UPDATE#31 08/20 thru 08/26   


Howdy Everybody,

The adventures of 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009 through 08/19/09 have been published on the website.  We continue with the latest edition.

 UPDATE 2009 #31  08/20/09 thru 08/26/09

At last update, we had just arrived last night at the village of Incapirca, having come from Riobamba, Alausí, and the Nariz del Diablo.


     While Judy was still sleeping peacefully, I was ready to go out and about at 6:30am.  I walked downstairs only to find that the place was locked up tight, with no apparent way out.  I sat in the empty café for a half hour before the dueña came by to open the roll-up, steel security doors.  Had there been a fire, the only way out would have been to crash through an upstairs window.


     A chapel shrine located in a small plaza area… Our hostal, with the sign overhead, is behind and on the right.


     I walked up to the nearby central plaza to get the layout of the town.  These beautiful plants were around the main plaza.


     Judy came down for coffee and some yogurt for breakfast.  Before 8am, we were out walking to the ruins.  This is a view across the street from the front door of our hostal.


     The ticket office and gates opened at 8:30am.  The Incapirca ruins are the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador.  Although originally occupied by the Cañari people, the major edifices are the result of rule under the Inca Empire King, Huayna Capac.  After his death from smallpox in Cuzco, his son, Huáscar, ruled, for a short time, over the Ecuador region until he was defeated by his own brother, Atahualpa.  Atahualpa had marched from Cuzco in Peru in fierce warring competition for the entire control of the enormous Inca Empire. 


     This sacred altar may have been used for sacrifices.


     After the Spanish conquered Atahualpa and the Inca Empire had fallen, the majority of the stonework was dismantled and the building blocks were used for other constructions elsewhere.  Fortunately, some of the more important structures remained.


     Some researchers believe that this specially shaped rock was used during decapitation ceremonies.


     For the more important buildings, the Inca crafted finely cut blocks of stone that were geometrically shaped to fit together without the use of any mortar. 


     With joints so close and tight that it is impossible to even slide a sheet of paper between, the Temple of the Sun has withstood the harshest environment for over 500 years.


     Niches (closed window-like openings in the walls) were arranged to hold religiously significant artifacts.


     The positioning of the Temple of the Sun is such that during the solstices, at exactly the right time, the sun’s rays would shine through the center of the chamber doorway at the top of the temple. Much of this chamber has deteriorated and remains in ruin.


     This doorway, with the huge lintel, bears the classic, trapezoidal shape identified with Incan architecture.


     The major building of the highest order is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptical building erected around a large rock. Constructed in the typical Incan style, the temple was assembled without any mortar. The massive stones were amazingly cut and chiseled to make a perfect fit.


     It is believed that these were special bathing basins and part of an elaborate water system.


     Around the site, there are many examples of gorgeous flora.


     The side of this cliff strongly resembles the face of a man.  Called, “La Cara del Inca” (face of the Inca), it may have been carved to honor the king.


     It only takes a little imagination to see how spectacular this place must have been in its day.


     The curved walls were predominant in Incan architecture for temples dedicated to the sun.


     The grounds were nicely landscaped and we enjoyed the entire site in about 2 hours.  There were very few visitors at the site today, so we could move around freely and at our own pace.


     With a little time to spare, we walked to the main plaza to see the principal church in town.


     Our first bus of the day would take us from Incapirca to El Tambo.


     Plaza and Cathedral in the city of El Tambo…


     Beautiful plants and flowers decorated the plaza…


     The lifestyle of the local indigenous population is a sharp contrast to more western ways…


     The bus from El Tambo to Cuenca took about 3 hours.  Another passenger, Diane, was traveling with her son Brian.  Although they were Ecuadorian citizens, she and her husband had lived and worked in Minneapolis, Minnesota for about ten years.  As a restaurant employee, her husband was laid off due to the economic downturn and downsizing.  Experiencing financial stress, they decided to move back to Ecuador for more economical living conditions.  The son had been born in the USA and they were seeking Ecuadorian citizenship for him from the officials in Cuenca.  Judy enjoyed talking with her in English throughout the trip.

