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.
We visited the textile museum.