A Travellerspoint blog

Back in Cuenca for the holiday weekend!

Cuenca


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I arrived at the terminal at 7am and by 7.35 I was on the right bus.

The journey took about 30 minutes longer than if I'd gone in a minivan, but that was because the driver had to drive a little more slowly, so I felt slightly safer than I had in August when the minivan was speeding round mountainside corners. I was also sitting higher up, and on the opposite side to where I had on the minivan, so I could see more of the incredible views we got once we began ascending into the mountains. Some of these views were astounding - layers of cloud spread out below us with mountain tops poking through. None of the mountains we saw were high enough to have snow on them, but it was still a beautiful sight!

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We arrived in Cuenca in bright sunshine. I remembered the way from last time, so I walked into the historic centre, passing shoeshiners and a lot of local women streetsellers on the way. One woman (and her small daughter) was sitting on the pavement with two great round, flat wicker baskets of live chickens and one smaller basket of eggs; others had pineapple, coconut and mango stands; others were sitting on chairs with sacks of clothes or bread rolls. I did a double take with one because I suddenly realised she was selling guaguas de pan, the sweet doll-shaped bread buns/ rolls that are widely eaten in Ecuador on All Souls' Day and a couple of days on each side. I stopped and bought four for a dollar; I ate two of them as I walked along and cunningly decided to save the other two for breakfast the next morning.

As I continued my walk I was surprised to hear 'Adagio for Strings' by DJ Tiesto come into earshot. Someone had put a loudspeaker out on their balcony and it was pumping out music, fitting in with the general festive atmosphere. It sounded quite surreal to me, because that version of the tune was played a lot in the nightclubs of Swansea when I was at uni there, so it reminded me of good times I had dancing until the early hours of the morning with my housemates.

Soon I reached the main square, realising with delight that I had arrived in the middle of a procession! To think that if I'd got a minivan at lunchtime like I wanted to originally, I would have missed this completely. It wasn't a religious procession, so I assumed it was an Independence of Cuenca one, held today instead of on the day itself (Sunday) for some reason. There were lots of colourful dancers, floats, balloons, etc., and recorded music. The historic setting was so beautiful - I wandered around taking photos from different viewpoints.

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The crowds looked slightly odd to me because a lot of people had umbrellas up to give themselves shade from the sun - not parasols, but normal umbrellas. One guy was even going round selling little umbrellas that go on people's hats.

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After quite a long time, I carried on to my hostel. Hostal Yakumama was easily found, quite close by to the one where I'd stayed last time.

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I was shown up into the hammock terrace - a large room on the top floor with a view over the tiled rooftops of Cuenca. It reminded me a bit of the view over the tiled rooftops of Lisbon from Next Hostel. Each hammock came with a blanket, and there were lockers we could use.

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I knew I wouldn't have time to handwash clothes this weekend like I usually do, so I'd brought laundry with me to Cuenca to sort out at a laundry place. There was a launderette opposite Hostal Yakumama, so I made full use of it. Once that was sorted I found an internet café to let people know I'd got here OK. I ended up staying on for a lot longer than I'd intended, so it was dark outside by the time I'd finished. I was struck by the cold when I stepped outside, so I fetched my Bolivian coat from the hostel before finding somewhere for dinner. I had a steak that turned out to be really thin, but also very wide and tasty. It came with rice, (naturally; this is Ecuador, after all...) and some chips and salad.

I was incredibly tired by now, so after dinner I went back to the hostel and read for a while before falling asleep in my hammock.

Posted by 3Traveller 08:43 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains hostel buses andes ecuador procession cuenca unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine traditional_customs

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