|On our way to Ingapirca||Previous page
|A half century before the arrival of Columbus in the "New World", the Inca Empire extended from what is now central Chile northward into Ecuador. The Inca population centres were connected by an elaborate and well-maintained system of roads 5,000 km in length - said to be a larger system than that of the Roman Empire!
Today, a few remnants of this ancient road network remain intact in the Andes of Cañar province of southern Ecuador. North of Cuenca is the village of Achupallas where a 35 km portion of the old Inca road system leads through the Andes to the Inca ruins of Ingapirca.
On January 25, 2001 we stopped and loaded up with lunchtime supplies in preparation for our journey to the site.
The story of this part of Ecuador begins long before the arrival of the Spanish, or even the Inca. Cuenca was originally a Cañari settlement called Guapondeleg which translates into "land as big as heaven."
Once into the countryside we could see it had been well named. The scene was beautiful. But the traditional farms are quickly changing. Large homes the result of money sent back from relatives now working abroad are changing the landscape. Our bus after lumbering along a series of dirt roads arrived at the village of Ingapirca where we were treated to school children dancing around the maypole in the centre of the street.
A mile or so away we viewed the historic Ingapirca, Here we saw the Temple of the Sun, boasting some of the Inca's finest mortarless stonework. The city is referred to as a fortress but it also had ceremonial and religious purposes. Today, there is a museum with artifacts that include ceramics, stone carvings, copper objects, a skeleton just as it was found, and even textiles, all displayed according to chronological periods. In another room is an ethnographic display; Cañari clothes, a house diorama, and tools still in use today.
Outside, we were greeted by Cañari families selling their traditional crafts. On our way home we stopped for lunch along the stream and absorbed the pastoral lifestyle. Approaching the city we were again impressed with the size of the homes and churches. (The driving we won't talk about.)
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Time to Say Good-by
January 28 found us flying through the air on our way home.
As night approached over the southern United States we encountered the most unusual sunset.
A fitting end to another Great Adventure
Index Ecuador & the Galapagos