope you all enjoy this photo session.

An Ancient Inca Village

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Just a Note: Today I will include some photos of the ruins of this ancient Inca village.  On the following days I will provide more and more photos.  I hope you enjoy this photo session.

After viewing all four floors of exhibits as well as some Ecuadorian art, we moved outside to view the actual ruins. The excavation was very massive. It covered multiple acres with a lake, farm land and over fifty foundations for ancient homes. We were able to see birds, fish in the lake, and actual Inca farming methods. I was very impressed. The Incas not only farmed for food but they raised plants for medicine. I would like to say that I enjoyed walking both up and down the side of the mountain but I am getting old and both going up and down tend to take me a little longer than earlier in my lifetime.
We departed the Museum and the excavation and took a cab to the area of Cuenca known for silver jewelry. Marti thought she died and was taken to heaven. We finally found a jeweler who seemed to produce his own works. Marti was very happy. Looking through his inventory and having to purchase for people other than her added to the pleasure. Soon she had a selection of jewelry and I had the pleasure of discussing the price. The jeweler explained how the price of silver has done nothing but go up and up. He felt his prices were reasonable and did not want to reduce them at all. We spent a long time in discussion and all I could do was reduce the price by $10.00. I guess Marti’s negotiation skills are rubbing off on me. Much poorer we headed back to the hotel. I was very tired but Marti was very happy.
Well after a brief stop at the hotel we headed over to the Villa Rosa for lunch. We walked passed it the first time and had to double back. The Villa Rosa is a restaurant in a converted home. The ambience is very peaceful and restful. Once seated you must deal with the menu that is only written in Spanish. However, after trying to guess what to select our waiter provided us with a special service and read the menu to us. Marti ordered a white wine but when delivered it was much too sweet so they brought another white wine selection and it was perfect. We then ordered a salad to share followed by medallions of beef with Italian cheese, and Lamb chops. The beef was accompanied by a fresh tomato salad, and a side of homemade ravioli. The tomato salad was fresh with a light olive oil dressing and the ravioli were made with very thin pasta and stuffed with fresh spinach. Our lamb was accompanied by some fresh vegetables of carrots and string beans, both cooked just right so that they still had a slight crunch, and to round out the plate creamy mashed potatoes. Stuffed we declined desert and I returned to the hotel and Marti went out to shop.
On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a specialty candy shop. We selected some candies that appealed to us and then Marti saw something she thought would appeal to her mother. We then purchased some additional candies for her mother. These candies were of the Blessed Mother Mary and Gloria feels that she and the virgin have a special bond. Later in the evening Marti and I enjoyed our selection of candy. I fell asleep before Marti and when I awoke in the morning I discovered that someone must have crept into our room and eaten some of the candy we selected for Marti’s mother. I am sure we will return to the candy shop today and replace the candy. Just think whoever entered our room did not even wake me up.

Just a Note: Today I will include some photos of the ruins of this ancient Inca village.  On the following days I will provide more and more photos.  I hope you enjoy this photo session.

An Inca Museum

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After eating we decided to stroll around the town. We found our way back to the main square and stopped by multiple pastry shops looking for something to enjoy later in the evening. I am sorry to say we did not select anything. I think this was due to trying to find something so late in the day. Most of the good items were already purchased. I was a little disappointed so back to the hotel we went.
At this time I would like to share my views about our hotel here in Cuenca. This hotel is a converted home that once belonged to someone very important. The Mansion Alcazar is the name of the hotel. When we arrived our room was filled with rose petals. Our canapé bed had two robes laid on the bed with red rose petals sprinkled over both the bed and the robes. The bathroom had rose petals on the floor and in the bath. The room was fresh and the scent of roses filled the air. We had enough room for all of our luggage (and everything else we purchased) with more than an ample table and a comfortable chair for me sit and write. The lobby was just off the entry and served its purpose. What takes your breath away is the indoor patio room that has been converted into a lobby area. It is beautiful with a fountain in the center surrounded by four conversation nooks. In the back is a beautiful garden well tended and abundant with birds. The hotel features a gourmet dining room that has been rated second in the city. I enjoyed both restaurants and my vote would place the Mansion Alcazar at the top. The staff was very attentive and courteous. My only area of concern related to the music played in the back garden. We had requested a room with a view of the garden and were assigned room # 104. The room was wonderful except for the music. The music played from late afternoon until around 7:00 pm and it seemed to play the same songs over and over again. Would I return to this hotel? For sure and I would even ask for the same room. I just might bring a CD with some other songs.
Morning came and I headed into the bathroom to shower, shave and brush my teeth. Well after my shower I noticed that there was only one bath towel so instead of being a pig I left it alone and selected the small towel (I think this was the one the Inca people use because it is so small). Lucky for me there was a robe so I was able to completely dry my body. Leaving the bathroom I saw that Marti had a damp bath towel at the side of her bed. I asked about it and she said that she washed her hair and used it to dry her hair. I thought to myself, so much for me trying to being a gentleman.
We headed into the hotel restaurant for breakfast. I had lots of coffee, an egg scramble with fresh vegetables, and ham. Marti had an omelet with bacon, cheese and vegetables. We planned out our day and after a lazy relaxing meal we were on our way to enjoy the day.
We caught a cab and had him take us to the Inca Museum by the bank of Ecuador. This is a funny story because it seems that the bank of Ecuador had plans to expand the building so they purchased some land directly behind the bank and started to build. Very early in the building process they came across some ancient Inca ruins. They had to stop and the land reverted back to the government and the department of the interior excavated the ruins. The government then constructed a beautiful building to house some of the artifacts. The museum was very magnificent the lighting and staging of the artifacts was beautiful and better helped to enlighten. I was so impressed with the museum that we stayed a little longer than we had planned. I should point out to Brother Matt that they did have multiple shrunken heads in the museum. I was unable to take photos because the heads were in a section of the museum that covered some Amazon tribes and the area was dark with security all about. I was sure if I tried to take a photo the flash would have given me away.

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