Ecuador travel blog by Mark Berman -
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Loja has a long history and because of this there is much to see and do in the city. I had travelled down the Oriente road through the jungle regions of Ecuador
and Loja was the first big city I had visited since Quito a week earlier. The city has some nice parks, plazas, historical areas, galleries, museums and monuments,
it is known as Ecuadors music capital. I spent a couple of days exploring the cities sights.
Jipiro Recreational Park
I visited Jipiro Recreational Park, it is full of life-size replicas
of famous buildings from around the world including Asian arquitecture with dragons, an Indian temple Templo Indomalaico, the Cathedral de San Basilio Moscu of
Russia, the Eiffel Tower of France and on the island in the lagoon Big Ben Tower of London. A range of bird species can be spotted in the park including Golondrinas,
Carpinteros, Tordos, Atrapamoscas, Sucaca, Mar Arita, Garza Gris and Suipe. Other recreational activities at Park Jipiro include horse riding, a skateboard bowl,
pedal boats and tennis. A plane and train are on display also. Jipiro Park is quite near to the Loja bus terminal where also there is a monument of Isidro Ayora Cueva (1879-1978), a former president of Ecuador and a gold military monument.
Castle and City Gates
I arrived at the city gate, a big castle and bridge beside the river. There is an art gallery that had on display some fantastic wooden sculptures.
Across the road from the castle and city gates are 2 huge murals, one is to Antonio Jose de Sucre (1795-1830), he was a Venezuelan independence leader and good
friend of Simon Bolivar for whom the other mural is of.
Parks and Plazas
I made my way to Plaza / Parque Bolivar to sit down and have some lunch, the monument to Bolivar is quite
spectacular with its 6 white columns and surrounding palm trees. I found Plaza de la Independencia also known as San Sebastian Square, it is dominated by a 32m high
clock tower and church Ministerio Parroquial de San Sebastian. Down the road a little I came to a small park that had several flower sellers and a monument to Dr.
Lautaro Loriza. Nearby is an orange church and monument to Mercedes de Jesus Molina y Ayala
(1828-1883). Nearby again is Plaza de la Confederacion Santo Domingo
with its beautiful church constructed in 1600 and a monument to Manuel Carrion Pinzano, a promoter of culture and education. I visited the museum of art Museo de
Arte Laitinoamericano, it's a cool and colorful building with some very cool and colorful paintings.
The Cathedral and Park
Arriving now at the Cathedral of Loja, built in 1890, it has
an eclectic style and neoclassical elements, it has a German organ brought the same year of its construction. It stands on one side of a lovely park where people
relax beside the trees and gardens, a monument to Bernardo Valdivieso (1745-1805) stands in the middle. Ecuadors oldest college founded in 1856 and located in
Loja is named after him.
Museums of Music and Photos
On another side of the park is the cultural museum Museo y Centro Cultural, it's basically a lot of black and white photos of the history
of Loja. Since Loja is Ecuadors music capital I was looking forward to visiting the cities music museum Museo de Musica when it opened up again after lunch. Its
a very interesting place with many photos from the 1800s-1960s of local groups and orchestras. The violins and bows of Maestros Manuel de Jesus Lozano
and Daniel Armijos
Carrasco are on display here. Loja also has a museum of religious art Museo Arte Religioso. Church Iglesia de San Francisco was the next sight in Loja that I
saw, it's an impressive structure with its tower, dome and round and arched windows. The monument of a man on horseback is Alonso de Mercadillo, the founder of
Loja, Zaruma and Zamora. As I walked back to my hostel at the days end I passed the great white palace of justice Palacio de Justicia, quite something indeed.
Bus 1hr to Vilcabamba
can very much recommend taking a visit to Loja to spend a day or 2 enjoying the history and beauty of the city. My next destination was Vilcabamba
, 1hr south by bus.
Bus Cuenca to Loja 2009:
After 2 hours of walking around Cuenca
city it was time to get my backpack from the hotel and take the 5 and a half hour bus journey
to Loja where I wanted to get another bus for 6 hours to Macara on the border with Peru by that night. The scenery to Loja was very beautiful with hills and
fields, farm houses and small communities and villages such as Al Canton. The bus stopped often to drop off or collect locals. The countryside as usual in
Ecuador was an amazing sight to see with all manner of life going on as we passed through. It was a great treat with mountains, country houses, monuments,
shrines, crops growing in the fields, locals tending to their animals and produce and lots of open green spaces with trees. Arriving at Loja at around 4pm.
Bus Loja to Macara
I booked a bus for 5pm to Macara. I had a brief walk out and took some photos of the musical bridge and a few
monuments. I had some food and got to my next bus to Macara which would take 6 hours to travel a mere 200kms! The bus south to Macara was a very drawn out
process, stopping many times for passengers to get on and off.
Macara Border Crossing to Peru
But late that night at about 11pm we
arrived in Macara where I got some soup, fed a street dog the bones, found a budget hotel and went to sleep. I wanted to be ready to cross the border back
into Peru in the morning for another full days travel on my 4 day mission to Lima
to get back home to NZ. The border bridge to Peru is only a short taxi ride away from the center of Macara and you can do the border control formalities there
rather than go on a wild goose chase in town trying to find the passport stampers. There is not an official money changer on either side of the bridge but I
changed some $USD for Soles with the Peruvian border policeman. After crossing the bridge I got a co-op taxi to Sullana