One night stand

Trip Start Dec 03, 2005
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Trip End Jul 19, 2007


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Flag of Ecuador  ,
Tuesday, June 6, 2006

My adventure was about to take a new turn. Although I had spent ten days in Bolivia I didn´t really get to see much of her mountains. Now it was time for a change and I headed off towards the longest mountain range known as the Andes, the home of Joe Simpson's almost fateful adventures. All I could hope was that I would have better luck as I planned to test my fitness levels (or lack thereof) and climb some of her prominent peaks.

I said goodbye to Riccardo and caught an overnight bus to La Paz for my first plane ride in four and a half months. Something felt wrong when I boarded the plane and it took me a while to realise what. Unlike normal, for this plane ride I was already on holiday and not just about to start one. Although the term 'holiday' might be questionable with all the hard work each day involves. I will have to get around to explaining that some other time as I'm sure most of you think it's all just a larf. But for now...

The flight went over Lake Titicaca which was on my list of places to visit and I kept my beady eyes open for Machu Picchu but had no luck in spotting it. Nay worries though as it was also in my plans to visit some time in the next month. So anyway, back to the point... It was Easter weekend and the airline had kindly decided to overbook the Lima - Quito section of flight so everyone missed the connection. Personally I wouldn't have minded a free night with food but there were some people who had booked a trip to the Galápagos so they had to leave that day. In all the commotion, I got talking to Martha for some advice on how to get to the centre of Quito alive as I heard some bad things about it. Any fears I may have had were quashed when Martha invited me to spend some time with her and meet her family. Obviously she didn't know what she was letting herself in for but I didn't say anything! What fantastic people! They wouldn't let me pay for anything and wouldn't even let me clear the dishes away after lunch or dinner. I felt like a Queen! Then while all the adults talked about grown-up things, I helped Catarina build a volcano for her school project for which she got top marks in her class.

My reign had to come to an end and I headed north for the well known Otavalo Saturday market. To be honest, to me, it was just the same as the weekday market but just bigger with more tourists.

* STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *

For those of you who know me, I recommend sitting down for this announcement. For those of you who don't, I recommend just skipping it.

Are you seated?

I have just finished reading a book!!!!!!

Yes, you read right. A feat I would almost describe as being harder than climbing a mountain! It only took me from Salvador in Brazil to Otavalo but hey, I still managed to finish it without skipping any pages and without reading the end first! Even stranger, I really enjoyed it and totally recommend it - The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. A great storyteller who keeps the story alive and interesting. If you have any opinions on zoos, this is a good one to read. All I can say is that I hope the same doesn't happen to me!

* STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *** STOP PRESS *

So after a relaxing bout along the coast it was back to Quito to find myself a guide for the first of the two mountains I had come to Ecuador to climb - Cotopaxi (5897m / 19347ft). First though I had to get myself acclimatised so I headed up the Pichinchas on the teleférico and then a bit further to 4600m (15092ft). On my way up and their way down I met Rob and Aaron who had signed themselves up for a 3 day trek around Cotopaxi with Aaron continuing on with a climb to the summit. This sounded right up my street so I invited myself along!

Unlike the Annapurna Circuit or Kilimanjaro which take anything from five days to two weeks to conquer, Cotopaxi could pretty much be described as a one night stand. It only takes two days in total, you get all excited on the first day getting to the refugio, reaching the summit that night and then slowly coming back down to earth, exhausted, when it's all over while all the time it just takes your breath away!

On the first day of our tour around the volcano we only ventured to 3800m (12467ft) and visited the Inca ruins of El Salitre. Was doing well, no feelings of altitude sickness so far. Day two and we headed a bit further up and climbed El Condor (officially known as Rumiñahui) to 4600m (15092ft). While coming down from the top, I couldn't help but think of some injustices in the world, one of them concerning the last three hundred metres to the top of El Condor. How can it possibly be fair to take ninety minutes to climb only three hundred metres when all it takes to come back down is a mere twelve minutes???? I had to ask Rob and Aaron several times to make sure it was the altitude that was affecting me! On the last day of the warm up trek, we headed to the carpark below the refugio climbing another 200m further to the bottom of a glacier on Cotopaxi itself, at a height of 5000m (16404 ft). The refugio itself is at 4800m (15748ft) which is the height of Mont Blanc in France! Climbing this far and there was still no altitude sickness. Things were looking good as it was only another 897m (2943ft) further to the top! How hard could it be???

