North of Quito lays the city of Ibarra. When I came here on the recommendation of my friend Barry with Alaska Back Care, I discovered a unique population, mostly Afro Ecuadorians whose culture and tradition is apparent in the different aspects of life here. The everyday rhythms as well as the urban lifestyles are defined by their culture. Another interesting aspect I discovered was that the city is called La Ciudad Blanca or the white city, is being one where many of its old buildings have been turned into shops but several plazas and baroque churches still exist, lending a sophisticated feel to several neighborhoods.
Places to See
The natural landscape is rich and vivid here. You can take nearby trips to the Volcan Imbabura which is close by as well as the Laguna de Yahuarcocha, meaning the ‘Lake of Blood’ which has a rich history, I discovered that the lake is called such since about 30,000 warriors of Caranqui tribe were killed here when they came into the war against the army of Huayna Capac, an Incan emperor. The lakeshore is tranquil now, being a popular space for joggers, paddle-boaters, and cyclists.
There are city tours as well which cover several museums here; the city tour I took covered places like Parque La Merced which is the main plaza here, built since the 19th century; Museo Arqueológico y Etnográfico Atahualpa is another, comprised of several galleries that have artifacts of pre-Columbian era; my tour also included a stop by the Parque Pedro Moncayo which is a plaza filled with gorgeous palm trees that have baroque influences. I also saw the obelisk that honors Miguel de Ibarra who founded the city.
Eateries to Explore
The city has good cafes with interesting cuisine; I stopped by Heladeria Rosalia Suarez, an ice cream shop that dates back to 1897. El Quinde cafe is another place that has coffee which is locally grown with their pastries and cakes. Olor a Cafe is another in downtown area housed in a colonial building and is considered a literary hangout for the people here.