Thursday, March 28, 2013
Every door is another passage, another boundary we have to go beyond.
We sometimes step, sometimes stumble, and other times we are pulled into the territory of the Crone when the need for a deeper, larger understanding of our most meaningful path can no longer be denied -- when the gifts hidden in our challenges must be brought forth.
-- Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The little fairy bedroom in my home-away-from-home:
View from the doorway of the tiny little bedroom Adelaida and Amrita prepared, welcoming me with flowers and signs and pictures, and other gifts. I spent a lot of time sitting at the little desk gazing out the window into the lovely wooded wildness.
View of my bedroom from the desk. Thanks to the generosity of neighbors Casandra and Julian, I had a very comfortable bed, which was also the spot of my morning sitting practice
Contemplating which photos and mental impressions to share in this final blog focused upon my sojourn in Ecuador, I am reminded of the many important images and people who were not captured digitally...and of course, many, many more were NOT than WERE. One might even say that in most cases the most meaningful occasions were not, because one's attention is so intimately focused upon the moment, without nary a thought of taking a picture until afterward, or something is seen in passing when the camera is not at-hand. As I sit here in reverie, I'm playing the McCoy Tyner Trio project, "Infinity," which takes me back to San Francisco and North Beach and Keystone Korner, where I heard so many jazz greats many, many moons ago...deep impressions, no photos.
And so I begin this last offering where I left off...in Cuenca.
I made a day trip from Cuenca to the largest known Inca ruins in Ecuador, Ingapirca ("Inca wall" in Quecha, the language of the indigenous population, still alive-and-well and now even instructed in some schools), a town in Cañar Province, named after the Inca palace and temple site.
The most significant building is the temple of the sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The building is constructed in the Incan way without mortar in most of the complex.
The stones were carefully chiseled and fashioned to fit together perfectly. The temple of the sun was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the center of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple.
Jorge guided us four "girls" through the ruins. Fluent in Spanish and English, he seems to be a student of these ruins and is particularly knowledgable about them. Here we are at the Temple of the Sun.
It was C-O-L-D and windy there (10,600' elevation), significantly colder than in Cuenca (about 1,600' higher). Luckily the *young thangs* were accustomed to it, being from Wisconsin. They're attending an immersion program in Spanish in Quito, and traveled to Cuenca and environs for the weekend.
I'm standing near where Jorge was standing in the last photo
"I hear you knocking, but you can't come in."
The Incas were not the first inhabitants of Ingapirca. It had long been settled by the Cañari indigenous people, who called it Hatun Cañar, and it dates back to 1000-1500AD. After the King of the Incas died in Peru, the oldest son took over the kingdom. They lived together peaceably (will wonders never cease LOL), each acting out their individual indigenous cultures.
They worshiped the Sun and Moon and tried to be as close to their gods as possible. They felt that this place of substantial elevation was where the gods had led them, regardless of the climate.
Arriving by taxi to the outskirts of Cuenca.
Because the three young women had "scored" a ride back to Cuenca in a taxi for less than the other fares(!), I also "scored" since the driver was willing and able to carry me as well, which meant getting back in half the time that the three modes of public transport going there had necessitated, in just over one hour, vs. around 2.5 hours!
The final leg of this journey took me to the province of Loja, which shares a border with Peru.
The ostensible five+ hours bus ride from Cuenca to Loja was significantly lengthened by some unsought-after drama, when the bus driver clipped off the corner of the roof of an old building, trying to negotiate a corner driving through the narrow streets of Saraguro. The problem is that he (apparently) attempted a "hit-and-run," but the police came from a different direction and blocked the road, then escorted the bus back to the village to "deal" with the incident.
I was especially drawn to the provincial capitol city of Loja. With a population of about 200,000, it is situated about 6800 ft above sea level and has a delightfully mild Andean climate, ranging between 60 and 86 degrees F. Art and music are alive-and-well there; I found people there in general to be open and spirited -- perhaps being home to two major universities has something to do with it, and it was amazing how easy it was to find healthy, organic, vegetarian food.
