They say there are 20,000 temples on the island of Bali - after you visit, you realise that estimate isn't as far fetched as it sounds. Yesterday, I visited the Gunung Kawi temple in central Bali, hidden in a quiet ravine and surrounded by rice fields. Gunung Kawi is an 11th-century temple and funerary complex that is spread across either side of the Pakerisan River. It comprises 10 candi (shrines) that are carved into some 7m (23 ft) high sheltered niches of the sheer cliff face. It's my favourite temple, so far, but I still have to visit 19,990 to make sure... 😋
So, I'm in Bali... and if you don't know that, time to follow my stories! 😎 Libby, the campervan, sold sooner than expected and that gave me the chance to stop in Bali on the way back to Aus (yes, horrible outcome 😋). I'm here to see the sites, learn more about the Balinese culture, experience the "relaxed lifestyle" that this region is famous for and make some connections with fellow nomads, of which there are many. 🛵🌊☀️🌴🇮🇩 #explorebali
I have thought about and spoken about this place for 40 years: the mission station at Dos Ríos. Back then, when you left the compound into the rainforest, you were likely to encounter the Huaorani, an isolated tribe known for their violence. It was the Huaorani who famously murdered five missionaries Jan 8, 1956. The Huaorani still live close by but today the city of Tena has expanded significantly and there is now a school on the property.... and a "fancy new bridge". The house where we stayed appears to have been abandoned years ago - fair assumption that the current residents simply took advantage of an empty house. Walking through the local rainforest and playing in the Napo River all those years ago left an incredible imprint on my mind and I'm thankful that I was able to come back to refresh my love of the Amazon rainforest.
Baños de Agua Santa (known simply as Baños) in the shadow of the volcano Tungurahua, which is also the name of the province, has become one of the must-stops on a visit to Ecuador. From a small town with hotsprings, it's evolved into the "adventure sports" capital of Ecuador. Frankly, some of those activities are beyond my comfort zone (nope, ain't jumping off a bridge into a deep canyon with a rubber band tied to my ankles) but still ventured out, including a visit to the Instagram-famous Casa de Árbol clifftop swing and the incredible and aptly named Pailon del Diablo (Devil's Cauldron) waterfall. Hasta luego, Baños 😎
When the Spanish arrived, they brought their religion, Catholicism. That influence is still very prevalent today. So important was their faith, that cathedrals were regularly added, within blocks of each other, each with its unique focus. There are 52 cathedrals in Cuenca, the biggest of which is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. This cathedral is also referred to as the new cathedral, as it was built in 1885. Across the central park, Park Abdon Calderón, is the original main cathedral built in 1557.
I'm in Cuenca, short for Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca (cuatro ríos refers to the four rivers that converge here). The Spanish established a colony here in 1557. They followed the Inca empire which conquered the Cañari locals in 1470. The Cañari were thought to have arrived in 500AD but archaeologists estimate the first settlement in the area was over 7000 years ago. So, there's a bit of history here!
Years before I was born, my father supervised the construction of this seminary. My parents would go onto to be directors and professors here for 20 years. After I was born in Canada, we returned to Guayaquil and lived up these stairs. These grounds were my playground and I climbed the mango trees in search of my favourite fruit. Across the street was a vacant block where we played fútbol - it's now a church, the same church my father pastored when it was still using the seminary chapel. So surreal to be back here again. #mystory#missionarykid