Although it appears as though I have been negligent in updating my blog, I gotta be honest and report that I have had a pretty uneventful past couple of days. The exception to this was our time spent in Cajas National Park on Saturday. Cajas National Park is located 30 minutes west of Cuenca. Declared a National Park in 1996, Cajas is locally operated but nationally funded. This characterisitic is neat because many of the employees of the park have a long family history with this region. Cajas provides Cuenca 60% of its water supply and is situated 2 miles above sea level...it is consistently quite cold and this past Saturday was no exception. Cajas encompasses two separate eco-systems: mountain cloud forest and Andean shrubby high altitude grassland known as paramo in Spanish.
Cajas is home to beautiful forest areas that remind me of scenes from Lord of the Rings...hehehe, gorgeous! Other interesting factoids about Cajas National Park include, in the 1980´s music artist Cindy Lauper produced a music video there, but perhaps the more notable "event" of the 1980´s in Cajas occured in 1989 when an upper-middle class teenage girl claimed to have been visited by the Virgen Mary while camping in the park. Monthly pilgrimages to the sanctuary are still made by people from all over Ecuador. In the last decade the young girl´s story has been discredited by the Ecuadorian media (rightfully so, our guide who knows this woman asserted that her story is quote, "a crock of shit"). Nevertheless, the site is still revered as important, religiously and spiritually.
Our 5-6 mile hike was challenging, intense, cold, rainy, but SO FUN! Cajas is a truly stunning area and quite unlike the landscape of the area around itself. Unfortunately my camera was not working properly and therefore I have no pictures of my own however, do hope to have some copies to share in the future.
The remainder of my weekend was rather quiet and uneventful, I read and did plenty of homework. I really enjoy my Biology course, as I think I have mentioned before, the other courses being Latin American history and Spanish grammatics I could live without. The latter are poorly instructed and evoke no passion to learn, sadly.
This weekend will bespent entirely in the village of Saraguro. Saraguro is an indigenous community 3-4 hours south of Cuenca, apparently it is one of the most enjoyable weekend trips that our group takes!