     Arriving at the Cuenca central bus terminal, we required a taxi to transport us to the center and the Hotel Milan.  We had enjoyed our stay here previously and have been looking forward to having more time to explore this fabulous colonial city.  At about 8400 feet above sea level, Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador.

  From our balcony room, we had a great view of the San Francisco church across the street.  We were so close that I couldn’t capture it all in one photo.


     The Spanish Colonial architecture lining the Parque Calderón, and throughout the city, has warranted it as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site.


     The towers of the New Cathedral (Catedral Metropolitana de La Inmaculada Concepción) were never completed and were truncated due to a calculation error by the architect.  The foundation would not have been sound enough to support the additional weight of traditional spire towers.  The building process was begun in 1880’s, but not finally finished until 1967.   The exterior facade was constructed using alabaster and local marble materials.  Huge blue and white domes highlight the dominant roof features.


     Pope John Paul II (Juan Pablo II) visited Ecuador in 1985.  Commemorative statues in his honor can be found throughout Ecuador and are indicative of his highly revered status.  Inside the new Cathedral, this is one of the finest and most ornate.


      The interior of the New Cathedral is adorned with gold and imported, pink marble flooring from Italy.


     The main plaza, Parque Calderón, is the functional center of Cuenca.


     The Old Cathedral (Iglesia de El Sagrario) was built in 1557, but did not have the capacity for the growing number of Catholics.  At present time, the Old Cathedral has been beautifully restored. It has long been deconsecrated and is currently a museum.


     Located at the Plaza Calderon, the Freddo Pastelería tempted us with their delicious array of desserts and excellent coffee.



     We enjoyed our included breakfast at the hotel this morning.  From the Terminal Terrestre (central bus terminal), we boarded a Viajeros bus at 9:45am bound for the city of Loja.  Along the way, the bus experienced engine trouble that caused a delay of almost 45 minutes.  Once again, the knowledge and ingenuity of the driver enabled the fixing of the bus problem.


     By the time we got to Loja at 3:25pm, it was raining and quite cool.  Tickets were available for the 3:45pm Vilcabambaturi bus to the town of Vilcabamba.  Arriving at 5pm, we took a taxi truck to the Hostal Izhcayluma. 

     Having called our favorite desk gal, Sobeyda, from Cuenca, we had been assured of our preferred room #18.  Once again, we had a fantastic dinner at the hostal restaurant/café.  Judy’s choice was Chicken Primavera and mine was Spaghetti Bolognese.  We really enjoy staying at this hostal and are very impressed with the facility and the staff.



Having gone to bed early, I was up at 5:45am.  It was wonderfully relaxing and resting in the hammock, strung up just outside of our own front door.  Listening to tranquil music on my MP3 player, I thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful sunrise over the mountains.

     At 8am, breakfast was served in the café.  Judy had fruit-filled crepes and my choice was “huevos con verdures” (scrambled eggs with veggies) that were prepared especially for me.  Yummy…

     During breakfast, we met some interesting people that were motorcycling through South America.  One guy was traveling with his dog.  He had made a special place in the cargo box for him to ride.


     This Canadian gal was actually traveling alone with the plan to go from British Columbia, Canada to southern Chile.  She speaks very little Spanish but relies on her good luck to meet other friendly travelers to help her out along the way.  She has been riding with the other two guys for a while.  Although now living in New York, both fellows were of South American citizenship.


     Our favorite room would only be available for tonight.  Sobeyda showed us another option in a private cabin for more nights.  All around the grounds of the hostal, magnificent flowers thrive and delight.


     We have been on the go-go-go lately.  We decided to take this day as one to just relax, reflect, and enjoy our surroundings.  It gave me the opportunity to catch up on some trip planning and make entries into my journal.  For lunch, we savored the perfect flavors of fresh tomatoes and sliced mozzarella cheese drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

     After lunch, we relaxed, took long showers in the natural spring water, and found ourselves in “kickback” mode.  We even found time to play our favorite dice game, Farkle.  This has been such a great day of “R & R” (rest and recuperation).

