Book 2 Chapter 22::Table of Contents::Chapter 24

Chapter 23
Ruins of Ingapirca
Cuenca
To the Border

SUN FEB 4.

Only to be awakened by roosters a couple hours later.

Before the sun had even thought of lightening the horizon, the radio came back on. Then as the first stars were winking out, the giggling Ecuadorians awoke and started talking. I held out until it looked like morning might be around the corner, and then resigned myself to getting up. My head cold was back due to the cold floor and I had an ache in my left lung from sleeping crooked or something. Every time I took a deep breath I got a stabbing pain in my back.

The first order of business was to roll up some more 200 ASA. One of the cassettes I used had a very loose top which popped off just as I’d finished loading it. That’s one roll down the drain and no more extra cassettes for 200. I finally got some film loaded successfully and then it was time for breakfast. Eggs, spuds, coffee & bread.

The curator had shown up, having spent the night somewhere else. He was obsessed with the idea of us taking some telephoto shots of the ruins for him, and even went so far as to send his wife off to Cañar to buy film. It was a beautiful clear - cold morning and we set off to the ruins, the 3 of us, at about 7:30. Our first stop was a scenic overlook where we could see the main “temple” catching the 1st rays of sun.

The 1st ruins we went to were not Inca, but Cañar. Our guide pulled some potsherds from the dirt and gave them to N. This 1st ruin was nothing more than a series of squares bordered by 2 ’ rough rock walls with a stella-like rock in the center (without carvings, in fact there was no carving, bas - reliefs, frescos, frieze - work, or any ornamental stone work of any kind, anywhere).

Then we went off to the temple itself. This was Inca and the stone work showed it. We wanted to take a photo showing how tight the stones fit together. 1st we had to find a place where we could insert a knife blade between 2 stones. No mortar, the stones are just set together, in places you couldn’t get a razor blade between the stones. The temple was in the shape of an ellipse that supposedly followed the path of the sun. Surrounding the temple were more ruins of second-class stone work like the first we’d seen.

We were taken up to another small site that was supposedly the bath of the Inca, a tub-like affair surrounded by small step-like pools. From there we could look down into a field below and see the chair of the Inca, a carved cube with a hollow shaped like a seat in the top. From there we walked down and saw the “face of the Inca”, a natural rock formation that, in profile, looked remarkably like a man. By this time my lung and head were combining to give me pain. I came back to the main site while N & the “inspector”, who had just shown up, went around looking at more things. He [1] took extensive notes.

After a while I began to feel better so N & I walked over to a small rest. and ordered some 7-UPs from the lady outside. We sat there on the steps sipping colas, talking to a couple little kids. Our curator had gone off to see if his wife had returned with the film. She hadn’t. N walked up the hill and took the telephoto shots with our film, telling the guy we’d send him copies when we got them processed.

I walked back to the rest., packed up my gear, and laid down on the bed, waiting for N to return. He got back about 12 and so did the guy’s wife. But we were set on leaving for Cuenca. The truck she came in on took us to Cañar. The guy drove like a mad-man, bouncing us around the back and using the whole road around corners. [2] He finally dropped us off on the other side of Cañar at the P.A. highway. Another fellow was waiting there too. He told us there were no busses and he’d been waiting all morning for a ride. We stuck out our thumbs and very quickly got a ride [3] to Biblion or something. We walked thru town and made a stand on the other side. Again, very quickly a fellow stopped and took us (inside his car) all the way to Cuenca.

We told him we were looking for the Res. Inca. He didn’t know that one but stopped and asked somebody where it was. He dropped us off right in front. We checked it out but they had no rooms. We walked back toward the market we’d passed coming in, thinking cheap places would be there. We got as far as the Res. Atenas, a relatively nice place with hot water, beds, and no roosters for 63 S each. This seemed high but we didn’t want to walk all over town with our packs. We checked in and then strolled the rest of the way to the market. We looked in a couple places that turned out to be more expensive, and then found the Pension Norte for 30 - 25 each, depending on the room. It’s basic but we’ll move there tomorrow.

We bought some fruit and had a seco-plate for 10 S in the market. Avoiding balcony balloon bombers, we came back to the res and N showered while I crashed. I awoke about sunset and ate some bread and dulce. Then I showered (nice hot water) and wrote while N worked on Gravity’s RAINBOW. We discussed the fastest and cheapest way of getting to Peru, read some more & then crashed.

