A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about traditional customs

Palm Sunday in Cuenca

Guayaquil and Cuenca


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This morning Emma, Kate, Mark and Andrew got a taxi to Citymall, a shopping mall very close to me, where I met them and took them to see my flat. It felt quite strange, in a good way of course, to have them there with me in person when I have spoken to them so often online from the same room!

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After that I went back to their hostel with them by bus and waited while they finished packing up their stuff and checked out. Then we all went to the bus terminal to start our journey to Cuenca. I'd decided to go to Cuenca with them and stay the night there because I don't teach until the evening on Mondays. I'd been on this particular journey before on more than one occasion but obviously this was the first time the others had been. It takes about 4 hours and goes through flattish country at first, then up in the Andes.

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While still in the flat area we saw houses on stilts, rice fields, banana plantations and more, and when we were getting closer to the Andes Emma and Kate spotted what they think might have been a condor flying overhead! The journey was typically hair-raising, though, because although the inter-city and inter-provincial roads are very good in Ecuador, the driver had to deal with some very tight bends in the road and with driving through clouds as well.

We arrived in Cuenca in the new town, but walked over to our hostel which is in the old town just down the street from the main square. Once we'd dumped our stuff and Kate had emailed to say we'd arrived safely, we went for a stroll to the main square. This was very interesting because we saw lots of people walking around carrying palm leaves, flowers and various decorative palm crosses with foliage attached. It's Palm Sunday today. There were some people selling them on one or two of the benches, so Kate bought a palm cross with rosemary and another, unidentified herb attached to it.

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We then wandered past a market spread along on side of a street, through the flower market in an attached little square, and then into a bigger square where the main clothing market was almost completely packed up. On going back through the flower market Kate and I bought ourselves palm baskets, into which the seller threw free small branches of rosemary.

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On turning back into the main square, next to the cathedral, we could see people streaming in, most of them holding palm leaves etc, and in the cloisters and around the cathedral entrance there was a big cluster of street sellers selling the same things to people going in.

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After reassuring the others that the cathedral was big enough for us all to go inside to see what was going on without disturbing people, we went inside. On going in we could see lots of people sitting in the nave, and that the paraphernalia around the altar had palm leaves as decoration. We walked a little along one side of the nave and saw that the statues on one side of the main altar bit were decorated with palm leaves, too. We presumed that the service was a special Palm Sunday one.

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Once the priest began the service we made our exit and had dinner at a restaurant next door - I'd been there twice before, so could recommend it. The meal I had was amazing - a fish, vegetable & white sauce dish with a side of rice - but unfortunately Emma's and Kate's were the opposite. They ordered a fish dish where the fish turned out to be salty and quite tough, and the salad tasted strongly of capers or pickle despite not having capers or pickles in it. The restaurant had some artistic lampshades and vases made from painted cutlery.

After dinner I took Emma, Kate and Andrew on a quick tour of some of Cuenca's churches, because at weekends the fronts are lit up at night.

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We took some pictures of the side streets as well.

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Posted by 3Traveller 07:49 Archived in Ecuador Tagged mountains market cathedral hostel buses sisters andes ecuador cuenca guayaquil unesco_world_heritage_site traditional_customs colonial_church palm_sunday Comments (0)

Carnival, Day 3: Baños, tree swing and Ambato

Baños, La Casa del Arbol and Ambato


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Breakfast included a bunch of mini bananas hanging up for people to pick from! I've seen these in the supermarket before and they're not baby normal bananas; they're a separate type altogether. As soon as I saw them I really wished I liked bananas. I stuck to rolls with blackberry preserve in them, coffee and some scrambled eggs.

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After breakfast we took a taxi up one of the nearby mountains to a popular tourist attraction for Ecuadorians (I only saw a couple of non-Ecuadorians apart from me).... a swing that hangs from a tree placed so that when you get pushed, you swing over the edge of the mountain. There's a little treehouse in the tree branches that we climbed up into - there were spectacular views over forested mountains.

