CITIZEN JOURNALISM – A trip to the past  

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Story By Andrew Johnson Photos By Dave Johnson

Ed. Note: We thought it would be refreshing to read about the first Cuenca Expats Magazine Travel Club trip from the perspective of a 17-year-old. The reality is, if you want to know anything about either of the two places we visited, Ingapirca and Devil’s Nose, there are hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts written by adults. Our goal at Cuenca Expats Magazine is to feature unique content that isn’t available anywhere else. In order to achieve this, we tasked Andrew Johnson to tell us about the trip from his viewpoint.

An indiginous woman hand spinning sheeps wool

My name is Andrew Johnson, and I would like to tell you about a trip I took recently with my family and friends. We took a tour bus ride to a place called Ingapirca. Although I hadn’t heard much about it, except that it was some old ruins we would be taking a look at, being as interested in history and mythology as I am I was psyched to go.

On the bus to the ruins, our tour guide, Wilson, gave us the history of the area, and I must say that I didn’t know there was so much going on right outside of Cuenca history-wise. It was a great learning experience, but that wasn’t the best part, we took a detour through the mountains and saw the beautiful pictures Wilson’s words painted, with very small houses intermingled and a community blooming on its own without interference from the outside world. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they didn’t have any technology, it just wasn’t a metropolis.

After such an amazing view and the great cookies provided by George, our publisher, I was excited to see the ruins and hear of their history and the people that once lived there. I wasn’t disappointed. When we arrived, there was another tour group full of exchange students from Europe going to take the tour before us, and they went on their way a few minutes before we did. When we entered the grounds, we were met by a peculiar tree with beautiful flowers and oddly shaped fruit. Apparently, the flowers could be used as a “Mind control” type thing if the ground and processed correctly, there were a few jokes cracked at this statement and then we learned about the fruits, which are apparently poisonous.

“Angel’s trumpet” flower

Our group then moved to a higher vantage point overlooking the entire layout of the ruins, which are in the shape of a jaguar because the Cañari believed it to be the strongest animal and that it would give them power. As we toured the ruins, we entered a very small house. The walls were made of adobe, a building material made of mud, clay or sand and various organic materials. Inside the house there was no floor, the roof was made of straw and branches and in the walls there were indents where the Cañaris would put clay idols of the Gods they worshipped.

Next on the tour we saw where they buried their high priestesses in a circle made of rocks next to their “Clock.” A device made of stone that they used to tell time and seasons. We continued on to the sun temple, whose shape originates from the rock it was built on.

Apparently this was where the Prince lived and worshipped the Gods. It’s also where he would send his messengers off. The messengers had to be able to run 2,600 kilometers within a set amount of time to deliver the messages. Every 2,600 kilometers, they had waypoints and rest stations for the runners to stop, pass on the message to a new runner, who would continue on.


Ruins at Ingapirca

Replica house made from adobe

The cars of the Devil's Nose Train

This made the trip easier, but it was still brutal, I imagine. We finished up at Ingapirca with photos and snacks, and headed to the Devil’s Nose train ride. When we got there, we had about 30 minutes to explore the town, so my dad and I went to grab a piece of pepperoni pizza from a local vendor. It was surprisingly delicious.

After we got our tickets and everything set up, we boarded the train and headed off. I would like to say that I had no trouble with the train, but that would be a lie. I honestly got pretty nervous when we would pass a bridge or when the land dropped off and I could see nothing but the bottom of a ravine. It was still a great ride with pretty cool scenery, and the reason it’s called Devil’s nose is because many years ago when they were mining with dynamite the miners fell very ill with yellow fever, Malaria, and who knows what else.


Safe to say, they stopped mining and instead named it “Devil’s Nose.” When we got to the bottom of the railroad there was an area to explore, a coffee shop, a museum up a huge set of stairs, and an area with dancers who were apparently the local people of the area, and every day after working and dancing they would go home by climbing up the mountain. Quite a hike I must say.

Ecuadorean Dancers


When we got back to town, we had dinner at a local restaurant and then got back on the bus. The ride home was full of stories, jokes, and some out of tune singing, all in good sport. When we arrived in Cuenca and got off the bus, we all said our goodbyes, waved and went our respective ways.

All in all I really enjoyed the trip, we learned a lot about local history, some not so local history and we got to explore ruins and take a train ride down a mountain and back up it. I look forward to seeing you all on the next trip, goodbye for now!

A view of the Devil's Nose Train Station from the Museum above

A llama for hire?

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