The last time I visited Ingapirca was about five years ago, on a cold and wet January day. The bus ride was terrifying, I thought we would fly off the road any moment, and when we finally arrived at the site, the guides were on strike and we were told we could not enter. After milling about for a while, we were invited in through the back way (everything is possible in Ecuador), for a quick and surreptitious peek at the ruins and then for a walk around the back of the gated area to see a few ancient structures and a face carved into the rock. I was excited to see what we could, and I remember that the guide, although he spoke Spanish and my grasp of the language was extremely limited, told us a fascinating story.
Llamas Guarding Ingapirca
We walked away from the castillo to the outcropping of rocks where the Inca bathed himself (the stones were carved into the shape of a bath and irrigation system), down a hill to find a huge stone shaped as a tortoise, one part of the Inca's bath which had fallen from its place far above on the hill, and to the face of the Inca, which may have been shaped by man or simply a natural phenomenon. As we climbed up the hill back to the 'castillo' we saw more and more buses disgorging scores of tourists, and felt relieved that we arrived when we did. We ate traditional Ecuadorian food at the 'Posada Ingapirca', which is an old farmhouse converted to a hostel and a restaurant.
Face of the Inca
Our next stop was Chordeleg which is famous for gold and silver jewelry. I chose a lovely piece for my daughter Tara, whose birthday is in a few days, but when Eric and I took a few minutes to get money from a cash machine, we returned to find the shop closed. We waited and waited for the owner to return. I looked for the item at all the other stores close by and was unsuccessful in finding another like item. Finally I felt we were holding the group up far too long, so I left the jewelry shop behind. In Guacaleo, I was hoping to find textiles. There is a certain woven shawl I have wanted since my first visit to Cuenca, but it is not sold in Quito or Otavalo, so I was determined to buy it this trip. However, Eric and I walked through the town searching for the textile market without success. I asked several people for directions, and we left the fruit and vegetable market and found another food market with lots of cuy roasting, but no clothes or textiles. Again our fellow travelers were waiting for us, so I finally gave up finding my shawls. Everyone was exhausted. Perhaps we tried to accomplish too much today. We will have to make tomorrow a shopping day!