Wed morning we checked out of our Villa Nova Inn. It was time for the treacherous but scenic van ride back to Guayaquil . We left at 6:30am Thurs morning so we arranged to spend one night at the Palace hotel , where we stayed one night at the beginning of our trip.
Poor Scott caught a bad flu bug yesterday so sadly our exploration of Cuenca seems to be pretty much done for now. Today he is still down for the count and tomorrow we head back down to Guayaquil . He’s feeling a tiny bit better but still needs to stay close to the Banos. For lunch yesterday I just ate the remnants of our picnic but for dinner I decided to wander out on my own .
A few observations about life in Cuenca.
1. Here you don’t see beggars just standing on a curbside with a cardboard sign… They actually do a little show while you sit at a red light! And I mean, a pretty darn good show, juggling , balancing acts , a guy had a soccer ball and he did a crazy balancing act with the ball on his head doesn’t sound impressive but I know I could never even attempt it! In my humble opinion, they deserve a hand out, they actually did something creative to earn a fewcoins ! After they finish their show they dash around to the cars and nearly every car gives them something .
I neglected to post the pictures of the lovely dinner we had on Scott’s Birthday on Thursday night. I know Pat ( Scott’s Mom) will appreciate seeing them. Dano recommended this restaurant , Tiestros. The chef came out from the kitchen to introduce himself to us and asked where we were from. We told him we were from California and he scratched his chin , thinking and said… I will make surf & turf for you!! …… Ok?
Today was a relaxing day. We didn’t have much of an agenda so we did a bit of wandering through Old Town and just looking around. I took some pictures of some pretty sights . Some graffiti I found interesting and some of the old Colonial buildings . We wandered upon a panama had museum. Little known fact….. Panama hats originated here in Ecuador ! Why they call them Panama hats, I haven’t a clue. But all the indigenous women wear them here. We also went to one of the other markets . This one , San Francisco Market is in a building unlike the Fiera Libre which was outdoors.
I took some pictures of a beautiful church built into a cliff side above the town of Biblion. The view of the town and the valley below was great. I also included a picture of the Birthday boy! His birthday breakfast .
We started our day with coffee out on the veranda of our inn . It’s been a beautiful day, just a bit cloudy but no rain. Up here in the Andes we have read that in one day you can experience all the seasons throughout the day. So I was prepared for at least a bit of rain but it was sunny and warm all afternoon. Of course it’s only 4:00 right now so I have a feeling rain could come yet.
We met Dano on the other side of the bridge just beyond where we are staying. He took us to a tiny hole in the wall breakfast restaurant called Bannanas. We had a very good breakfast and he opened up his map and showed us some of the areas he thought we might be interested in seeing. We had asked him if he could show us some of the surrounding areas just on the outskirts of the city .
After breakfast we were off! We decided to head South of the city to some more rural areas that are only 30-40 min away. Through the Yungulla Valley and into Guron. Dano took a side trip to a water fall he thought we would like to see. El Chorro Waterfall. There were upper and lower falls and the lower was just a quick hike so we did that one since we were not prepared for a 4 hour hike to the upper one. It was very pretty, I’m glad we stoppe to take a look. this area is very beautiful , it reminded us a little of the Napa area with the rolling green hills , it was pretty desolate as far as stores and restaurants. There really wasn’t much at all nearby to do or places to buy food or anything else we might need.
Next on the agenda was an area just above the city with spectacular views, Turi. Not a bad possibility. Set above the city and kind of on the other side of a big hill is a kind of secluded little area that was rural enough for us yet close enough to the city where if we wanted to go out to dinner it wouldn’t be a big deal. Another area we drove through was Tarquy and San Joaquin . Also areas we thought were pretty good.
As we both expected its hard to find a smallish town outside the city but not too far outside the city that provides amentities like a largish grocery store , a few decent restaurants yet access to the larger city for things to do or for supplies we may not find in the small town.
We will explore some areas to the north and to the east on Thursday with Dano. I’m so glad we were able to connect with him because we are getting to see much more than we could have on our own.
We just got back from joining in on the festivities in Park Calderon. It’s a religious observence that lasts 7 days. There are tents everywhere piled high with sweets! There’s music and jugglers and lots of street performers. It seems like all the families in Cuenca Come out to just stroll around in the park together and enjoy the scene. At the end of the evening they have these huge structures that have these pinwheel like things on them and they light them on fire and they turn into an amazing fireworks display! Then they shoot more fireworks right above the crowd! Sparks fly really close and it’s so beautiful . Another really cool thing going on in the square are these colorful paper balloon type things, almost like giant lanterns , they fill them with fire and just let them float up into the sky! There were dozens of them floating away, I wish you could have seen it.
Another successful day exploring a very beautiful place! Hola! For now……
Our day began with a trip to the airport in search of our lost baggage. This journey ended with success! Baggage in tow, we hoofed it to the place where we were told we could hire a shared van to Cuenca. The 3 1/2 hour drive up, up, up to Cuenca was pleasant. Not exactly first class, no wine, but it was not bad. One especially windy stretch of the road became terribly foggy we could hardly see at all but the driver never took off his dark sunglasses! Yikes! After arriving in Cuenca we caught a taxi to our hotel, Villa Nova. It’s a nice place right by the river. Our room is facing the river so the sound of the rushing water is quite pleasant. Read the rest of this entry
The streets of Cuenca
We left San Francisco at 11:00pm on Saturday , our first leg was a 4 hour flight to Chicago. Arriving in Chicago at 5:00am Sunday . Now after a four hour layover we are on a 4 1/2 hour flight to Panama City. Then a 2 hour flight to Guayaquil , Ecuador. Whew!!! Our connection in Panama is kinda tight and I think we are leaving Chicago a bit late, oh well.. We’ll see what happens .
Today is Tuesday and we are leaving Saturday for our first visit to Cuenca Ecuador. Im really looking forward to exploring the city. I have spent a lot of time reading blogs and forums and books and info online about this colonial city 8000 ft in the Andes. The architecture and landscape looks so beautiful. One blog that I have especially enjoyed reading is written by a man named Dan, or Danno, He moved to Cuenca just over a year ago from Seattle, Washington with his two cats and his dog. I have really had a great time reading about all his adventures in his new home. He has done so much in his first year and I have admired his spirit of adventure and his humor about the things that frustrate him.
Dan posted a message on an e-mail message board called the Gringo Tree that he is willing to drive people around Cuenca in his spare time. When I saw his posting I was really excited and responded right away. So we are connecting with him when we arrive and are planning to spend two days with him exploring some of the smaller towns outside of the city. He seems like a really nice person and I cant wait to pick his brain about his life in Cuenca.
The other exciting event that I have schedule while visiting Cuenca is A cooking class. Again on the Gringo Tree I spotted a posting for a Tamale class at a ladies house. It sounds like as much of a social event as a class. Anyone who knows me knows I love social events! Especially when the $10.00 fee includes wine!! Scott can focus on the cooking while I cover him on the social end😃. Looking forward to meeting other gringos who live in Cuenca. I know no matter what, it will be really fun to experience a new culture, meet new people and spend time in a beautiful city! Cheers! Life is good!!!!