As I returned to La Cuadra II one day last week, the power was temporarily out. Since the elevator wasn't working, I climbed the stairs. Upon ascending the stairs I met Valerie. Suddenly the power was restored, and Valerie invited me to meet her husband, Wil. I dropped by briefly for introductions, and then this week stopped by their condo for an evening of conversation. Talk about six degrees of separation! What were the odds that Valerie and Wil, who not only live in Cuenca, but also reside on the same floor in the same building in Cuenca as myself; would be from the same city of Valparaiso back in the states? We never knew each other in Valparaiso. We had to come to Cuenca to meet. Wil and Valerie are busily renovating a second floor residence in colonial El Centro, where they plan to move upon its completion. They both want to be closer to the action. I wish them the best in their endeavor.
I had a very fine dinner last night with Brian and Shelley at their place, as we also visited with Orilla and Garth from Canada. Brian and Shelley have really been great to me, and I very much appreciate their friendship and kindness. Freddi was her perfect self, and Brian really knows how to handle himself in the kitchen.
Today Gil, Deborah, and myself were driven up to Ingapirca by Fabian Aris Borque. For anyone new to Cuenca, or may be planning to travel to Cuenca in the near future, Fabian is your go-to hombre for travel excursions, and he will even pick you up in Guayaquil and transport you to Cuenca from the Guayaquil Airport if you so desire. Fabian speaks fluent English, has lived in the states, Chicago, of course. Fabian is amiable, and knows his way around Cuenca and all the outlying sites, and his rates are reasonable. His telephone number is 0991 078 135. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org. He is well-known and well-respected in the expat community.
We were blessed with a young Ecuadorian guide, Susanna, who spoke fluent English, and who had the challenge of presenting the entire 90 minute tour in both English and Spanish to accommodate the language needs of people in her group. Ingapirca is the largest and oldest Inca ruin in Ecuador. Typical of human history; one group, the Incas, conquer another group, the Canari. Intermarriage and assimilation of cultures take place. Unfortunately, for the Incas, their ascendancy in Ecuador lasted less than a century, as they would soon give way to their conquest by the Spaniards.
The ride back to Cuenca was exciting. Fabian knows the back roads, when road construction becomes a travel problem. What prevents him from frequently replacing his shocks, axles, and suspension system as he maneuvers around and through the pot holes, gravel roads, and uneven road inclinations is beyond me. Fabian jockeys for position in typical Ecuadorian driving-style around autos and trucks which approach each other on one lane roads; while mental determination is made as to who sits, who moves in reverse, who attempts to pass whom in the narrow corridor of dusty rural roads. I love it! Fabian was at his finest moment like the matador who challenges the bull who rears forward at the site of the matador's cape, as Fabian waits for a truck to pass him and as he encourages the driver on. The driver for better or for worse thought better of the challenge, and put his truck in reverse and pulled back to a point where before he had the opportunity to bring himself to a halt, Fabian was already racing around him. I did see a site I never expected to observe in Ecuador. One driver actually stopped and waved for us to make the turn first. The main highway is being reconstructed and widened, and should be quite nice once the construction work is completed. Meantime, traffic in two directions often in one lane--very interesting, very interesting, indeed. Yet the negotiation of transportation seems to ultimately work itself out just fine among all the drivers.
The trip back from Ingapurca is especially nice. We were now moving from a higher altitude to a lower altitude. As we descended, we were able to experience the full appreciation of the beautiful landscape from a panoramic view. We could see just how rich the farmland is, and the multiples of truck farm products to which the soil is put to use. We were amazed at the numbers of homes along the mountainsides, and the large number of new homes that have or were being built. The weather also warmed, and we began to strip off the extra layers of clothes that were definitely needed in the higher altitude of Ingapirca, which also proved to be quite windy.
We eventually made our way back to Cuenca and the entire excursion, which included about an hour for lunch took about seven hours. Our lunch at Ingapirca was the traditional Ecuadorian meal: a big bowl of the delicious potato soup, beef, rice, potatoes, and a fresh fruit juice drink. The meal for all four of us was just seven dollars.
Unfortunately, our return to Cuenca meant saying "Hasta luego" to Gil and Deborah, who are returning to San Francisco on Friday, and will not return to Cuenca until November. Their departure was also a reminder of my own soon-to-be departure, as the sand in the hour-glass is quickly receding. Hopefully, we will all be together again.