My husband and I bin searching for a along time to find a new exiting place to call home.. First we explored different states in Mexico, then two trips to Costa Rica but noting felt joyful in our heart.
This time the new adventure is Cuenca Ecuador .
The trip from Cancun to Guayaquil with layover for 45 minutes in Panama was very pleasant and quick. One $5.00 taxi ride around the corner, and off with the Bus to Cuenca, a 4 hour trip through the Andes Mountain region over the Cajas National Park at 2,450 meter above sea level. It was night so I decided to sleep, since there was nothing to see. After a short ride through the city of Cuenca, I arrived at my destination, at 10:30pm, a nice bed and breakfast "Save Haven" on the 6th floor in a partment building. Upon my arrival, the landlady, GayleMarie Bradshaw an American, who just moved to Cuenca 10 Months ago, welcomed me, offered a cup of tee and I was ready to call it a day.
Two weeks in Cuenca Ecuador
From this home you could see 360 degree around the valley, tall buildings in terra cotta color, single family homes with interesting roof structures. Nearby, the street is busy and next door grazing cows and one deer. New and old homes on the hills of the Andes majestically line the skylines.
My new friend, Gayle, was eager to show me all the greatness of Cuenca and everything this charming city has to offer, so we started off on our first adventure.
Every tribe has their own significant style of garment in beautiful colors. We bought papayas, bananas, berries, salads, tomatoes and much more. Of course, I was also compelled to bring home some of the beautiful roses. Ecuador is the number 1 rose exporter in the world with many of the shipments going to the USA and Europe. The tallest ones go to Russia. Even the rose petals vary depending on what country they are being shipped to.
The first stop was the Hat Factory, where a young lady tour guide explained and demonstrated the process of making a hat from the material to the finished product. Although the world calls them Panama hats, their origin is actually Ecuador, where the still being produced today and shipet worldwide.
We stayed in this beautiful place for a free Classical Concert with the Cuenca Orchestra that evening. The acoustics in that place, the harmony between the people and the music, it was easy to feel benevolent in the midst of love and grace.
This City is surrounded by the most precious architecture in churches and buildings, everyone with its own charm and beauty. There are churches on every corner, Cenaculo, La Merced, San Alfonso, San Blas, San Sebastian, San Domingo and many more.
Today is Sunday and all four of us living in this apartment are having lunch in Cooperas in San Joaquin, a 10 minute ride by bus 25 cents. First we were amazed with their greenhouses, seeing the growth of this vegetation, of delicious fruits and veggies for sale in the market next door. The restaurant is made out of bamboo with palapa grass roofs, surrounded by manmade lakes. The menu a new acquire for our test buts, qui -ginny pig with lots of interesting side dishes. Rice, plantains, corn and yucca. We women had delicious Guanabana water while the 2 men drank beer. Leftovers were brought home for dinner and the total came up to $32.00 including tips.
On the way back we see the planted fields around us, the livelihood of many indigenous here in Ecuador. One quarter of Ecuadorians are different tribes who live in separate valleys or mingle in the midst of the city with other cultures.
The peoples of Ecuador are very family oriented, you can see that the children have the best care. The enjoying the parks, playing, eating together, the mothers with their babies strapped to their backs a natural way for them to carry the child. Everyone simes happy and having family time togerther.
Earlier on Friday I went to the river for some needed quiet time to connect with nature. This river has something magical, it gives you a sense of peace and comfort. I admire the different indigenous families washing their clothes. The young mothers with their babies strapped to their backs, standing in the water and scraping the clothes on rocks. The whole family is busy getting the job done. Today is a perfect day to dry the clothes that are laid on the grass, while the children run and play, well protected by their parents. When the things are dry, they gather their belongings with many of these little ladies carrying the heavy loads on their back home.
When I arrived at the house, dinner was served and I was invited to some delicious fish and salad by my landlady and her friends.
The one man show is an interesting modern concept of theater, in an ancient building that has so many of its own stories to tell.
Tuesday night is Gringo nigh, the bar is packt with foreners meeting with friends to have dinner with them and reminissing about old times in this Restaurant meeting place for Americans.
