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On the road in Ecuador (#6, Ecuador, 2013)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A hundred blossoming white lotus flowers
for you, a Buddha-to-be.

Please substitute "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 Tecnol�gico 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:

Librer�a 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

Loveliness personified

#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 M�xico.

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, Bogot�, Arequipa, Medell�n, 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 , 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!
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