I'll begin with a crazy potpouri of photos of the city, some with captions, others self-explanatory.
Loja City Gates
An exceptional exhibit of women's art sponsored by the province
Sunset over Loja
Church of San Francisco, built in 1548
There are always stands just outside the church doors, with sellers of religious paraphernalia; could this be a philosophical discussion regarding free will (LOL)?
This initially struck me as funny, this health clinic housed in the church complex (as though Jesus would perhaps have more power to heal here). Commenting to a passing pedestrian, I learned that it is a free clinic, administered by the Franciscan monks....
(The clinic is across the street from Cafe Quilanga...hmmmm...why, oh why, am I so taken by a church named "San Francisco" -- hmmmm...? And could this fortunate thing have anything to do with the serendipity of meeting dear Wilma?)
I love this window of San Francisco above the elementary school on one side of the church
The church plaza features a monument to Alonso de Mercadillo, founder of the city.
Now on to a sweet serendipity within the Lojano odyssey. Wandering the streets of the city I came upon this small, humble cafe, and was struck by a sign regarding organic coffee from Quilanga (a district of Loja, known for coffee production):
Upon further exploration I noticed that they specialized in freshly extracted vegetable or fruit juices, so, in addition to buying coffee beans for me and Adelaida, I decided to order a beet, carrot, parsley juice! And that's how I met Wilma...
...and her delightful young neighbor, Hugo, a "modisto" (designs and makes clothing, also repair and alteration), who helps Wilma in the kitchen, when he is not down the street in the shop helping his wife
Here they are, with Hugo demonstrating the "poncho" used by the coffee pickers in Quilanga to deposit the beans as they harvest them; the machine she uses to grind the beans once she has peeled and roasted them is at Wilma's left
I deeply enjoyed meeting Wilma . We had some delightful conversations, during which I found that she attended university and hopes to return to finish a degree in natural medicine. I have a feeling that it is not the last time I will see her!
Oh my! I think the Botanical Gardens, Podocarpus National Park, and Vilcabamba will have to be "housed" in their very own blog! I'll call it Endings...and beginnings, Part 2, (#8, Ecuador, 2013).
I'm OUT OF CONTROL!
Sunday, March 24, 2013
A hundred blossoming white lotus flowers
"A bouquet of blossoming salmon-hued gladioli"
for the lotus flowers.
I spent two weeks solo on the road traveling by bus -- getting to know portions of southern Ecuador and, of course, many amazing people and more aspects of myself and my Self as well -- first to Ambato for one night, then Riobamba for three nights, Cuenca for four nights and Loja for three nights (I really wanted to stay longer in Loja, but the time for my return to the USA was drawing close). Except for the trip from Ambato to Riobamba, the bus rides also each took a day.
These maps will give you some perspective of my journey -- which began near Ibarra (where I stay with Adelaida and Amrita) one hour from the border with Colombia, tripping first to Ambato, Riobamba, Cuenca, and then Loja, city and province, which shares a border with Peru:
I started in Imbabura province (#11);
+six hours by bus got me to Ambato, in Tungurahua province (23);
then to Riobamba in Chimborazo (5);
Cuenca in Azuay was next (1)
and finally to Loja, the capitol of Loja province (12).
Vilcabamba is also in Loja.
Quito is the capitol of Ecuador, in Pichincha province (19).
On the bus to Ambato...the young ayudante giving me the peace sign
The high school, Colegio Instituto Tecnológico Superior Bolivar, in Ambato celebrated its 150th anniversary of instruction in 2011!
Looking at the school from the main plaza
An old curmudgeon who bakes wonderful pastries and breads early in the morning and comes to the plaza to sell them
The main plaza:
Librería Futuro, a wonderful little bookstore across from the plaza, specializing in South American writers
A couple more shots of downtown Ambato:
Bus driver and ayudante, leaving Ambato and headed to Riobamba
#1 find lodging. Check. #2 find food. Check: El Rey del Burrito -- delicious Mexican food in the middle of Ecuador, thanks to Lonely Planet's online help!