More like...how wrong could I be??? Was I mad? Why would anyone go and pay to put themselves through the pain of sore legs and oxygenless air at high altitude? As it happens quite a lot of people do! But fret not my dears, all those who think they know it all seem to think Cotopaxi is relatively easy (due to having relatively more oxygen due to the earth's bulge). Relative is right. Relative to how much ice-climbing you've done! This was my first ever climb with ice-axe and crampons. And crampons all the way it was! I had played around on the Fox glacier in New Zealand before but it was nothing like this. I'm convinced the slopes were almost ninety degrees and every time I looked up to see how long it was before it flattened out, it kept moving further and further away! Maybe there was a leprechaun who was a bit confused as to where he was supposed to be? Or maybe there was an invisible rainbow at the end of the track? Anys the way, we left at 1am. Crossing over crevasses and under overhangs with icicles we made it to the top at 6:45! The last thing I could think of was taking photos, but I eventually summed up the energy to gather proof of my conquest.

Despite almost quitting three times on the way up and thinking that nothing could possibly be harder, there was - the way back down! I almost quit nine times going down!!! There were so many more photos that I wanted to take on the way back down, but it was so steep and I was so focussed on not falling head over heels (or crampons, in this case) that I never really got the chance. By the time we reached the refugio, my legs had turned to jelly.

Mad I may have been to do that, but even madder was the idea that I wanted to do Chimborazo aswell! After all, it was only another 400m (1312ft) and the refugio was 200m (656ft) higher than Cotopaxi's which meant a difference of only 200m! How hard could it be?

But as I had learnt with Cotopaxi, marry in haste and repent at leisure! Well, maybe flirt rather than marry. But either way, I certainly needed some time to recoup my energy. So while lounging carefree in Quito, I had the delight of meeting up with David again (from the Roraima trek in Venezuela), after just missing each other by a day a few weeks beforehand. It was good to catch up and as it turns out, he should be in Santiago de Chile when I get there so no doubt there will be lots more tales to tell by then!

During my time of relaxation and recuperation, I decided to do the Latacunga Loop visiting another indigenous market (although much less touristy than Otavalo) in Zumbahua and then a trek from Chugchilan to Laguna Quilotoa, doing a six hour trek in three hours. I might be able to give myself a pat on the back, but it's definitely hats off to Sebastian who managed to do it whilst carrying his backpack of at least 15kg! He did have the advantage of long legs though. Despite it being more difficult, the reward of the view of the laguna is definitely better doing this trek uphill from Chugchilan to Quilotoa rather than the other way round. Afterwards, on the way back to Chugchilan on the bus, I was treated to a hair-raising trip on an unpaved road where the bus is, at times, only inches away from the edge of a precipice as steep as Cotopaxi with a heavy load on top and leaning towards the outside due to the uneven surface!

Leaving Chugchilan by bus is only possible at the ridiculous hour of three in the morning. There is a milk float that leaves at nine but then you don't get to Latacunga until five in the evening and have pretty much wasted the entire day (although at least you get to have a look at the view on the way). So wanting to make the most of the day, I caught the one at three and headed to Baños in the hope of finding some other fool who wanted to climb Chimborazo. No luck. But I still had one more chance of finding someone. Riobamba is also a base for climbs to Chimborazo. Before heading down there though I paid a visit to Taty (Martha's niece) in Ambato for a few days.

Unfortunately though I am the bearer of sad news. My beloved Bitzer has been toynapped. The exact location of his toynap is unknown but it has been narrowed down to Baños and Ambato. If anyone has seen him can they please let me know that he is safe and well? He was a lovely toy and despite his rough-around-the-edges look, he wouldn't harm a fly. News of his whereabouts would be very much appreciated!

