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PERU
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Other interesting places

Ambato
The city of flowers and fruit, also known as the city of the "Tres Juanes", is the capital of the province of Tungurahua. Its typical food items are the llapingachos, the cuyes, and in the month of November the famous "colada morada" (45 minutes from Baños by inter-provincial bus)

This city is 140 km south of Quito and at the foot of the Chimborazo, an extinct volcano at 6,310 meters above sea level. It has been reconstructed to a large extent since an earthquake destroyed most of the city in 1949. It is an important industrial center for blankets and textiles. Its population is 221,000.

Ambato nestles in a hollow between the plateaus of Pillaro, Quisapincha, Tisaleo, Quero, Huambalo and Cotalo. The Ambato river runs through it, fertilizing the soil, which local residents have converted into orchards and gardens. The weather is among the best in Ecuador, with an average temperature of 14.5°Celsius. The city's business activity picks up on Monday market days, when the squares, markets and streets of the city become flooded with products from other regions and parts of the country. The main markets are: Modelo, Central, Colon and Primero de Mayo.

There is a very important festival celebrated here during one or two weeks every year:

The Flower and Fruit Festival
This is an annual fair that was created after the 1949 earthquake. In the charter creating the fair it is described as the "most typical proof of the local Ambateño spirit animating the city and the province". The Fair displaced the former Water Carnival festivity, replacing it with a complete agenda of all kinds of celebrations, including cultural, artistic and academic activities, among them: the International Folklore Festival, the National Luis A. Art Exhibition, flower games, dance festivals and the coronation of a Festival Queen.

Salasaca
Salasaca is a small community near Ambato that has a very interesting market known as "las Ferias" that is open every weekday. The general opinion is that this place has the best craftwork in textiles, wool and alpaca sweaters and tapestries, bags, caps and paintings. It is 15 minutes from Baños by inter-provincial bus.

A group of the natives here were originally from the high plateau area around Lake Titicaca, shared at present between Bolivia and Peru. They were forcibly "transplanted" by the Incas to their present place in the middle of Ecuador, some 550 years ago. They live in the province of Tungurahua southeast of Ambato, on the sandy plains of the Pelileo canton, at the foot of Mt Teligote.

The Inka celebration of "INTIRAYMI", or the sun festival, is an event that takes place every year in Peru at the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, in the city of Cuzco. The Salasaca celebrate it on the same date every year, showing a common Andean origin. This celebration takes place at the solstice during one or two weeks at the end of June, when the sun is at its most distant point from the equator. Its original purpose was to ask the receding sun to return again. The people of this region are very peaceful and gentle. They live in the center of Ecuador, near the Chimborazo. They are also considered to be extremely obstinate people, accounting for the survival of their culture after 550 years of exile from their territorial home.

Puyo
The next major city towards the east, and capital of the province of Pastaza. To get there one can hire mountain bikes, visiting some waterfalls on the way, and finally getting to Puyo. (it is 90 minutes from Baños by inter-provincial bus).

Seventy nine km south of Tena, PUYO is a major urban center, considered to be the greatest of the Ecuadorian southeast, with a growing population numbering 20,000 inhabitants, mainly sierra colonists. Puyo is permanently bathed in a gray-blue light, that gives it a sad air. Although it was founded in 1899 by Dominican missionaries, very little is left of its traditional wooden architecture; most of its present buildings are modern concrete structures. Puyo, however, boasts several attractions in its surroundings, of which the most important is the fabulous Botanical Garden "Las Orquideas". Puyo is also the transport hub of the southeast, with frequent bus services to Tena in the north, Macas in the south, Baños in the west and Ambato, in the sierra.
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