Pichincha / Imbabura  
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Dispatch 7 - Apuela
  Church on the main square in Quiroga The road to the west out of Cotacachi starts with a long hill.  The first and last town you pass through for about 25km is Quiroga.

Left: Church on the main square in Quiroga.

Right: Young female bicyclist in the main square in Quiroga.

Young female bicyclist in the main square in Quiroga
  Harvesting corn Left: Harvesting corn.

Right: Stacks of dried corn stocks for future cattle consumption.

Stacks of dried corn stocks
  Rose green house Lagoon Cuicochi and Mt CotacachiLeft: Rose being grown in a green house near Quirogo.

Right: Lagoon Cuicochi and Mt Cotacachi (mostly obscured.) Also a favorite destination for local bicyclists.

  Inty Raymi Cuicochi If you are in Cuicochi on the summer solstice you can watch the preparations and participate (walk along) in Cotacachi's initial IntyInty Raymi Cuicochi Rimi's rituals.  Most local people are dressed to the nines, but you can come as you are.  Among the elements of the pageant are displays of tropical fruit, dozens of chickens hung from a pole, oversize pointed sombreros and the local beauty queens. Inty Raymi Cuicochi
  Inty Raymi Cuicochi Inty Raymi Cuicochi Inty Raymi Cuicochi Inty Raymi Cuicochi Inty Raymi Cuicochi
  high county south of Mt Cotacachi. high county south of Mt Cotacachi.The high county south of Mt Cotacachi.
  high county south of Mt Cotacachi. high county south of Mt Cotacachi.To the west, the countryside get more dramatic and ruggedly scenic. high county south of Mt Cotacachi.
  school in San Miguel de Pecara The school in San Miguel de Pecara. The students seem to be practicing and end-of-the-year program (right). school in San Miguel de Pecara
  stone road Picara countryside A stone road winds through the lush countryside of the tributaries of Rio Apuela.

Ecuador use stone roads a lot for secondary roads.  Ask to a motorist and the will say the road is great. Ask a cyclist and they will talk to you after they find the filling that was shaken loose.  The secret is to find the smooth part along the edge -- which don't always exist.

Picara countryside Picara countryside
  meeting people shucking cornA few of the people we met along the way.  I don't get pictures of most of my new acquaintances. shucking corn
    Small community church in Alto Pecara. community church in Alto Picara
  valley of Apuela Left: Looking down into the valley of Apuela.

Right: Looking down on to the school in Apuela.

school in Apuela
  Main street of Apuela Left: Main street of Apuela.

Right: Main square and market of Apuela.

Main square and market of Apuela
  Wall mural illustrating dental health and oral hygiene Left: Wall mural illustrating dental health and oral hygiene.

Right: Small hotel and restaurant in the Rio Apuela valley.

Small hotel in the Rio Apuela valley
Nangulvi hotsprings Nangulvi hotsprings Nangulvi hotspringsFrom the top of the hill, the road descends through paramo (alpine grasslands), to cloud forests (orchids, ferns and superior bio-diversity) and  down to a sub-tropical environment.  The frosting on the cake is you can stay at a riverside hot springs.  There are a variety of pools of different temperatures. Nangulvi hotsprings
   

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