The ride from Cuenca to Banos was one of our longest days. It was beautiful & definitely another one of my favorites. We traveled 403 km through small towns, cities, farmland, and high mountain ranges. Our lowest elevation was just under 6,000 feet and we climbed well over 14,000 for a perfect view of Chimborazo late in the day.
We allowed ourselves 10 hours of ride time with stops and we squeaked into Banos just after sunset.
After getting out of Cuenca, we stopped at the Ingapirca Ruins. It is amazing to me that the Inca people were able to accurately tell time, seasons, and pinpoint the equinox. It was a great tour! Our guide was a passionate story teller. He said he was Canari and Spaniard. He told us about the Canari people who worshiped the moon and all of their architecture was round. The Inca people worshiped the sun, and their architecture was square. When the Inca people were not able to conquer the Canari, they offered gifts, married into their families and slowly took over. At this site we could see the square structures built over the top of the Canari ruins.
We rode through the Canar province where we saw so many people in their colorful, traditional clothing. I wish I had stopped to take more pictures of the people. We saw hard working farmers, women working with their children in the gardens, and miles of beautiful farms high on the steep hills.
In Alausi the people were also dressed in very colorful clothes. There were lots of school kids today in uniforms too. We found people here were much more likely to smile & wave at us than they were in some other regions. We stopped here for lunch at a small fried chicken spot called El Pollo Vaquero. The owner spoke a little English & was happy to visit with us. Shawn & I decided to share a 1/2 chicken meal with fries & a salad. He added on some sausage. When the single meal came, it was HUGE. The owner was so happy we were there & that we liked his food, he gave us the sausage for free. I wanted to pay him. The meal was already really affordable & I felt bad not paying him for everything he gave us. The people in Ecuador have been so gracious and friendly. It is humbling given the amount of poverty here.
At lunch, our chicken & sausages were cooking in a roaster like you might see at a large grocery store. The sausages tasted like hot dogs, but they were cut open so the edges were crispy. After days of eating fish, we were really happy to have food that was more familiar!
After lunch we started climbing up towards Chimborazo, the highest mountain in Ecuador. The mountain is 20,564 feet high. Although it is not the highest mountain in elevation above sea level, the equatorial bulge makes its summit the farthest point on the Earth’s surface from the Earth’s center. The weather was perfect & we were able to take some amazing pictures of the mountain and the wild vicuna, a relative of the llama and camel. I am so thankful we had such a great day. Later we heard that the Canadians and the guy we met from New York rode through here a day behind us on a cold, rainy day & they weren’t able to see the mountain. We have been so fortunate!