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The seat hung from a very long rope and it also had a rope that came round the front of the seat and clicked in to help prevent the person from falling out. One nod towards Health & Safety along with the metal support that helped keep the branch steady and unlikely to break. The go on the swing and climb up into the treehouse were both free. Needless to say, the experience of swinging so high felt like flying and it was absolutely exhilarating.

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On the way back from there it was fascinating to walk through town.

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Baños is filled with sugar cane stands, as well as traditional sweetshops selling sweets made from sugar cane and other things. At the doorway of each shop there was what looked like a wooden hook for coats or hats, but was actually for kneading and pulling what looked like a very stretchy rock or taffy that they pulled out and then cut into sticks. I didn't buy any this time, having decided to buy some in June when I come back here for longer, but there was a chap handing out free samples outside his shop so I tried one of those. The texture and taste was quite a like a chewit.

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After that I left the others in town and took the bus to Ambato with the intention of watching the Festival of Fruits & Flowers processions which Ambato is famous for holding at Carnival time every year. Unfortunately it looked like I had missed them, but it was still interesting to look round Ambato for a bit. Although I had missed the processions, when I arrived in the main square I could see and hear a concert going on right in front of the cathedral. That part of the square was absolutely packed.

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I walked through the main square, looked round a small and quite disturbing modern art exhibition and went into Ambato's modern cathedral. On the 30-second walk between the exhibition and the cathedral I bought something from a street stall - a soft batter bubble with sugar on top. It was only 25 centavos and it was delicious. The woman and her assistant did all the preparation in the street, kneading and shaping the dough-like batter before dropping the results into a large metal pan on the grill.

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The inside of the cathedral was quite light and spacious, with the inside of the main cupola and behind the altar painted sky blue.

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Near the altar there were pictures of the current Pope made out of what looked like rice grains, maize and other things stuck onto a background (maybe clay?)

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After I'd left the cathedral I was still hungry so I went back to the batter stall and bought another two. This time they had added a couple of small chunks of white cheese to the middle of each, but surprisingly (considering the batter was sweet) it still went well with the batter. Then I had to start thinking about getting back to Baños so I walked back through the main square, passing a stall next to the concert stage where a man was stretching glass bottles by melting and pulling the neck of each to make vases.

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Posted by 3Traveller 12:54 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art cathedral hostel carnival banos andes ecuador procession explorations ecuadorian_cuisine ambato traditional_customs Comments (0)

Journey to the Amazon: Carnival!

Guayaquil, Baños, Tena and Puerto Misahuallí


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I'd always wanted to be in a country that celebrates Carnival at that time of year, so now that Carnival had come upon us, I wanted to make the most of it! My friend/colleague 'E' and I went on a four-day trip to the mountains and rainforest with some friends of hers.

Our bus left Guayaquil's bus terminal at about 12.45 am. As snacks for the journey I bought a bag of small yellow sponge things that had jam in the middle and a little bit of sugar on the outside and a bag of small balls that looked like peanut brittle. Due to Carnival the terminal was crowded, despite the late hour. Guayaquil is very quiet at Carnival time because everyone goes off to the beaches at Playas, Salinas and Montañita or to places in the highlands like Baños, Ambato and Cuenca.

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I didn't get much sleep on the bus. I dozed off at one point but woke up because I was so cold; while I had dozed off we had clearly arrived in the mountains and the altitude had increased enough for a temperature change. I'd been in a sleeveless top before but now had to put my Bolivian coat on. I only managed to doze off again once or twice more before we arrived at Ambato at about 6.30 am. We only stopped there for a few minutes before carrying on to Baños, where we arrived about an hour later. Our arrival was interesting not only due to the amazing setting - mountains tower over Baños on every side - but because of the clouds. It was mostly sunny but there were a couple of very flat, low-lying clouds that we could clearly see both above and below. One of them looked almost like a bridge between two parts of the valley.

I was intrigued by the stalls set up on both sides of the terminal. They had bunches of what looked like green bamboo, long poles leaning up against the wall next to them and small ones upright underneath the stalls. I found out later that these were actually sugar cane.

