Showing posts from August, 2018

History of the Virgin of Cisne

The pilgrimage of the Virgin of Cisne is one of largest religious events in Ecuador. Every year in the month of August, beginning on the 17th and ending on the 20th, a long procession of people arrives in the city of Loja. On their shoulders is the image of Our Lady of the Swan (Cisne), also known as "La Churonita" (little one with curly hair). This pilgrimage requires much effort and devotion because participants travel more than 70 km walking from the town of Cisne to Loja on a journey that takes about 4 days.
Local history records that in 1594 a strong drought hit the indigenous Palta people who populated the area of Loja province now known as Cisne. Very few people stayed in the village or in the wilting forest. Among them was a little girl named Angelita who claimed to have witnessed several appearances of a divinity promising to take care of the entire Indian population living there. Angelita went to her people and told them of her visions. In an act of faith, they as…

Loja's Indigenous Palta

It is impossible to talk about Loja without talking about the fierce indigenous people known as the Palta. The Spanish conquerors arrived in the Valley of Cuxibamba, now known as the Valley of Loja, in the year of 1548. Their mission of founding a city here, as we reported in an earlier post, met with overwhelming resistance from the people already inhabiting the valley. Their name, Palta - the Quechua word for "avocado" - begs the question what does Palta mean? According to Lojano historical commentaries in our local libraries, the Incas of Tahuantinsuyo, rivals of the Palta to the south, used this term as a possible pejorative in reference to our first people's appearance.  It is believed this was due to the Palta custom of cranial alteration, also known as head binding, which the Incas thought made the Palta resemble an avocado.
It is well known that the Paltas were a warlike people who were never conquered by the Incas of Tahuantinsuyo due to their ferocity. When th…

The History of Lojano Coffee

Loja coffee plantation (photo Sofia Izurita) 
Contrary to popular legends, Ecuadorian coffee originated in Loja ~
Very few people know that the first coffee plant in Ecuador was planted in the Province of Loja. The following is from Ecuadorian historian, Galo Ramón Valarezo, written in May 2018.
With much respect and affection for our coffee producing brethren in Manabe, we must correct their assertion that the first coffee plant was planted in Jipijapa in 1860, which has been their story up to this point.  Rather, the first coffee planted in Ecuador was in Cariamanga, Loja Province. Thirty-four years earlier than originally claimed, the economic census of 1826 recorded this novelty: the first quintal (100 pounds) of coffee was counted in the canton of Cariamanga, which was then composed of Cariamanga, Amaluza, Macará and Sozoranga. This means that the plants that produced this quintal had to be planted about three years before, in 1823, in one of the villages mentioned. The economic c…

The Founding of Loja, Ecuador

The city of Loja was founded on two separate occasions by a lieutenant of Gonzalo Pizarro, Captain Alonso de Mercadillo. The first time Loja was founded was in 1546 with the name "San Sebastián de la Zarza." This precursor was in the Garrochamba Valley, the present day site of Loja's neighbor to the west, Catamayo. Mercadillo's second attempt at setting up the city was in the Valley of Cuxibamba (Valley that laughs). This is when the city received its current name "Immaculate Conception of Loja" in 1548.
The building of Loja was logistically difficult, taking much longer than expected, because the Spanish conquerors did not know the land. The founding of Loja was also plagued with violence. Mercadillo and his army did not count on the presence of the warlike Palta people. The Palta first nation, indigenous to Cuxibamba, were ferocious to the point that not even the Inca Empire of Tahuantinsuyo could subdue them.

When you explore our unique southern Ecuador…

Geography in the city of Loja, Ecuador

Loja is a charming city full of beautiful views of mountains and rugged paths. Many people know this city as the "last corner of the world" because it is so difficult to get here, especially by land. In general, the entire province of Loja has a unique topographic and hydrographic formation which impacts the climate, agricultural production, and even the character of its inhabitants. The geologic action described below in the late 18th century by German naturalist Franz Theodor Wolff has left Loja's terrain with a variety of climatic zones, which results in highly varied agricultural production.
According to research conducted by Wolf, the geographical terrain of Loja was molded during the Paleogene and Neogene periods (66 million to 2.6 million years ago). He believed there were two large lakes in the area, the smallest covering the entire Loja valley between Cajanuma and Acacana. Wolf said: "During the [Paleogene and Neogene periods], powerful layers were developed…

The Villonaco Wind Farm

Loja, located in Southern Ecuador, is recognized as one of the most environmentally friendly cities in South America. Villonaco Wind Power Plant is one of the most emblematic works of this "green" city:

The construction process of the Villonaco Wind Power Plant began with the opening of roads and the assembly of the wind turbines in 2011. The plant is made up of 11 wind turbines that are installed along the summit line of the Cerro Villonaco hills at 2720 meters above sea level. Temperate fronts collide here with dry air from the east in arid Catamayo and humid air from the Amazonian region of Zamora. The constant crash of opposing weather systems generates usable power which exploits the natural wind energy. At present, this is the only plant of this kind in continental Ecuador, and has one of the of the highest elevations in the world. The wind farm was built by the Electric Corporation of Ecuador and is currently managed by one of their subsidiaries, the GENSUR Business …