     We had a nice chat with another couple named Larry and Dottie.  They too live on a boat, a 50’ Fleming #4, that is currently in Boca Del Toro, Panama.  Unfortunately, the bus company had somehow lost her luggage and she was rather bummed out.  They suspect that it was stolen at the Loja terminal as they boarded the bus.  (Lesson to be learned:  “Be very careful to whom you let handle your travel bags”).

     Temperatures remained in the mid to high 60’s today. The weather was intermixed occasional showers with short periods of sunshine.  A spectacular rainbow (Arco Iris) offered the promise of clearing weather. 

     Once again, dinner was scrumptious.  Judy had the Chicken Estroganoff with spatzel.  The evening had turned quite chilly on this clear and starry night.  It seems that we sleep very soundly and restfully in this tranquil environment.



     An overnight shower had left water droplets on the floral blossoms.  For today, the weather would turn beautiful.


     After breakfast, we left some clothing to be laundered by the hostal staff.  Since our current room was not available again, we made the change to a private cabin called, “Alberto”, at the tariff rate of $36/night.  It was very nice, no doubt, however, we still preferred the other accommodations for some strange reason.


     The taxi/truck service took us to the bus terminal and we headed for the town of Malacatos.  The Cathedral was very interestingly designed and very colorful.


     It was the main market day here and, although we found it to be enjoyable, it was rather small and less than inspiring.  We strolled leisurely through the town and had a nice time visiting the riverside park.


     The bus back to Vilcabamba was crammed packed full of passengers.  While Judy went to the pool area for a while, I was irresistibly drawn into an afternoon nap.  The sunset view from our cabin balcony included the mountains view and a local church.

     At the restaurant/café, we had dinner with Larry and Dottie.  The told us more about their adventures and life aboard their Fleming boat, “Changes in Attitude”.  I had the “Crema de Pollo”, which was all homemade and loaded with lots of chicken breast chunks.  Judy had the Bavarian Stroganoff with rice.  She liked that combination even better than the spatzel.  Before bed, we relaxed for a little while in the hammocks at the hostal’s bar/lounge.  We left when they started playing weird Techno music again.



     After breakfast, Judy couldn’t resist the opportunity for another fabulous massage at the spa.  On short notice, they couldn’t locate the regular masseuse, so they called on a substitute.  Judy said she was very talented and gave her a strong, deep muscle workout. 

     Reluctantly, we concurred on the decision to head out and experience some new adventures.  The Hostal Izhcayluma has been a wonderful place on our itinerary and we will miss being here.  One of our fondest memories will be of the charming smile and personality of our favorite front desk person.  Her name is Sobeyda and she has been fantastic at making our experiences here even more enjoyable.  Sobeyda walked us out to meet the taxi/truck that would be taking us to the bus terminal in town.


     We were able to buy our tickets for both today and tomorrow at the Vilcabambaturis terminal.  Today, we would only go as far as the city of Loja.  I helped get our bags down from the bus roof at about 2pm.


     Sobeyda had recommended the Hotel Chandelier and they had a comfortable room for $20.  They claim to be a 3-Star hotel, however, that may be stretching the system just a bit. 

     We walked all around the city area.  There are numerous churches and historical buildings.  Iglesia De San Francisco (Church of San Francisco)…


     The main Cathedral in Loja…


     Inside the main Cathedral…


     Church of Santo Domingo…


     Loja historical district…


     Church of San Sebastian…


     Stone streets and historic buildings in Loja…


     Lots of covered “portales”…

     For dinner, we found “Gusy Pollos”, a roasted chicken restaurant that was very good.  We headed back to the hotel early hoping for a good night’s rest.  Unfortunately, the hotel was “invaded” by a school bus load of noisy kids that raced around the hallways until much too late.  I guess kids really are the same everywhere.  UGH…



     The alarm was ringing at 5:45am.  The hotel called a taxi to take us to the Loja central bus terminal.  Since we had already bought our tickets yesterday, there was no need to hustle around for tickets.  The 7am Loja Internacional bus departed on time, made a couple of 20-minute stops in Catamayo and Catacoche, and arrived about noon in the city of Macara.  This was the final destination for many of the passengers.  The continuing ones had about an hour for lunch. 


