Lake Quilotoa, Kichwa people, legend of the condor and Banos

Faithful disciples, here He is again. This time He will tell you of a spectacular lake inside a volcanic crater and Banos, a tourist place with thermal baths.

The lake Quilotoa was born about a thousand years ago following the collapse of a volcano. The volcano has a diameter of 3.15 km and is still active, the last eruption occurred in 1799.


Almost all the local women, and girls too, wear a felt hat, even indoors.


25% of the Ecuadorian population is indigenous. The descendants of the Incas are the largest of the 13 indigenous communities in Ecuador and are called Kichwa, as their language, used today by about two and a half million people. The Kichwa is part of the family of Quechua languages, spoken by over 7 million people in Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.


Little girl. And more photos of boys and girls.





The family that ran the posada where I was, near the lake. I slept in another house, barely heated by a small wood-burning stove. The night, after the fire run out, it started to be very cold.

There I read a little book for children in Kichwa, Spanish and English, very well illustrated, about a Kichwa legend, the legend of the condor in love:

The spirit Pachakama created the universe. After a while, he realized he needed a flying messenger that could carry and receive messages from Earth.
With his companion Pachamama, the female spirit of fertility, and other forces of the universe (Sun, Moon, etc…) created an egg. From it, came out a little condor.
The condor immediately began to do his duty, sending messages and receiving inquiries from Earth. To communicate he used the kipus, ie colored cords, and dreams.
But after few years the condor began to feel lonely. “Everyone has a companion, even the rabbits, only I am alone …”. And he began to seek love.
Fluttering in the Andes, he saw a girl who grazed sheep. He immediately fell in love and, after stealing a poncho to appear more beautiful, appeared to her.
She mistook him for a guy with pants to his knees and after speaking at length, she fell in love as well.
When she realized that he was a condor, he takes her on air. At the beginning she is a little scared, but soon she becomes captivated by the places over which passes: the lake Quilotoa, the picks of Ilizinas, the Chimborazo, and the sacred volcanoes Cotopaxi and Tungurahua.
Eventually they arrive on a kunturmatzi, one of the quarries on the high Andes, where he lives. He picks her lovingly and, for each peck, feathers grow on the girl.
At home, meanwhile, they are worried. It’s night and the dog, who saw where they went, drives the girl’s family and the entire village to the nest of the condor.
When they arrive there, the villagers chase away the condor and recover the girl.
Parents lock her in the house, but the girl, burning some straw, send a message to the condor, that comes back and take her again.
This time they fly up until a very high kunturmatzi. There, the condor pecks her lovingly and feathers grow on her. When the villagers reach the nest, she is completely transformed into a bird, a female condor, and parents must accept the fait. Pachakama and Pachamama are happy because now there is a greater connection with the people of Earth to send and receive messages.
And still today, when a girl goes to graze, parents warn her: “Beware the condor!”


Little girls near Zumbahua, the most close town near lake Quilotoa.


Banos it’s a peaceful resort, surrounded by steep mountains all around. One of its features are the thermal baths.


Ecuador is full of volcanoes, including Chimborazo, 6310 meters, but no longer active, and the Taita Cotopaxi, 5897 meters, among the highest active in the world, and sacred place of the Andean Kichwa.
The volcano near Banos is Tungurahua. And I’ve just discovered something curious: looking now on Internet to see when it erupted last time I found that happened three days ago, on April 30, when I was already here! (link: ). Earthquakes and tremors of the earth, pillars of smoke, ashes, but I haven’t noticed anything!


In Banos you can do many activities like rafting, climbing the canyon, bungee jumping etc. … I did the “canopy” (as this Argentinian guy in the photo) which consists in attaching to a hook on a wire cable and flying down into the valley below.
I had done something similar in Warsaw, where, however, the route was short and the scenery not spectacular.
Here the cable was a 1 km long and the flight lasted about a minute. Unlike what you might think, was not at all a scary experience, and actually was relaxing, I flew silently, with the river flowing just below.
But I haven’t figured out what help would have been the helmet, falling from that height.


Later, I discovered that more than a helmet it would have saved me a magic formula, as seen in this painting in the main church of Banos. In fact, to Mr. Paulino Gavilanes back in June 1889 something similar happened, but after pronouncing the words “Madre mia de Augua Santa” (“Holy Mother of Augua”), he was taken and carried to safety by the Virgin.
Well, we must recognize that the legend of the condor is much better than this bullshit.


A strange church, on the road that drops down from the mountains of Banos for about 40 km to the forest. Full of waterfalls and beautiful scenery, pleasant to do on a bike, also because it is mostly downhill.
And coming back up? And for coming back I took a ride from a truck eeeehhhh not stupid dekaro!


The most beautiful place along the way is the Diablo (devil) waterfall.


