Loja, Ecuador

Jan 11, 2023

Loja, Ecuador: The full name is "City of the Immaculate Conception of Loja". Loja is known as the Music and Cultural Capital of Ecuador. In the photo album is a photo of the Parque de la Musica. Something in the park that isn't visible in the picture is the inscriptions on the walls of music staves - the inscriptions of deceased famous Ecuadorian composers, singers, and musicians. The population of Loja is around 200,000. In the park called "Parque Colinas del Pucará", at the top of the hill, you can find what appears to be an old castle, but in reality, this place used to be a cable car station. Sometime between 2020 and 2023 it was closed and the cable car and cable were removed. Now you can go up the smaller tower and get a nice view of the valley. There are pics in the photo album. The trailhead starts in Parque Pucará.

The Spaniards first colonized Loja in 1548. Loja is one of the oldest towns in Ecuador, and also was the first town to have electricity, provided by a hydroelectric dam that was completed in the 1890s. There are two rivers that flow through the town and there are linear parks along them. There is also a bicycle/pedestrian path that runs from Loja 42 kilometers south to Vilcabamba, along one of the rivers. Near the town is Ecuador's first wind power generator stations. And, Loja is the "capital" city of Ecuador's primary coffee region. Loja is regarded as a seat of Ecuadorian culture. A local saying is: "The one who does not play the guitar can sing a song; the one who does not sing a song can write a verse; the one who does not write a verse reads a book."

Loja has a mild Andean climate. The average daytime high of 23° C (73° F), and the night average low of 7° C (44° F). Loja receives an average of 893 mm (35 inches) of rain per year. The elevation of the city is 2060 meters (6758 feet). On the days I was in Loja it rained every day. The rain usually lasted less than a couple of hours, then there was a couple of hours break, the more rain.

So, my impressions: Too cold and wet. Pretty town, though. So, it's a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live here. (That phrase dates back to 1907 in a New York Times article.)

This is my goal: to find a new place to live. So to reach that goal I am traveling most of South America, visiting the countries of Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile, passing through Argentina, visiting Paraguay, passing through a bit of Brazil, and finally visiting Uruguay. I have a list of towns, about 70 towns, that meet these qualifications: Cities with average day temperatures of 22-28° C (72-83° F) and night temps of 14° C (57° F) and higher; and a population between 28,000-300,000. I analyzed climate and population data of around 700 towns in the above-mentioned countries and then pulled out the ones that meet the previously mentioned criteria, which leaves about 70. My preference leans towards towns of less than 100,000 people. Of the 70 towns, about 20 have populations of 100,000 - 300,000. And, now that I have visited more than 25 towns/cities, I've decided I will probably want an inland town. I love the beach and walking in the warm water, but, getting sunburned is just too easy, even on a cloudy day. At least, here in Ecuador. I've also decided that any town with more than 100,000 population will be too big. I've decided that any small town that meets the temp specifications and has a supermarket and ATM is one worth considering to live in.

At this point in my journey I have one town on my top-20 list - Catamayo and Puyo. So far, in my travels of Ecuador, I have visited 28 towns/cities.

Next up: Vilcabamba.