So after much searching, I left Ambato for Riobamba, Bitzerless and with a heavy heart. Travelling alone just isn't the same. :,-( No luck in Riobamba either for finding a fool so I left my email address with some agencies and headed off to Guaranda and Salinas to find some chocolate, always good when you're in need of some comfort food!

Salinas is renowned for it's cheese and chocolate as well as wool products. I caught the bus (why do they only offer silly hours, this one I had to catch at seven in the morning!) asking the driver if he stopped in Salinas. Yup, he said. So I hopped on. One hour later, I found myself dumped on the road miles from Salinas (and Guaranda for that matter) due to roadworks. This I didn't know until over two hours of walking later. The Salvatierra family from Guayaquil were on a holiday in the area aswell (it was a bank holiday for May 24th, Ecuador's independence day) so when the bus driver assured us that Salinas was "cerquita" (ie, VERY near) we took his word for it and headed off towards a little village we thought was the one we were looking for. Oh what fools were we (not of the mountain kind though). The village we had pointed to was not Salinas. Upon asking someone there how long it would be walking, he told us 30 minutes. One hour later, someone else said at least another hour. Thirty minutes later, it would be another forty-five minutes! So after two hours and fifteen minutes of walking, a pickup going in the right direction finally passed us by (naturally, all the ones so far were leaving Salinas) and we arrived to the sound of a band playing, as if to commend us for our valient effort. How delightful, a personal welcome! As much as I'd like to think so, it wasn't. It was some anniversary for the village. And guess what?

After getting up at some silly hour and after catching a bus with a bus driver who doesn't know the meaning of "cerquita" and after walking for two hours and fifteen minutes - everything was closed!!!!! $%#@*!!!!!! Luckily, there were still some places that had a small representation of what the factory had to offer so I quickly filled a bag with what was available and then we headed back to Guaranda. But hey, I met some really nice people and it was a nice day. Blue skies, fluffy white clouds and thirty nine shades of green (well, only Ireland can have forty shades, I hear it's the quality of dung (world's best in fact!!!) that produces the exclusive shade of emerald).

Raquel lived in the village next to Guaranda and mentioned a concert that was on nearby on Sunday. So next day I caught the bus again(with no roadworks this time!) and found myself in a bullring, in a small village, in the mountains, listening to the current popchart in Ecuador with artists all the way from Uruguay.

With the weekend over it was time to head back to Riobamba and see if anyone else had turned up for Chimborazo. It would seem fate had intervened and put a stop to my silliness so I never found out how hard it could be to climb the highest mountain in the world (this bulge thing again). I guess Bolivia is going to be the lucky one that gets to hold my PB on heights when I, hopefully, break the 6000m (19684ft) barrier.

So rather than head upwards on my own power, I headed downwards on a train. The Nariz del Diablo to be exact (Devil's Nose). This is renowned for being a "hair-raising series of switchbacks that descends a whopping 800m (2625ft)" and rather than sitting inside as you do on a conventional train, you sit on the roof of the train. As we left Riobamba early in the morning the scenery quickly changed to countryside, passing through villages, fields and cemeteries along the way. Smells surprisingly included eucalyptus as we passed under hamlets of trees of the same name although I only noticed this more towards midday when the air heated up a little and layers could be removed. As a test to see how awake you were, you had to watch the way ahead as any minute you were likely to be hit by branches, overhead electric wires or the remains of fallen concrete structures.

And to the famous descent? Well, the "series" of switchbacks in fact consisted of just two in total and it wasn't really that hair-raising a'tall a'tall. I have now come to call my "bible" the "book of lies"! But hay, at least it didn't rain.

Ingapirca and Cuenca were next on my list. Ingapirca is the biggest remaining Inca site in Ecuador although many people say that it doesn't compare to those of Peru. I still decided to head off and have a look anyway as Peru isn't Ecuador and it would be a good introduction to what I was about to see in my next country. Speaking of Peru, it was within sight now. All I had left was Vilcabamba where I would work out how to get through the Zumba border crossing. The least used but supposedly very scenic.

