Dear Family and Friends,
We found a brochure for a one-day tour of Saraguro at the restaurant, California Kitchen. Although we have been to Saraguro before, there were things listed on the tour that spiked our interest. Saraguro is located about an hour north of Loja. It is a long way away from Cuenca so, of course, the tour started very early in the morning. We invited Jeanne and our neighbor, Bea, to go with us.
Here is a picture of Bea and Chuck waiting for the van that took us to Saraguro. The van was due to pick us up at 6:00am. However, the van driver was from Loja and was not very familiar with Cuenca. He arrived about 6:30am, after Chuck talked him in by cell phone.
After picking us up, the van picked up Jeanne, and we were on our way. The Andean scenery was beautiful the whole way.
We arrived in Saraguro about 8:30am. We met our Spanish speaking guide and the English speaking interpreter who would guide our tour. We were then served breakfast at a new restaurant that overlooks the city. We learned that Saraguro (named by the Incas) means city of corn.
It lives up to its name. There is corn growing everywhere. They even have a huge statue of an ear of corn at the entrance to the town.
I am going to break the trip up into multiple posts because we did way to much to cover in one posting.
After breakfast we went out of town a little ways to see the place where the Inca royalty bathed. This was a ceremonial ritual and it is practiced by some of the inhabitants to this day. Once a year on June 21, the leaders of 4 villages come together to shower in this spot. The leaders and many inhabitants of the villages make a pilgrimage up the mountain side on this date each year starting at 3:00am.
(Side note) - June 21 is the shortest day of the year south of the equator. I don't know for sure, but I think this ritual certainly is connected to the solstice since the Incas worshiped the sun.
The following pictures were made by Chuck. When I looked at the mountain we had to climb, I handed him the camera and asked him to take pictures for me. I waited below, reading my Kindle.
Chuck told me the way was sometimes quite steep. They climbed stone steps that were probably made by the Incas about 600 years ago.
He said the path was narrow in places and there was one place where the narrow path had a mountain side on one side and a drop off on the other. (Glad I opted out)
The hike up was worth their effort. This is the beautiful waterfall they hiked up to.
This is the pool where the Inca royalty bathed. The water is very cold.
They also explored a cave up there.
This terrific picture is a sillouette of Jeanne. You can see how far they climbed for this adventure.
Chuck said it was well worth the hike, but he agreed that since I have trouble breathing, I was probably wise to stay put.
Saraguro is a very unique town in Ecuador. I will share more next time.