Hello all! My name is Maria Dubon and I'm a sophomore on the trip. Today, our group went to the Ingapirca Ruins. Although I've seen Aztec and Mayan ruins many times before, this was my very first experience with Incan ruins and I was so excited! Little did I know, this site was special because not only did it contains Incan ruins, but ruins from a native group known as the Cañari. Although the site was very small compared to places like Machu Picchu, it was very special because because of the two separate cultures both in one location. We learned that the Incas didn't destroy constructions of other groups, but instead repurposed and changed the existing architecture to use for their own benefit. The original Cañari design of the ruins was in the shape of a puma, which was the representation of the Cañari people and what they considered to be the most powerful land animal.
The Cañari people believed the moon god to be the most powerful, as the land they inhabited was often covered by fog. This directly contrasted with the Incan belief that the sun god was most powerful. The importance of the sun god can be seen in the most prominent as well as most important building, the Temple of the Sun. Elliptically shaped, a display of Cañari culture, the Temple of the Sun was constructed in a special Incan fashion that carefully fit perfectly cut stones together without mortar. The temple is built around a large rock and positioned so that at both the solstices sunlight would enter the main doorway of the temple.
After exploring the ruins, we did a short hike to a massive rock face in the side of a mountain know as Cara del Inca, or face of the Inca. Like many things surrounding the Incas, due to lack of written history it is unknown whether it is a natural occurrence or of human design. Either way, it was very impressive!
On the way back to Cuenca we stopped at la Iglesia de Bilbian. The church is on the highest point in the city and built directly into the mountain. Inside the church is el Santuario de la Virgen del Rocío, or the Sanctuary of the virgin of Rocío.
The entire trip was a really nice opportunity for us to get to know Ecuador better during our short stay here. Stayed tuned for more updates as we start our observations at Hospital Militar tomorrow!