At 1pm, the same bus departed for the short, 10-minute ride to the Ecuador/Peru border crossing.


     The Macara border crossing was relatively straightforward and well organized.  Our passports were checked and stamped with Ecuadorian exit approvals before we walked across the international bridge into Peru.  On the Peru side, we had to fill out new tourist cards, get our passports stamped, and then walk over to the PNP (Peru National Police) office for another stamp to be placed on the tourist card.  The immigration formalities were probably much easier and faster because we were on a “through” bus.  All of the officials seemed quite helpful and efficient. 


     At 1:40pm, the bus continued, arriving in Piura, Peru, arriving at 4:30pm.  With no clear plan in mind, we decided to spend the night in Piura rather than continuing on to Chiclayo.  We took a taxi to the central area.  Although there were many MotoTaxi units available around the bus terminal, the noisy little vehicles are restricted from entering the main part of the city center.  The Hospedaje San Carlos was acceptable with double bed and private bathroom for about $15/night.  Being a bit tired from the trip today, we still walked around but took some time to rest before dinner at Restaurante Pollón.  Judy had Pollo Dorado (Golden Chicken) and I had the Aguadito de Menudencia (a rich and hardy chicken soup).  It was very good and economical.  By 9:15pm, the tired travelers decided to “hit the hay”.



     Having gone to bed early last night, we were up at dawn to explore a little bit more of the city center.  Coffee and pastries were enjoyed in a little café place near the footbridge. 


     A taxi took us to the company bus terminal for the Chiclayo bus that left at 9:15am.  This part of Peru is not very picturesque and we traveled mainly through areas of extensive sand dunes and subsistence level housing.  After a 3-hour trip, we arrived in the major city of Chiclayo.


     Although inland, Chiclayo is in the northern Pacific coastal section of Peru.  We walked a lot and checked out numerous different hostal accommodations.  Most did not want to bargain and were asking a higher rate than they were worth.  When we got to the Hostal Victoria, a friendly staff and helpful owner greeted us.  We were able to bargain fairly and got a nice room for just over $10/night.  Around the central plaza, there are numerous, beautiful buildings.


     Main Cathedral in the city center…


     After a marginally okay lunch at the Boom Restaurant, we shopped around for local area tour companies.  Judy suggested Moche Tours and we worked out a plan with them.  Our walking continued to the huge market area.  One of the more interesting features of this market is the “Brujo” (witch doctor) section that is filled with all kinds of strange herbs, potions, oils, and various other different curative objects used by the “healers”.  Of course, the market was filled with vendors of traditional fruits and vegetables too.


     Although interesting, the market lacked the colorful presence of the indigenous natives that are frequently encountered in other markets.

     Our plan was to stay here a few days to absorb the historical sites.  We went to a company bus terminal and purchased onward tickets for the Lima-bound service leaving Friday night.  The “Exclusiva” line offered the very best overnight buses featuring 180-degree reclining seats that are almost like beds.  We had dinner at a fancy Italian restaurant called, Pizzería Venecia.  Although it came highly recommended, we were not impressed at all.

     Tomorrow, we will begin our tours of the significant sites of interest in this culturally and historically rich area.






       We sincerely hope that you will review the previous years of compilations to give context to the current editions.  Please let us know if you have any special suggestions and thoughts.

     REMEMBER:  The website is now fully active and you can visit it at any time.  You can also review any of the previous logs from the years 2006, 2007, or 2008 and learn more about the crew and their many adventures.  Enjoy.



   You may contact us via email anytime.

Thanks for allowing us to share our life and adventures with you.

Lotsa Luv,

Fred Reed and Judy Law




"AMARSEis pronounced "AM-ARE-SAY".

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