And scenic it certainly was. I'm afraid it's one of those that pictures can't capture and words can't describe but suffice to say it was awe inspiring! I had met Noam on the way down to Loja and convinced him the Zumba border was much better than the one at Macará so we joined together for a day in Vilcabamba where the people are supposed to live to be over 100 due to the purity of the air and water. Then as we left the cabañas he said so casually, as if it were as ordinary as a trip into town, "let's go to Peru", so we did! Eight hours later we found ourselves on a bridge connecting two different countries, saying goodbye to the land famous for it's Galapagos Islands and hello to the land famous for it's Machu Picchu site.

Notes

Nationalities I have been mistaken for:

Dutch : They seem to have this thing about hearing Olanda rather than Irlanda and so think I'm Dutch!

Israeli : my Source sandals. Apparently Israelis first look at your feet to see if you're one of them as it is generally only Israelis who are found to be wearing Source brand sandals, which come from Israel!

Spanish : I would like to think it's because I'm just fab at speaking the lingo, but no, it's because the Spanish (lingo and pronunciation) I speak is from Spain rather than these 'ere parts. Eg manzana (apple) is pronounced mansana here while it is more like manthana (in the style of 'doth') in Spain.

Swiss : my Sigg bottle

Argentinian : ???? Couldn't quite work that out, maybe it's the fairer skin?

Ecuador

What a fantastic place and people! It has been hard work resisting the temptation to buy so many things and just post them home. I have my next two week holiday already planned! I had met two fantastic families which reminded me of my time in Belém when I had met the Pinhos. This is part of what my trip is about, meeting the real people of the country, the people who live there.

Ecuador is definitely the greenest country I have been to in this set of travels. That is, green in the sense of the colour. I would go so far as to say that it is as green as Ireland, but I have been corrected on that saying that Ireland is even greener. Maybe it is because I have spent so long in countries that aren't quite so green that it looks like home to me?

It didn't really matter where I was but I found that just sitting on a bus and the people would start talking asking me what I had thought of their country. Unfortunately I didn't get to visit the Galapagós Islands this time round as they are out of my budget on this occasion but they are planned in my two week holiday.

Travel certainly worked out to be a lot cheaper than Brazil with it averaging about USD$1 per hour. Towards the north and on the way to the border near Zumba, I found people trying to take advantage of me being of foreign extraction and hiking the price up for a bit of profit, but I had learnt the tricks of the trade by now and already knew the price before boarding. Funnily enough, they try to up the price and down the time it takes to get there so a journey that costs USD$5 for five hours will take only four hours and cost USD$6.50!!!! Hmmm, I don't think so!

Luckily I had just missed some road blockages due to some disagreements between American oil companies and the Ecuadorian government. The road blocks have since stopped but the disagreement goes on as far as I know.

All in all, I would have no hesitation in recommending it as a place to visit. Fitting it all in in two weeks (including the Galapagos) might be tough but it's definitely worth it.

Things I learned

THE LEGEND OF CANTUÑA & THE DEVIL (San Francisco church, Quito)
Cantuña, an indigenous man of hard work, was responsible for completing the construction of the San Francisco atrium. Threatened with being imprisioned for not finishing the work on time, he became desperate. Distressed by his misfortune, he walked the streets when suddenly he came upon a man dressed in red with a very sharp nose and beard who offered to finishe the work for him before the sun rose in exchange for his soul. At sunrise, the atrium was finished. Except for one stone, thanks to which Cantuña managed to save his soul and Satan disappeared down the road to hell!

Cotopaxi

1742 - 3 major eruptions after 208 years of inactivity. Latacunga was destroyed.
1743 - 2 eruptions. The one on 30/11 destroyed Latacunga and had considerable side effects on the Amazonian jungle.
1768 - 1 eruption. Destroyed Latacunga and the ash reached as far as Guayaquil and Colombia.
1877 - 4 eruptions. One was catastrophic and destroyed Latacunga.
1975 - A suddent warmup and the snow inside the crater almost disappeared (didn't destroy Latacunga!!!! ;-) )

FORMATION OF THE ANDES
Geolgists speculate that for the last 210 million years, after breaking from Africa, the South American continent is moving in a westerly direction. This brings it into contact with the eastern pacific Nazca plate which is moving eastwards. The Nazca plate is made of denser material and therefore slips below the South American plate while thrusting it upwards, forming the Andean cordillera, the longest mountain range in the world. Cotopaxi is the world's highest active volcano.