The restaurant and therapy rooms are first class, but the pools and spas are not very inviting. Of the three, the largest one was a closet, the other two, too small to swim, and the pools not very clean. However, the water was a nice temperature to soak in and even though the weather is a bit unstable today, it doesn’t rain so we spend a part of the day to trying to catch some sun.
On our way home we lunch at the little sidewalk place for $ 4.50 per plate, before we take the bus back to the City.
In park Calderon, the famous Cuencanos sing their beautiful love songs of Cuenca. We stay till late, just feeling like a part of this great celebration. Latinos love to celebrate and create many fiestas to do so, bringing their families and enjoying the music and fireworks. The fiesta continues till Sunday.
The waiter tried to charge us $14 for them but with a bit of convincing we paid $ 7.00 for the two.
Red Flag!!! Gringo prices and local prices??? It is a bit frustrating that many time where the foreigners go, the locales try to overcharge. Sad to say we created this situation because the gringos always see this people poor, and this attitude of helping drives the value up and then everyone pays the price. We see this in every aspect, in tipping to much all the way to the housing market.
It is time that we adjust our thinking, so we to not ruin the market for every body. Not everyone can afford this inflated prices. We need to be consent as immigrates of any land to not mess with the balance of our new found paradise. I seen this same program in Mexico in Costa Rica and other places, and than we live because we do not want to settle anymore because it is to expensive. What about the locals, the are stock with this inflation and have to pay the price now. I hope we think and make wiser decisions, stop corrupting the countries you like to call home, because this habits and behavers is not helping nobody.
I could not resist a precious poncho, the price were right $13.00.
Wondering through the feria, we find several friends of Gayle made new ones, the two young Ecuadorian girls glad to pose with there beautiful costumes.
Climbing the beautiful staircase again, just across from the university, which occupies a whole city block. At the top you can see the famous stairs that lead to Tury on top of the mountains.. I did not have time to visit but I needed to leave some adventures for the next time.
If you are thinking of moving to a country like Ecuador, in my opinion what is most valuable is the Ecuadorian people who are very friendly and helpful, a lot of fun and clean.
Cuencanos are very interesting, lovely peoples who smile when you greet them, the like to communicate.
Their workmanship is great, if you see them fixing the street or refurbishing a house façade, the work is excellent.
The City of Cuenca is well cared for, the streets and parks are clean, and the amazing architecture, hundreds of years old, in mint condition. The workmanship of their facades and churches and Houses is outstanding. Little hotels, restaurants, shops and bars are elegantly and charmingly decorated.
Wherever you go, you can get acquainted with foreigners from around the world. This city of Cuenca houses about 500.000 peoples with approximately 2,500 who are expats. This brings a lot of different cultures together, especial with regard to food, architecture, and all the treats the peoples bring with them. This is what makes the city truly interesting.
Later we met the couple again when we stopped at the modern art museum where we toured his photographic work in the gallery. Jay traveled extensively through Mexico and South Americas demonstrating his art.
I fell in love with this water the first time that I sat at his banks and enjoyed its stories. For hours we walk alongside, enjoying the Sunday afternoon sun and the scenery.
I decide that the next time I come, I will bring my tracing board to capture its life force and beauty with pencil and paper, much better than with my camera.
On the way home we stop for a cup of Caffe in the Hotel Oro Verde.
That evening we relaxed at home with a cup of tea and some Quesadilla.
It was time for Richard to say good bey going to Wilkabamba for some weeks.
For me, the German bread and bezel, please.
On the way back home, Galyle needs some ingredients for pies that she will create in the next couple of days for her designated restaurants , San Sebas, WindHorseCafe and others.
For me, it is time to pack my suitcase and get ready for the next day.
I leave them and Cuenca behind secure in the knowledge that I will be back very soon.
A beautiful breathtaking four hour ride to the Cajas national park, rich green hills and towering mountains, down winding roads to the valleys where the thick fog is playing with the rays of sun and eventually the blue sky winn the day, on the way down hill near the ocean in Guayaquil.
Enjoy Dra Christina