This lovely Ecuadorian woman owns El Rey. A Mexican friend taught her to make Mexican food, INCLUDING tortillas, many years ago. BTW, the cuisine of Ecuador bears almost no resemblance to that of México.
Her cute husband. Aren't the murals marvelous in this wonderful space!
I'm in heaven! I ate here twice...very impressed with the freshness and quality of the food.
Making corn tortillas in the kitchen (they also make flour tortillas)
Watching a zumba class from my room (right, "watching")
Managed to capture an indigenous group from San Juan resting by the side of the road during a long walk
More photos from my walk:
An indigenous woman, the cow herder
Can you see snow-peaked Chimborazo (20,564 ft) in the background? The province is named for the exquisite mountain, which reaches the Earth's closest point to the sun, due to the equatorial bulge resulting from Earth's rotation!
More on the Andes from Wikipedia: The Andes is the longest continental mountain range in the world, a range of highlands along the western coast of South America. It is about 4,300 mi. long and of an average height of about 13,000 ft. The Andes extend from north to south through seven South American countries: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela.
Along its length, the Andes is split into several ranges, which are separated by intermediate depressions. The Andes is the location of several high plateaux – some of which host major cities such as Quito, Bogotá, Arequipa, Medellín, Sucre, and La Paz. The Altiplano plateau is the world's second-highest plateau following the Tibetan plateau.
The Andes range is the world's highest mountain range outside of Asia. The highest peak, Mount Aconcagua, in Argentina, rises to an elevation of about 22,841 ft.
You can see most of the "Cuenca" sign below the ayudante's hand. Isn't the broom truck uber cool!
More photos on the road to Cuenca. Lovin' the way the church tower captures the eye in the center of the unknown village in the distance.
This lovely young woman, Sirena, with whom I shared a seat and spoke to at length, allowed me to take a photo of her before we parted company
Spotted an indigenous woman out the window, passing through another village
Marta, owner of La Casa Cuencana, welcomes me to my favorite hostel of the trip, where I paid $12/night for a lovely room with a private bath and use of the kitchen. Spirit, another lodger there, bought the beautiful gladiolas for the dining room table.
Here's a shot of Spirit in front of the hostel. He bought more flowers to take with him to www.GaiaSagrada.com , when he left to facilitate a program on Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now there. That's Marta again, smiling by the door.
Taken at a Dutch bakery in Cuenca...we enjoyed getting errands run and cruising the city together one morning.
A few shots of Cuenca, a lovely colonial city:
This is Maha Mama, your friendly blogger-on-the-move, groggy with blogging, with a special PSA: I have decided to create one additional blog, instead of this one becoming the longest blog in the history of blogging...LOL!
The final FINAL Ecuador blog #7 will include looks at the Ingapirca ruins, Loja, Podocarpus National Park, Vilcabamba, and my final musings about this pilgrimage. Stay tuned!
Saturday, March 02, 2013
What they say is true...aging is like a snowball gathering speed as it rolls down the hill...incredible how the years are whirling by these days!!! It is said that youth is wasted on the young...and in my case, that was definitely true. How about you?
I'm a little late with this birthday entry...it was February 23, 1942 that I entered the planet for this round. Carlos and Yolanda invited us to their lovely cottage and finca (farm) above Ibarra. Adelaida, Amrita and I celebrated my personal new year there.
Carlos on the land, tending to his humungous garden.