MON FEB 5.

Awoke brite and early, packed our stuff up, and moved over to the Pension Norte.

From there we went around the corner and got some breakfast. We located the bus company to take us to the border (93S each), the IETEL office, and the Post Office where we mailed some letters. Thus we had all our business completed by 9 AM, a new world’s record. We grabbed our cameras and headed out into the sunshine. We looked all over for, and finally found, the Tourist Office. There we found out the only worth while museum in town is closed because the curator is sick. So we sat in the park, reading the paper and oogling the girls.

About noon we came back to the res where I was struck by a fit of fatigue and crashed out. N sat outside the room talking with a couple guys. He went to the market and got goods for dinner. Then the 2 guys decided to take us out to a movie. I woke up and off we went to see first, The Eagle Has Landed, a cheesy war flick that leaves you with the feeling the movie never happened. The second film was actually better, it was a film about the animal life in the desert and plain of S. W. Africa. The mentality of the Ecud. was such that, when a scene of 2 monkeys being swept away by a flash flood, struggling to cling to a log and the log overturns, all the crowd broke up with laughter. No sympathy for drowning animals at all. One scene was funny, however. All the animals ate fermented fruit and got drunk. They were staggering about, falling down, and acting just like the native Indians at the Sunday Market.

After the flicks we came back to the res. and cooked up a monster batch of tuna surprise. We couldn’t eat all of it. [4] One of the fellows who took us to the movie was very impressed with our alcohol stove. He took it out and showed it to everybody. He wants to borrow it tomorrow and see how much it would cost to have one made.

After dinner, there being nothing else to do, we tried to go to sleep with the radio playing right outside our door and the hall- light shining in my eyes. Finally, much tossing & turning later, I dropped off to many bizarre dreams. That’s what no pot will do.

TUES FEB6.

Awoke to the same radio playing outside the door.

I don’t know what it is, but Ecud. only seem to play the radio in the evening when you’re trying to sleep and then again in the morning to wake up the roosters. We made up a big batch of avena for breakfast. About half way thru our preparations the fellow from yesterday came in with a big glass of coconut milk and some white stuff he called coconut butter. We tested some of the “butter” and put some of the milk on our avena, along with some orange marmalade. We made up too much avena and invited the kid who sits at the desk in for some.

After breakfast N. got involved in writing a long letter to his folks. I wrote some post cards. Then about noon, still feeling slightly under the weather from my cold, and feeling quite bored, I went to sleep. The best time of day to sleep around here seems to be from 12 - 2 it’s the quietest. I got up at 2 and N was still writing, getting into a long description of Ingapirca with circles and arrows, etc. So I went over to the bus company and bought tickets for tomorrow to Huaquillas. Then to the P.O. to mail my cards. I got back and N was still writing. I sat around, did a little writing in this book, and waited for him to finish. I also loaded up the rest of the 200 into cassettes. No more bad ones.

He finally finished with his letter and we headed off to the P.O. about 5. Got the letter mailed and wandered about the streets looking for a place to eat. We were a little early, as most folks don’t eat dinner ’til about 7. The sky was beginning to blacken and we decided to come back to the Pension and wait out the rain. We stopped at a pasteleria and made it back just as the clouds opened up.

A little after 6 the rain had let up enough to allow us to go out and again look for food. We wound up going to a sea-food place and ordering up chaulafan. It was supposed to have chicken in it but it amounted to mostly skin and gristle. 2 other gringos came in and ordered fish. They had to send it back to the kitchen as it was still raw. A first class rest. with last class food. After “dinner” we went over to the IETEL office to call LaC. I wound up waiting almost an hour (N had to rush back to the shitter) and when the call finally went thru, nobody was home. So I came back,

N busied himself cutting articles out of the paper to send to his ma, and we finally crashed. Just as we had laid down to sleep, some asshole came along, sat down at the front desk right outside our door, and turned on his radio full blast. N broke up laughing at the guy’s perfect timing, and I went out and asked him to turn it down. He had to turn it down so he could hear my request for lower volume. Thus we finally got to sleep.

WED FEB 7,

Awoke and had a breakfast of bread, marmalade, and tea.