You can get very close, where the water falls and where springs. It ‘s impossible to describe the feeling of strength and momentum that emanates the jet, among other things, to its fullest, because we are at the end of the rainy season (and in fact since I arrived in Ecuador I’m taking a lot water).


Crawling under a path into the rock, you get behind the waterfall. There, you feel one with the mighty force of nature, a continuous roar, almost mesmerizing.


The is instead the cascade of the Virgin of holy water, and indeed compared to that of Diablo is docile and timid. It is located right next to the thermal baths and is always visible from Banos.


Candles in honor of the Virgin of Holy Water in the main church of Banos.

And that’s all for this time. Kisses! :-)

The animal market, cockfighting, Quito and the half of the world

Hello everyone! This time a photo-story of the animal market in Otavalo, the cockfighting, Quito and the “mitad del mundo” (the half of the world) where the equator passes, about 20 km north of Quito.


Otavalo comes alive on Saturday when the whole center becomes a giant market, mostly indigenous, from the square Los Ponchos all around until out of town, where there is the most interesting part: the animal market , whith pigs, sheep, chickens, dogs, cats, alpacas, guinea pigs, etc. …


Child selling a dog.


Another child with dog.




From a certain age, I abjured eating meat, and the time will come when men such me will consider the killing of animals as the killing of men.
-Leonardo da Vinci


Some women were there with just one animal to sell.


Cats in cage.


Woman bought a cat.




Little pigs meet each others.




Guina pigs.


Child caressing a sheep.


Two women.


The cockfighting is more or less as you imagine or saw in some Hollywood movie. From a small door behind the curtains of the market, I came in a dirty and cramped place, with people a bit shady and tickets of dollars passing back and forth for betting…

Each cock has a coach (I think also owner) who spurs him during the fight and, just like football coaches, each has his own style, from who stresses out all throughout the match to who keeps staying almost impassible.
Even the cocks have their own fighting style: some were always excited and threw pecks continuously, while others preferred to remain almost stationary to dodge, and then suddenly run very quick peck on the neck.

The bad thing is that the match ends with the death of one of the two cocks . I did not know, otherwise I would not have gone there. But there is no doubt that the fight has its charm, looks like something from another time.


The last match I saw was the most beautiful, also because it ended in a draw and then both cocks were saved. Looking at the two coaches, from the beginning I was curious to know who would have won: one was a big boaster, that also incited the audience, the other seemed like an Eastern sage, quiet and focused.
In the first minutes, in fact, the boaster was running around the ring even more of his cock, spurring with sweeping gestures and shouting, while the other coach almost didn’t participate.


However, after about 5 minutes, they both start to behave similarly, giving just some silent advice to the cock, from time to time.
At about three minutes left (of 10 total) the fight became very harsh. The two cocks pinched each others with ferocity and violence, without thinking to defend themselves and also the public became excited. There must also be some rules that I didn’t understand because sometimes the referee stopped the match, as in a boxing break, sparking protests from coach and fans or, vice-versa, requests of interruption for irregularities.
At the last minute the two cocks were exhausted and bleeding, almost couldn’t fight and even the coaches knew it would end in a draw and didn’t spur them more.


Quito , the capital of Ecuador, is located at 2800 meters above sea level. The beautiful historic center, the “Old Town”, is composed largely of colonial buildings.


A dancer at the “Plaza Grande” in Quito, where there is the palace of the government and almost every day there are demonstrators who demand their rights or protest against government decisions. Indigenous, animal rights activists, trade unionists… This was a traditional dance group.
Apparently it is not unusual that the president Correa comes out is to discuss directly with the protesters.


In the historical center of Quito, there are many baroque churches, extraordinaries especially inside, with a unique style, “the school of Quito”, born from the fusion of indigenous and Spanish styles, including Moorish. This is the church of San Francesco.


One foot in one hemisphere and one foot in the other, at “mitad del mundo”.


But now I have a little polemic note : I don’t understand why the Ecuador has taken this sort of “copyright” on the equator. Doing a quick check on the world map I saw that it goes on at least 10 states. Why then the Ecuador has taken the name , the site “mitad del mundo”, the various museums on equator etc …? From now on I will be more critical in the analysis of the places I visit, because many things do not add up.


At the “mitad del mundo” I met two very nice ladies of Guayaquil, the second largest city in Ecuador. Here we were in a little museums around there, dedicated to insects and where is possible to play with giant cockroaches.


The experiment of the egg on the equator. The egg is balanced on the head of a nail. And indeed it is true, but I never tried to do it elsewhere, so I don’t know if this is possible only there, and actually I’m very sceptical. Try it for yourself and let me know, if it goes wrong, you will eat omelette.


I answer the comment:
Thank you Yannick! And good luck for the Chelsea final! :-)