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We had some breakfast at a café near to the bus terminal. Bread rolls with white 'queso fresco' inside, scrambled eggs, a glass of borojo juice (a fruit native to the Amazon) and a cup of hot milk (or hot water, if you fancied it) to which you could add coffee or hot chocolate powder.

Breakfast was relaxed but we only had time for a quick toilet stop after it because our bus to Tena was due to leave at 8.15. Tena is a 'jungle town' north of Puyo. As we sat on the bus waiting for it to depart (which it did half an hour after it was supposed to - other passengers started getting annoyed and called out to the driver "Vamos!"), I heard the crowing of a cockerel coming from very close by - apparently it was coming from inside the luggage hold below us! It did sound like it was directly underneath us.

It was still quite bright when we left Baños but about 30 minutes later it started to rain. It didn't last that long though. The journey took about four hours. Once we had arrived in Tena we didn't have long before we had to get another bus to the even smaller town of Puerto Misahuallí, which is on the banks of the River Napo. This took another hour.

We were dropped off in the town centre, which would probably have been sleepy at any other time of year but wasn't this weekend because of Carnival! There was a small fruit and vegetable market in the square, with wares spread out on blankets on the ground, and children and teenagers roamed with spraycans of foam... water-throwing and foam-spraying is a Carnival celebration very widespread in Ecuador! On almost every side there were little stalls set up selling cans of foam for $1. Luckily, for now at least the children and teenagers seemed to be concentrated in the park in the middle of the square, not at the corner where we were, so we crossed the River Napo bridge and up a hill to our accommodation without much damage.

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Our accommodation was a set of cabins, one of which was split into two dorms, where we stayed. In mine there was one single, a double and a bunk bed - nobody else wanted the top bunk so I took it. There was mosquito netting fixed over the windows.

Soon we headed out to our first excursion - a trip on the River Napo to two Kichwa-speaking indigenous communities. We stopped in town for a late lunch, however, on the way to the small riverbeach where the wooden motorised canoes leave from. There was a restaurant where the food was cooked on grills outside the front - whole fish and parcels of stuff wrapped in palm or banana leaves.

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As we watched for a while, the woman reached into a small water-filled tub and retrieved three very large and fat maggots, which she skewered and put on the grill... we weren't tempted, strangely enough!

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What we did have was the fish; tilapia, commonly eaten in the Amazon. They had been gutted but were completely whole apart from that. The flesh was very white and juicy and there had clearly been butter involved in the cooking process as well - it was delicious. We had one each; they came with yuca, a slice of lime and a salad made from raw onion, tiny pieces of cheese, herbs and a white vegetable I didn't recognise.

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The trip on the River Napo took about 10 minutes. The River Napo is a tributary of the Amazon, so I had always pictured there being mudbanks on every side, but in fact there were a lot of large, very smooth stones.

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Once we arrived at the first indigenous settlement we were shown round by the guide - he showed us lots of plants that have special uses, for example a couple of poisonous ones used for blowpipes, ones with medicinal uses, and a cinnamon plant (he handed round one or two leaves form it; I bit into one and it did indeed taste very strongly of cinnamon). There was also a pond with a couple of caimen in it and two small enclosure with a peccary and capybara inside.

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We saw some massive ants on one tree trunk - the biggest I've ever seen! Apparently if antagonised their bites are extremely painful. He showed us round a hut filled with examples of pottery, shells (he demonstrated blowing into one conch shell and we all had a go), jewellery, spears and other things. We finished up in another hut where there were samples of jewellery, balsa wood parrots, little bottles of natural remedies, spears and arrows and more. I was really tempted by the arrows but didn't think I'd be able to get them back to the UK in my luggage, so I didn't get any.

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It was lovely to stand on the bank of the Napo before we climbed back down the bank to the canoe, because I could see nothing but forest on every side.

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After this we visited another community on the other side of the river. They had a volleyball game going on in the middle of their square. We were welcomed with a dance by some of the women and we had a chance to be 'cleansed' by a shaman - I passed on this because although no doubt the roots of it are genuine to the community, it seemed quite put on for tourists. I had a wander round another hut filled with handmade souvenirs, but didn't buy anything. I wish I had now, though.