As the Nazca plate slides under the South American plate it carries with it water and marine sediments. The weight and friction caused at the interface of the two plates causes tremendous heat and pressure. Rock along the contact surface heats and expands. This expanding rock finds fractures in the plate above while pressure from below causes the material to flow freely as lava or when mixed with gas, the flow is pyroclastic. The type of product emitted is determined by temperature, pressure and the water found deep inside the earth.

Melted ice and glacial snow and water combines with and lubricates the ash (and rock) discharged producing a volcanic mud which plummets down the steep slopes with destructive force, often reaching the Pacific Ocean.

The elevation gradients created on the base, flanks and summits of the Andes in Ecuador offer a very diverse range of environments, including tropical mangroves, coastal deserts, rainforests, dry forests, páramo and permafrost. This diversity of environments give rise to 10% of the world's species.

Cotopaxi provides a steady supply of water for Quito, so steady in fact that there is no need for reservoirs in the event of drought. The Río de Valle Vicioso eventually finds it's way into the Amazon and onwards into the Atlantic.

Ingapirca
Ingapirca means "Inca wall" and the site is in the shape of a puma, similar to the sites in Cuzco and Machu Picchu. To the Incas, the puma was a symbol of strength.

The Cañari people were the first to occupy the site of Ingapirca from 900AD. The moon was their main god and all the silos (rooms used to store goods) were circular in the shape of a full moon. The Incas destroyed their houses when they decided they wanted to occupy this site as it was a good location for astronomy. They couldn't conquer the Cañari by force and so conquered by intermarriage.

A Cañari grave was found with eleven skeletons interred in a foetal position beside a calendar stone. It was found that of the eleven buried, one was a princess while the others that surrounded her were buried alive using the flower of the plant floripondio.

Within the site there is a temple of the moon with a temple of the sun facing it. Between the two is a ritual bath which was used to purify the soul before entering either temple. There is only one kitchen for an estimated two hundred people who lived there and those that lived there were the well to do type. The poor and farmers lived outside the complex in the surrounding mountains.

The incas built terraces on the slopes to prevent soil erosion and within these terraces they grew medicinal plants. Aqueducts to supply water were exposed. To compater, the Cañaris always built their aqueducts underground.

There was a sun and moon calendar which contained 28 holes of different shapes and sizes which were filled with water in order to read the days and months of the year. This was also used by the women for fertility planning as it matched the lunar cycle. The equinox (March and September) were the best months. Families living in the Ingapirca complex had only a maximum of four children which was evidence that the stone was used for family planning. Beside this were various stones which were used to create dyes. The main colours were red, brown, black and orange. Plants and blood were used to make these dyes.

Continuing on, there is a guillotine that is used only for animal sacrifices during celebrations for the sun and moon. June 21 was when the sun was celebrated and September 21 was the day the moon was celebrated. It is certain that this was not used for human sacrifice as all the skeletons found on site were found intact.

The castillo was built around a huge stone which the Spanish discovered in their quest to find gold hidden behind the stone wall. The walls were built of stones carved in perfect shape by the Incas. The blocks were cut on site. They were so perfect in fact that they did not need anything to hold them together. Part of the wall had to be reconstructed and modern man was unable to replicate the skills of the Incas and had to use mud to hold the stones together. These blocks are unfortunately being eroded away and it is estimated that only another ten or fifteen years remain before the building will collapse.

The castillo is built in an East - West direction for astronomical purposes. It was given an elliptical shape to match the rotation of the earth and it is the only temple in the world of such a shape.

Skulls were discovered with deformations that matched the shape of the temple, that is, elliptical. These deformations were only associated with the rich who used a wooden implement to cause the deformation.

And finally, if ever you were tempted to eat llama for dinner some day, bear in mind that their meat contains syphilis!

Ecuador

All the information below I gathered from the Museo del Banco Central, a fantastic museum. In fact, I would say it is by far the best I have seen so far on my travels!

