Jul 9 – On our last day in Cuenca, we checked out the Cathedral.
Across the street is the Old Cathedral, which is now a museum with frescoed walls and some passionate paintings.
We visited the flower market.
The Museo Pumapungo contained Incan ruins, shrunken heads (no photos allowed) and a botanical garden with llamas and parrots.
Lunch here (almuerzo) always consists of a bowl of soup, an entree and a dessert (postre). This wins the prize as the chintziest dessert ever – a single Ritz cracker smeared with jam!
The Museum of Modern Art was interesting.
And we ran into Dante, the student working for world peace, who works in a fair trade shop by day.
We had a great time in Cuenca – if you’re looking to retire to an exotic location, put Cuenca on your list!
Jul 10 – Today we flew back to Quito Airport, so we would be in place for our flight home tomorrow. One short flight sure beats all day on a bus! Had our last breakfast of scrambled eggs, bread and white cheese.
Jul 11 – Got to the airport at 3am for our flight to Miami, then home to Norfolk without a hitch. So happy to see David’s smiling face at baggage claim! So we are home, with a dog who is happy to see us, hugs from grandkids and a garden full of ripening tomatoes. Til next time!
July 5 – Last bus ride today! Six hours to Cuenca. Lots of pretty green mountains viewed from the bus window.
We are staying at Hotel Pegasus, which we were informed has bunny rabbits in their patio. And sure enough, they do! Our host told us that a few years ago there was a festival in town, and several magicians stayed at the hotel. When it came time to leave, the magicians said it was easier to buy new rabbits in the next town than pay to take them on the plane, so they left them behind. So cute!
Jul 6 – We are here to see our friend Nancy, who we originally met on the Semester at Sea in 2008. After Nancy left the ship, she served three years in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan, then looked for a place to retire. The expatriate community gave Cuenca rave reviews, so she packed her suitcases and flew here seven years ago. It’s a great city, and the water is drinkable here!
Cuenca is proud to be the place where Panama hats are made.
So why are they called Panama hats? The poor hat makers of Ecuador traveled to Panama to sell their wares in the 1800s, so travelers thought that the hats came from Panama. Then Teddy Roosevelt wore one when he traveled there to officiate at the opening of the Panama Canal. That sealed the deal. We toured the museum that showed how the hats are made.
The locals like them too. Pretty nifty.
Our hotel is right near the Cathedral, so we set off to see it, but it was closed for the installation of a new bishop. We got to hear the municipal band and see all the priests and bishops gathered for the ceremony.
Cuenca is built along the Rio Tomebamba, and we walked along its pretty garden path.
Jul 7 – We were warmly welcomed into the expat community here, participating with Nancy in a morning Shambala group meditation, then accompanying the group of 20 or so out to a long and animated lunch complete with a birthday cake for one of the group. Sitting near me were retirees from New York, California, New Jersey, Ohio. A college student from Connecticut here on a grant to promote world peace. Americans here for dental work or medical procedures, here to escape India’s monsoon season, here to make their Social Security checks stretch farther. Culture shock for us.
We walked through a park with some interesting tree sculptures.
We checked out one of the many pretty churches here. Did you know that Santa Zita was the patron saint of domestic employees?
More street art.
Jul 8 – Today we journeyed forth to find a plate for our wall collection. Yesterday at lunch we asked the expats for suggestions, and the overwhelming recommendation was to find the studio of Eduardo Vega and son. Google showed us the studio, at the other end of town, and up a steep hill. It’s a grey and rainy day. Should we walk? Nah – taxis will take you just about anywhere here for a dollar.
Up we went. Here’s the misty view from the top of the hill.
The Vega studio was a joy to behold.
So many plates – most of them as big as shields!
Tiles and sculptures too.
The artists were not on site, but the workshop was busy painting the works.
Which plate did we choose? You’ll have to drop by the house and see!