The Cañaris, a strong and proud people, didn’t want to submit to the Incas, as many other civilisations had done when the empire was being expanded into what is now Chile/Argentina and Ecuador/Colombia.
When the Inca armies finally did bring the Cañaris and other peoples from what is now Ecuador under their control they incorporated their cities and religious centres into their own. This is what happened to the formally Cañari ruins at Ingapirca, the heart of Cañari territory.
A local woman was walking up the same mountain and confirmed that the Pan-American (a road from Chile to Alaska) was indeed at the top. The walk was arduous but we did make it – and faster than anyone else as they kept to the main path whilst we were led through a short cut. We were finally on the most important road in the Americas where we could flag down a bus to anywhere we wanted. We wandered along this heavily transited highway a while, finding it strangely empty. But before long a bus finally came by. We flagged it down and got on.
The Devil’s Nose is part of the rail journey to Sibambe from Riobamba and has been extended to be the name of the entire journey which is now solely for tourists.
There used to be a railway that ran from the northern coast to Ibarra through Otavalo, where we walked along the abandoned rails, on to Quito, then Riobamba to Alausí-Sibambe and finally to Durán near Guayaquil, where we started our journey through Ecuador. It was hundreds of kilometres long.
We left Tena the next morning, heading south towards home. Via Puyo we arrived at Riobamba to catch the train to Alausí.
We spent a full day here to allow us to use a local laundry – we only had a small bag and a limited change of clothes each. Riobamba was a nice city – Andean and cold – but with a selection of colonial buildings and two nice plazas.
Later that same day, after lunch and a rest in a hammock, we headed out on a 3 hour walk to a nearby indigenous community.
First we had to cross the River Napo so we could get to the trail through the forest that would lead us there.
After a long walk and a great picture of a butterfly the size of my hand, we arrived in a small village. It’s was not as interesting as you might have thought – the buildings were functional not traditional – but we were here to talk to the people and drink their chicha not discuss architecture.
With our guide that we arranged for in Tena at the last moment and a last minute price, we headed out to an eco-lodge in the forest for the day. From the lodge – a wooden construction perched on a cliff of maybe 80 metres, we had spectacular views looking over the rainforest.
Enough of the mountains… we had escaped the heat of the coast for here, but now the British climate of the Andes was becoming irritating. Too cold, too cloudy and annoying on-and-off rain. It was time for the Amazon rainforest and the start of our journey home.
While in Otavalo we decided to take a local bus to one of the nearby towns just to see what was there. We went to Peguche and found some houses, a church, two shops and an artisan’s studio.
The area was very green and pleasant, and while taking in the scenery we found the remains of the old railway line that ran through the mountains south to Quito to Riobamba through the Nariz del Diablo and to the coast near Guayaquil.
Otavalo is a market town north of Quito and one of the main and most famous artisan markets in the Andes. We arrived on Saturday night, missing the main Saturday morning event. Market towns, however, maintain their markets every day and when we had a walk around the the town on Sunday morning, it was business as usual.
0° latitude – the equator – just north of the city of Quito
We went to see the equator and the monument that sits on it. It was here that the equatorial line was calculated by Frenchman Charles-Marie de la Condamine in 1736. It’s actually 150m off the actual equator as measured by modern GPS instruments – themselves often 7-10 meters off.
This was maybe the first criminal act targeted towards me in all my months in living South America.
Annett and I had left the internet cafe where we had been working on a project, it was perhaps 9 or 10pm and we had found El Rey’s Sandwiches, a small sandwich shop that sells $1 hot dogs amongst the dozens of bars and clubs in La Mariscal – a tourists haven in the day and party center for Quiteños and tourists at night.
We walked from the new city to the old city to save on a $3 taxi ride, it took about 20 minutes. The old city, which spans out around the Plaza de la Independencia has buildings dating back hundreds of years. West of this plaza is another, Plaza de San Francisco that contains the Presidential Palace.