The heights of the Andes cause a cooling effect which contrasts with Ecuador's location on the equator. The slopes of the mountains and the interior valleys have a temperate climate while the higher regions can be very cold and the summits of the highest mountains are perpetually covered in snow. Meanwhile, the lowlands either side of the Andes have a hot climate which corresponds to the latitude.

Along the coast there are two sea currents which collide on Ecuadorian shores, the warm El Níño from the north and the cold Humboldt from the south. This influences the rain pattern and can cause droughts or floods. This phenomenon is the well known El Niño.

There were many indigenous cultures that existed in Ecuador before the famous Incans conquered an extensive area of the western seaboard and interior of the South American continent in the fifteenth century.

PALAEOINDIANS (11000 - 4000BC)
These were hunter-gatherer people with many specialised tools made of stone materials including obsidian, basalt and flint. They lived in the highlands.

LAS VEGAS (10000 - 4000BC)
These were coastal people where they lived more on wild vegetables and molluscs. The practice of primitive agriculture began in 6000BC with the cultivation of some plants, for example, Indian corn, kidney bean, pumpkin and cotton. The seasonality of these vegetables mixed with the areas they exploited in the wild lead them to establish base camps which developed into permanent accomodation. They also show a concern for the dead with burials and cemeteries. Their tools and utensils were non-specialized.

MACHALILLA(1600 - 800BC)
These lived along the coast mostly and practiced intensive agriculture together with hunting, fishing and gathering. A characteristic custom of this culture is skull deformation for the purpose of ornamenting the head and also status display. In the tombs associated with this culture, the burials are covered by a ceramic turtle shell.

CHORRERA (900 - 100BC)
This was the most widespread culture in Ecuador. It formed a hierarchical society with extraordinary technical and artistical quality shown through the Chorrera pottery. Fruits, animals and humans are represented with a profusion of detail which makes this ceramic tradition unique in the native archaeology of Ecuador. The most interesting piece of pottery is the "whistle bottle" which reproduces the sounds of different animals when water is poured in and the air moves along the resonant box. They also have a certain technique of iridescence which no other culture surpasses in quality.

COCHASQUÍ CENTRE (1250 - 1500AD)
The ceremonial centre of Cochasquí is one of the most important archaeological complexes in the Caranquí territory and Ecuador. It includes many terraced pyramids of a quadrangular base, usually with a ramp at the entrance. It is built with earth fill and the terraced covering is made of blocks of cangahua (earth for making adobe). They served as temples or places for worshipping native gods. Bohios (circular huts of mud walls and thatched roofs) were built on the highest platform.

INCA (1460 - 1534AD)
By the mid fifteenth century, the Incas of southern Peru had successfully carried out a quick series of military conquests which resulted in the creation of an enormous empire in less than a century. The empire encompassed the entire Andean range from northern Ecuador to the centre of Argentina. It also included all the coastal plains along the Pacific Ocean from the equator to the centre of Chile.

An efficient administration allowed the Incas to maintain strict control over a multitude of repressed ethnic groups and vast territories. To intensify agricultural production they applied, at a large scale, techniques which they had learned from other previous or contemporary nations and therefore build braod irrigation systems and covered large expanses of rough slopes with terraces for cultivation. In each province, they constructed large gathering centres for storage of food, clothing, weapons etc. They also systematically moved entire populations from one province to another for purposes of colonizing untilled land or replacing opposing groups which had been exiled from their territories.

The most important point of Inca administration in Ecuador was at Tombebamba, the birthplace of the Emperor Huayna Capac and his residence for many years.

Production of minerals, metal objects, pottery, high quality textiles and most animal husbandry were a state monopoly and were carried out under the supervision of state functionaries.

The Incas had a very efficient road system which connected all corners of the Incan empire. The principal axis was Qhapac Ñan.

One of the principal elements of the system of military control imposed by the Inca empire included fortified watch towers called pucaraes. These were located on the highest places which overlooked strategical areas, for example, mountain passes, bridges, roads etc. The main form of artificial defense was high stone walls and deep pits. The largest pucara in Ecuador and one of the most important in the entire empire is located in Quitoloma on the top of a hill overlooking the northeast passage to the basin of Guallabamba.

