Cuenca

According to WIKI, the city of Cuenca is located at about 8,200 feet with an urban population of approximately 400,000 rising to 700,000 inhabitants in the larger metropolitan area. The centre of the city is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site due to its many historical buildings.

The air is crisp and much cleaner than the other large cities like Quito or Medellin. And the air is very dry even though we are fast approaching the rainy season. We were the first AirBnB guests of Marco and Miriam. They are a retired couple who built what I would call a hacienda on the edge of town 8 years ago. The U shaped house has 4 bedrooms along the legs of the U with a large covered area in between and the living, dining, and laundry rooms and kitchen along the base of the U. There is a separate structure on the property where Miriam’s mother lives.

We took the bus to the center of town most days, $0.25 total for both of us each way. The bus stops within 100 feet or so of their property.

We took 2 tours in one day early on in our stay. One to the North part of town, the other to the South. The architecture in Cuenca shows Spanish, French, and Arabian influence. At least one building shows all 3 in the same building exterior.

There are 4 rivers in Cuenca. Along one street, the houses look like they are 2 story houses but when you drive along the street parallel to this street which fronts one of the rivers you can see that those houses are actually up to 7 stories high.

On the South tour, we went up to a viewpoint and then spent some extra time going to a famous ceramic workshop and bought 4 mugs, a small vase, and a number “7” to go on the manufactured home when we move back to Durango.

During the North tour we stopped at what I believe is the original “Panama hat” factory. All true Panama hats are made in Ecuador. The story about the name of the hats is that they were worn by the workers who were digging out the Panama Canal. When Teddy Roosevelt was photographed wearing one while he inspected the work, the name became “Panama” hat. These hats are lightweight and breathable which makes them very comfortable. More on them in another post.

I saw two little girls (maybe 5-7) on the bus with their hair braided from one side across their head to the other side. I wasn’t close enough to get a good picture but what might look like a headband is actually braided hair. Really cute!

Speaking of hair, not as many women have long hair here as in many places we have been although there are still lots who do. Guys aren’t always as well groomed as other places but they aren’t dirty or messy…just not as many with very recent haircuts.

Here are a couple of nice murals we have seen. One is probably the Devil vs God with earth in between. The other is a guy playing an electric guitar sitting in a field so that is a bit odd but nicely done.

Lots of dogs here, many loose. Loved this vendor who had their dogs dressed from paws to heads and in between.

Here is a good picture of what I have mentioned in the past…that commas and decimals are used differently in Latin America (and elsewhere maybe?). This is a sign for a building project with the cost down to the penny (cents are after the comma).

And finally, it is not uncommon to see people dressed up as a living statue for money. This was an especially interesting one because the man is only balanced on his arm. He must have a support under his clothes but nothing is visible from the outside.

Here is a random small mural I saw on a building. Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria maybe?

Waste water systems in Latin America can’t usually handle toilet paper so you throw your used paper in a trash can. Not my favorite thing but I am used to it. This is the most graphic sign have I seen on the subject.

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