Yolanda pausing in the kitchen during lunch preparation
Their phenomenal property is in a part of the Salinas area called Milagro de la Concepcion -- beautiful tropical and lush landscape. What follows are photos of the property, just the tip of the iceberg of the garden's riches, and the incredible surrounding valley it is tucked into:
Adelaida with coffee in-hand, the tomato-colored water catchment tower in view
We harvested MANY papayas...here are more, still to ripen
A type of winter squash, with its lovely flower
Blackberries! We harvested many and ate for breakfast with yogurt
Mangoes ripening on a young tree, its first harvest in-process
Amrita has an aguacate (avocado) in one hand and guayabas (guavas) in the other; we also picked various varieties of lettuce for lunch salad
Adelaida clowning with a chirimoya, still ripening on the tree; we were gifted with a huge bag full of the spectacularly delicious fruit, dear to the Inca royalty of ancient South America
Me of little hair playing with Amrita's abundant and beautiful mane!
A local resident, hauling water from a spring where we frolicked and bathed in the small pool and waterfall (I have some X-rated photos of us sans-ropa!)
Another local with his burro, headed up the mountain to harvest frijoles (beans)
Looking into the valley with the tiny village center in-view
A close-up of the village center, with the old church
Adelaida taking a photo of the birthday lunch
Adelaida's birthday "card", wedged within the outer husk of a banana plant and filled with flowers and her love note to me.
One view of the exquisite antique shawl Adelaida gifted me, the embroidery of course done by hand.
Another view...all the fringe is knotted and sewn by hand. The fabric is a wonderful quality of cotton/wool.
The day after my birthday we had lunch with dear friends Sandra, Micaela and Roger. Here are a few photos of that wonderful gathering:
Roger, Sandra, Micaela at their home
Sandra, the master chef, prepared a veritable feast for "my" day!
Reading all the wonderful FB and other birthday wishes on Micaela's laptop
Blowing out the candle after the riquisimo lunch prepared with love by Sandra
Rosco-the-dog enjoying the beautiful skirt and blouse Sandra, Roger, and Micaela gave me (taken the following day "at home")
Close-up detail of blouse
Dear friends Micaela, Sandra, Adelaida, and Amrita on after-lunch walk
Me'n my hermana latina, Adelaida (my earrings are a birthday present made for me by my friend Helena, with seeds from the Amazon
Friday, February 15, 2013
View of Rio Intag from terraza outside our room at Tierra & Sol Lodge, Intag, Ecuador
This morning as I walked along the lakeshore,
I fell in love with a wren
and later in the day with a mouse
the cat had dropped under the dining room table.
In the shadows of an autumn evening,
I fell for a seamstress
still at her machine in the tailor's window,
and later for a bowl of broth,
steam rising like smoke from a naval battle.
This is the best kind of love, I thought,
without recompense, without gifts,
or unkind words, without suspicion,
or silence on the telephone.
The love of the chestnut,
the jazz cap and one hand on the wheel.
No lust, no slam of the door --
the love of the miniature orange tree,
the clean white shirt, the hot evening shower,
the highway that cuts across Florida.
No waiting, no huffiness, or rancor --
just a twinge every now and then
for the wren who had built her nest
on a low branch overhanging the water
and for the dead mouse,
still dressed in its light brown suit.
But my heart is always propped up
in a field on its tripod,
ready for the next arrow.
After I carried the mouse by the tail
to a pile of leaves in the woods,
I found myself standing at the bathroom sink
gazing down affectionately at the soap,
so patient and soluble,
so at home in its pale green soap dish.
I could feel myself falling again
as I felt its turning in my wet hands
and caught the scent of lavender and stone.
~ Billy Collins ~
Love...in all its guises and forms, the very force of life as we know it, yet manifesting in the smallest, most homely, most subtle ways. Travel definitely helps me keep in touch with the reality of This Love.
With this, I am beginning the 4th pictoral blog in Ecuador.
Amrita, my god daughter, is on vacation between trimesters at school, so we traveled to a rainforest zone called Intag for 4 days..."we" being German, Amrita's dad, Adelaida, her mom, Kenisha and Josh (young adults here on university study abroad projects -- Adelaida is hosting them in their holme).
