Friday, August 2, 2013

Jennifer in Ecuador - Ingapirca

We went to Ingapirca today. What an amazing site! Ingapirca is the remains of an Incan temple site, originally occupied by the Cañari people. The Cañari are a subset of the Quechuas who inhabit South America. The Cañari indigenous still live around Ingipirca and it was a neat experience to get to see them going about their business. They still dress in the traditional manners, which for the women is more distinctive than the men. The women wear white bowler hats, a beautiful and colorful beaded skirt, a shawl or a poncho, stockings and nice shoes. There is an interesting history behind the white bowler hats. and apparently in the 1920's British railway workers brought the hat to South America and it quickly caught on with the Quechua people. I think that it is really interesting that something introduced so long ago is still used today. I don't think those British fellows really envisioned all of the Quechua women wearing their hats!

The temple called Ingapirca was built to worship the sun. The entire site is elliptical, mimicking the movement of the Earth around the sun. I did some research and Ingapirca is the only elliptically constructed Incan site. There aren't really any buildings left except for a replica of a typical house that the Incans would have lived in. The main building is the actual temple in the center of the site. The houses were arranged around the temple in order of importance. Shamans and priests were closest, as well as the revered women of the community. These women were prized as the most intelligent and wise members of the community. We were also shown communal areas such as where they cooked, ate and had ceremonies.

Ingapirca is very important to the culture of both Ecuador and South America. Our guide explained very eloquently that even though there are many different types of people who live in Ecuador, sites like Ingapirca unite them through history. He stated that places like Ingapirca and the thousands of years of history in Ecuador are in his and every Ecuadorian's blood and consequently are very sacred to them. I was touched by his explanation and I felt in a way that I could understand his feelings because I feel the same way about many places in South Carolina. Both the Lowcountry and the Upcountry are in my blood and it makes me who I am.
Ingapirca is also significant because it is a prime example of Incan architecture. The thing is, historians do not know how they managed to construct Ingapirca with the technology that they had at their disposal. Each piece of rock perfectly fits together and stands without mortar. It's astounding that to this day we still don't know how they did it.

There is a rock at Ingapirca that is said to hold the power of La Madre Tierra (mother earth). Touching it will heal you of your health problems and grant you luck in the future. We touched it, and I have to say that perhaps there was something to that rock. Maybe it was the power of suggestion, maybe not. The rock was very warm and as I touched it I thought about how throughout human history this rock had been there, witnessing it all. I get a little melodramatic at historical sites but I was impacted by being at such significant place.

The area around Ingapirca is very picturesque. It's about an hour and a half from Cuenca and the land is very rural, primarily inhabited by farmers. It is very mountainous but somehow the inhabitants manage to grow crops there. The rolling hills and grass reminded me of the United States. It really was breathtaking up there, with the journey on the bus being as engaging as the destination.

It's a little chilly but with a few layers it wasn't too bad. The altitude is quite high and the weather has a mind of its own. It is able to go from sunny to rain in about ten minutes and then back to sunny again.

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