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Lunch had been very late for us so it wasn't long after we got back that we had some dinner. This time we had another type of grilled fish; I've forgotten its name but it was massive, with enough meat on it for four people. Those of us who chose it, including me, had one in the middle of the table for us to share, with bowls of rice and yuca and the same type of salad I mentioned before. Once again it was delicious. The flesh not only looked a very creamy colour but tasted creamy as well.

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It was after dark by the time we finished. Once we got back to our accommodation I had a much-needed shower and went to bed. Some of the others went back out for a drink or two, but by the time they decided to do so it had started pouring with rain and I felt so nice and dry and comfortable, as well as tired, that I decided just to get an early night instead.

Posted by 3Traveller 10:06 Archived in Ecuador Tagged bridges birds hostel buses parrots carnival banos ecuador guayaquil tena ecuadorian_cuisine misahualli river_trip peccary traditional_customs Comments (0)

UNESCO World Heritage Site: City of Quito

Quito


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We were up bright and early and sat down for our free breakfast as soon as it was available, at 07.30. It was nice and sunny, but we could see clouds moving over Pichincha Volcano in the distance. It looked like we would only get a couple of hours of sunshine before it became overcast. Breakfast was big and lovely; it was a sit-down meal, not a buffet. In succession we were each brought a small plate of fruit (a slice each of papaya, pineapple and apple, with half a banana sliced lengthways), a small glass of drinking yoghurt, a glass of strawberry juice, coffee, a basket to share between us containing two croissants and two slices of bread, two slices of ham and some eggs (Mum had hers scrambled, I had mine fried). We both felt very full, but nicely fortified for the morning ahead.

As soon as we finished breakfast we set off. The trolebus was very crowded, due to rush hour, but we made sure to keep an eye on our pockets and bags. I felt so excited when the sight of the architecture we passed told us that we were now within the Old Town! This excitement intensified even further once we stepped out of the bus, walked along a street to our right and entered Plaza Grande, the main square. Finally I was standing in the middle of Quito's Old Town - fulfilling a dream I had held for many, many years.

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The first thing we saw was a white, cloister-like walkway, with arches along the side, that leads across one side of the plaza. At the pillar by each arch there was a shoe-shiner at work. We saw an open gateway that lead into a very quiet courtyard - it turned out to be a former Archbishop's palace.

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The buildings didn't seem to be open to visitors so we just sat in the courtyard for a bit before going out again into Plaza Grande. As we walked into the courtyard we had noticed a strange bonelike pattern set within the cobblestones; they looked a lot like human vertebrae. On our way out we looked more closely and saw that they were in fact real bones!

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After that we wandered around Plaza Grande for a while. There was a protest going on in front of the Government Palace, with chanting and flag-waving but nothing more vigorous.

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Mum had to sit down for a while because she was feeling the altitude a bit, but I took a few photos. Then we walked along a raised path that runs alongside the cathedral. This gave us a good view of the plaza but meant we were raised up out of the hubbub.

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Just beyond one corner of Plaza Grande was our next destination - the church of La Compañía de Jesús.

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This very old Jesuit church has a stunningly beautiful and eye-catching interior of gold. We spotted indigenous plants painted amongst the carvings on the pillars, as well as one or two indigenous face carvings. The inside of the domes were beautifully painted, too.

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If I could I would have taken loads of photos, but unfortunately I was told that photos weren't allowed. I still managed to take a couple on the sly, having hidden out of view behind a pillar, but I didn't have time to take any close-ups of anything. After looking round the church itself we went into a little room with a display of big heavy bells dated from 1926 and then into a little museum with a temporary display about the history of the Jesuits in Ecuador.

We had entered the church as soon as it opened at 09.30, and we were glad we had, because as we left we saw tour buses outside with groups milling around taking pictures of the church exterior. They were clearly just about to go in, so it looked like we had timed our visit perfectly.