N had cut out some newspaper clippings to send to his mother. He’d also added some more to a card to Eve & Ann to be sent to Guat. City. We took these cards and letters over to the P.O. From there we walked over to find the only open museum in Cuenca. It’s called the Crespo Museo in honor of the poet-laureate of Cuenca. It contains memorabilia of the guy’s life & letters (the museo is in his house) There’s also a selection of statues of Christ on the cross all complete with much blood and attention to gore. In another room are busts of historical figures in Ecuador’s past, along with paintings of their deeds. There’s a flight jacket and memorabilia of the 1st guy to fly over the Andes, a room with a large coin collection, and some more or less modern paintings by Cuenca artists. Our tour was guided by 2 ladies, the 1st looked like a ghost, with white make up, of ancient age. The 2nd was more or less normal. The whole thing was marginally interesting.

From the museo we strolled around down towards the river, looking for the reported Inca ruins there. They were not to be found. So we walked back to the res and started packing our stuff up for Peru. Once everything was washed and put away, I discovered that somewhere I’d lost my little hunting knife. No great loss but I can’t figure out where it could have gone. I thought I had it upon leaving Baños.

After packing we both took a little snooze ’til about 1. Then we stashed our packs in the store room at the end of the hall, and went out to find some lunch. We went to a rest. near the park that we’d looked in yesterday. There were several school kids eating there so we joined them. We had what Ecuadorians must consider a good, but we considered a marginal meal. The soup was bean, the burger was veggie (“There must be a speck of meat in it”, N said. “I just picked it out of my teeth”) A little bowl of swelled corn, another of potats & innards, and a jugo, all for 30S. We felt ripped-off. Then off to the IETEL O. to call LaC. Nobody home.

So we sat in the park looking at the girls. I sat in the grass until a park official came along and told me to sit on the bench. So I sat on the bench, fending off the shoe shine boys. When they found out I didn’t want a shine, they’d ask me to give them a suc anyway. We’ve noticed that Cuenca has more Albinos than any other town we’ve seen. We saw at least 6 - 8 during the last 2 days. Must be something in the water. A couple hours of parking later, we went back to call LaC. Nobody home.

Back to the park for another couple hours. About 6PM I decided to give LaC one last chance. Finally, I got thru to John & Mom. Dad was out running. The connection was shaky at first, John got cut off but we were reconnected. Everybody is more or less well. Grand. M had a slight heart attack and they were at the hospital which was why nobody was home last nite. But she’s doing well.

After talking for a while, I bid goodby and N & I went back to claim our packs. We took them over to the bus company and stashed them in the back room. Then down the street for a typical (better than the a-typical lunch) dinner. We topped the meal with some poor pasteles from some little kids who were selling door to door, and some popcorn from the store next door. Then back to the bus station. We loaded on the packs, found our seats, and got underway.

The 1st adventure was with the lady in front of me. She put her seat back and crushed my kneecaps. I implored her not to break my legs, but to no avail. Then N. tried and succeeded for a short while. I managed to slide my feet under her seat, relieving the pressure. Our route took us back towards Cañar and for a while we wondered if we’d end up in Quito. The road was good but the weather was lousy. It was rainy and foggy. Plus the fact that the windshield wiper kept getting stuck. The driver had to pound on the front window every 30 secs to keep it going.

The ride proceeded uneventfully until Machala when, due to extreme pressure placed by me trying to relieve my sweating ass, my seat broke. It no longer went up and down, just down, to the great dismay of the fellow sitting behind me. But luckily for him he got off in Machala. I moved to a seat farther back that still functioned. Just outside Huaquillas we had to get out and present our passports to a police official. He was sitting at his little box-office there by the road with a lady and another lady in uniform. The uniform was the same color as his and at first I thought her to be another soldier, but on closer inspection I saw “Los Angeles Police Dept.” embroidered across her tits.

Shortly thereafter we pulled into the bus parking lot in Huaq. We left at 8 and got there about 3:30AM. Everybody was allowed to sleep on the bus ’til 6 . I tried to make myself comfortable but a 6’ gringo into a 3’ busted bus seat don’t go. I wound up laying on my back with my legs crossed yoga style up against the window.


[1]   N

[2]   He charged us 10S each, 5 for us & 5 for our packs.

[3]   in the back of a Toyota pickup

[4] On the wall of this room was a graffiti signed by Leslie and Amy. N couldn’t help but think that this was his Leslie from San A. We tried to check it out with the desk but they had no records  from last year.

Book 2 Chapter 22::Table of Contents::Chapter 24