We rented a room for six for $40 per night in Intag at Tierra & Sol, a lovely lodge, and $7 each for three lovely meals per day(I broke my "flesh" fast and had some of the delicious trout from Rio Intag who I thanked for sacrificing their lives for our wellbeing). We also ate platanos (a type of banana, cooked in various exquisite ways), yuca (a potato-like tuber, which is prepared in many ways) and many other delicious delicacies.
More photos in Intag:
If you look at the first photo with the huge prominent rock on the other side of Rio Intag, this is the same rock Adelaida and German are waving from, taking in some sun. To get there, they crossed the bridge that you see further down among the photos.
Path from our room.
Kenisha at the gate to Tierra & Sol (you can see the "Sol" part of the sign)
The six of us at breakfast in the lodge -- from the left Joshua, Kenisha, Adelaida, German, Amrita, me
Kenisha and Adelaida
Kenisha and I heading up to a garden owned by Tierra & Sol of bananas, pineapples, coffee (Intag is known for their delicious beans), yuca, corn, etc.
Amrita heading up to the garden
Me, Joshua, Adelaida on a hike
Hanging out in the thermal pools
More hiking, crossing the Rio Intag
Amrita, Adelaida, German and I also went to another beautiful pueblo and area called Zuleta, where the indigenous women are known for their beautiful embroidery.
German is enjoying the wood furniture of an "artesano" in Zuleta
Adelaida and I
An imprompteau picnic in the country surrounding Zuleta (German took the photo)
Barriga llena, corazon contento (full stomach, happy heart).
A few miscellaneous photos:
Amrita and I heading out (watch out world!) The front house is owned by an American couple, Cassandra and Julian, who have started the first micro-brewery in Imbabura province in their B & B, Rio Blanco Bed & Brew. Ours is the back house.
Amrtia taking a juice break from helping mow the front yard
A nice fire going in the front room
Fanicita, a dear friend and very special woman, with a deep sense of service to others, modeling a hand-made hat
Kenisha, Amrita and me in the kitchen at home
Amrita and Joshua
Amrita's amazing hair, in a dressy style (Josh and Adelaida in the background)
Saturday, January 19, 2013
I the Teachings as expressed by Eckhart Tolle!
Life continues to careen toward the Center in all its fierce beauty, and I'm holding on for dear life, mostly enjoying the ride.
I decided to post a few more miscellaneous photos for no particular reason, other than the fact that I'll be able enjoy the record of them many moons from now, and perhaps they will bring a smile to your face as well.
My very precocious and lovely teenage god daughter, Amrita, who displays with great flourish *all* the qualities of adolescence
A couple more photos of Adelaida from our hike this week (Amrita's engaging, bright mom -- no wonder Amrita's the way she is LOL)
Travelers from Oregon who arrived from San Agustin, Colombia and styed a few days before continuing their journey...old friends of Adelaida and German (Adelaida's partner, Amrita's dad, who is currently in San Agustin, Colombia)
Amrita, Adelaida and Donald examining the delicious lunch that we're about to eat, prepared for us by two of the young travelers. They're on the patio of the rustic home I normally stay in out in the country with Adelaida and Amrita
Imbabura Volcano (15,190'), for which the northern province I sojourn in is named. I took this photo one early morning from the terraza of the cottage I'm staying in while I cat sit. Can you see the famous heart which nature carved out of the far right side just above the shadow?
Speaking of the kitties --
Mother Suzie, foreground, and son Moonboy
Moonboy crawling through the window...the way they go in and out of the house
The back gardens (for some reason I didn't get any shots of the front gardens, different and also very lovely) that Suzie and Moonboy play in around the cottage (Cheryl is quite the gardener (I've been enjoying harvesting kale, her only vegetable among all the flowers) --
"Lemon tree very pretty...."
A nice spot for morning coffee (or up on the terraza)
I paid $2.25 for this fruit, each piece much larger than it appears in the photo -- three sweet papayas, three lucious mangoes, and one succulent avocado --
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