The Cuzqueño group were the dominant caste of this vast empire. They also occupied the highest positions in administration, priesthood and the army. Gold and silver, another state monopoly, were mainly reserved to decorate temple walls and make objects of religious use or also for the use of the emperor. Some Cuzqueño aristocrats were found to wear decorative ornaments made of these materials.

GLITTER OF POWER
Gold and other precious materials were the principal proof of power, rank and wealth in Ecuador and all aboriginal (ie Andean) groups. Glitter was present in most important objects of religious worship and in ornaments worn on the body and dress by most eminent individuals of society, the rulers and priests. Even today, the concept can still be observed in mirrors and other shining objects which decorate the rich garments of aboriginal dancers in Ecuador's highlands.

ABORIGINAL SOCIETY c1532
At the time of the Inca invasion there existed several regional ethnic groups with an advanced political organisation in what is now Ecuador. In the central and northern sections of the sierra there was a well defined cultural unit whose political complexity was quite close to the structure of a state. The influence of this embryo state, known as the Kingdom of Quito, reached as far north to Ibarra, south for Chimborazo, west to the coast and east to the Quijos region.

Ethnic domain was the basis of pre-Inca social and political organisation where several villages were united by the same language. The order was as follows:

Chief.
Head of groups which formed a superior level in matters of religious, military and administrative power, transmitted by inheritance.
Hatunruna, the common folk.
Yanacuna, at the bottom of the list with limitations in personal freedom.

This structure was not modified after the Inca invasion but rather it adapted itself to the new state.

The Incas made use of language and religion in an attempt to create a culturally uniform state. Quichua was introduced as a language for administration and worship given to the sun was the state religion.

SPANISH SOCIETY c1532
The unity of Spain which was brought about by the Catholic sovereigns put an end to the Middle Ages and gave rise to a modern state. Of the five kingdoms which make the Iberian peninsula - Castilla, Aragón, Navarra and Granada united to become Spain and only Portugal maintained it's independence. Charles I reigned c1532 with over nine million inhabitants and three ethnic groups - European, Semitic-Judaic and Moorish. Soon after the Moors and Jews were expelled leaving only the Catholic faith.

NEW SOCIETY
When the colonial period began, it was a period of transition and crisis in which the new society would be created as a new product rather than a summation of traits, virtues or defects. This process involved periods of gestation, development and decline and ecompassed three centuries. It was influenced and determined by factors inherent to and alien from the Americas. The starting point for the conqueror and those conquered was different. The roots and structures of the indigenous people were deeply affected. The Incas had arrived only a short time before the Spaniards. Several communities were moved to remote regions and foreign ethnic groups took their place. Their idols were carried to Cusco as hostage and guarantees of loyalty to the Emperor. The Sun of the Empire subordinated the local deities.

The Incas and the Spaniards utilised the structure of aboriginal society which provided continuity and persistence to the process. For the Spaniards, contact with the new society involved a profound questioning of their moral, ethical and historical values. Following this, a superposition of European institutions over American realities was an impossibility.

Productive relationships were transformed, long distance transportation was simplified with the introduction of the horse, mule and donkey. Sheep flocks adapted so well to the northern Andean region that Quito became the purveyor of cloth and garments for Potosí. The diet was enriched with wheat and barley. The old indigenous tax paid with labour now had to be satisfied with finished products, for example, baskets, trunks, dresses etc. Taxation was monetized while trade and systems of distribution were modified.

Religion was important to both cultures. For Spain, to conquer meant to evangelize. Convents and temples were built to serve this ideal and they were adorned with alterpieces, paintings, sculptures and objects for worship. The indigenous people contributed with their own visions, the gave personages mestizo features, dressed them in native attire, surrounded them with Andean flora and fauna while the decoration of altars and churches incorporated elements allusive to their gods.

COLONIAL TIMES
There was a succession of struggles and alliances during colonial times. Atahualpa's dynasty enjoyed certain privileges, for example, the Spaniards sought marriages and unions with princesses and ladies of indigenous aristocracy. Their offspring were the first mestizos. The population decreased dramatically during the first decades due to smallpox, influenza and measles epidemics which caused the death of thousands of indians in 1533, 1538 and 1586. The impact was especially devastating along the ethnic coast.
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