After this Mum felt in need of a drink and a sit down, so we went into a covered courtyard that had a notice outside it saying there was a traditional café inside. The café had its shutters down but there was a large wool and sewing shop close by that Mum wanted a look round. I left her in there while I looked around for a suitable café. When I came back she was pondering buying some balls of alpaca wool, but she decided not to get any in the end. We sat down at a nearby café and had a glass bottle of orangeade (only 50 centavos each).

Next we walked on to Plaza San Francisco. This is also very picturesque because the monastery is the main building and behind it looms Pichincha Volcano. The clouds had come over by now unfortunately, but it didn't rain. Mum sat down on some steps while I walked round the plaza and got some cash out from a Banco Pichincha ATM.

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Once I got back we walked over to a café called 'Tianguez' that has a wonderful Fair Trade shop attached to it that sells genuine handicrafts from all over Ecuador. We had a great time exploring - at the back the rooms turned into an orange-painted narrow corridor that had clearly been part of the monastery's crypt or catacomb. On one wall of the corridor there was painted written information about the different indigenous tribes of Ecuador and their beliefs and mythology; on the opposite wall were examples of their different crafts (masks, pottery figures, bowls, etc.). It was really interesting and I definitely recommend you visit it too. I didn't buy anything but Mum got an alpaca jumper and a packet of 'Yumbo' coffee.

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After using the café's facilities we sat down and looked at the menu, but they didn't have much of a selection, so we moved on. We wandered the streets for a while. Mum really wanted some fruit, so we stopped at a street booth and I got us an apple each and a pound of grapes. Then once we remembered they needed washing in bottled water, I got a bottle of water as well. We carried on back to Plaza Grande and while Mum sat down on a stone bench and started on the fruit, I got up to see what food was on offer in the vicinity. The first place I found, a tiny café under the side of the cathedral, sold pork sandwiches and empanadas and a variety of other snacks, both savoury and sweet, so we both went in and sat down. I ordered us a pork sandwich each and a black coffee (I asked for 'café con leche' for Mum, but they didn't have any milk) and a meringue to share. The sandwiches turned out to be rolls with quite a lot of cold pork in them as well as some raw tomato and purple-stained onion. The whole tasty lot came to only $5.10.

Next we walked to Plaza Santo Domingo, where the Trolebus stop was that we needed to use. There was a parade of teenage schoolchildren in the square marching around, some banging massive drums and others holding metal portable glockenspiels (like the ones I saw at the Independence of Guayaquil processions in October) or nothing at all. Not sure what the occasion was! Before they got properly into their stride, however, our Trolebus arrived to take us back up into the New Town.

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Once we got back to the Travellers Inn we had a bit of a lie down before going out again, this time to a particular handicrafts shop down the road called 'Galería Ecuador Gourmet'. The first thing we did on arrival was have a hot drink - Mum was desperate for a coffee and I had a hot chocolate for the first time in Ecuador.

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Then we had a really good look round the shop, which had two floors. It was brilliant! Some things were quite expensive, but others were much more reasonable. I bought myself a t-shirt and Mum got a few things for people at home. She also bought me a lovely white rather indigenous-looking shirt as part of my birthday present. We also tried some of the chocolate samples that were left out in little bowls. In one of the rooms upstairs I saw giant balls of alpaca wool (large rubber balls really, wrapped in wool) so I had to get a picture of Mum next to them!

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It was around 7 pm by the time we got back and we were quite peckish, so we had a small pepperoni and a medium 'mixed' pizza at the guesthouse instead of going out again for food. Unfortunately they had clearly come straight from the freezer and then cooked so that the top was a little dried out and the bottom not cooked enough, but they were very cheap and we were hungry so we ate them. Then we played cards for a while. First we played 10-card rummy and then whist where you start with 9 cards each and work down. Last of all, before we went to bed, Mum taught/ reminded me of how to play several different versions of Patience.

Posted by 3Traveller 07:31 Archived in Ecuador Tagged museum hostel mum quito andes ecuador procession explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_grande plaza_san_francisco fair_trade_shop plaza_santo_domingo traditional_customs colonial_church Comments (0)

Independence of Cuenca Day

Cuenca


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I spent a better night this time because I took better precautions against the cold; tucking in my t-shirt, wearing my coat instead of using it as a pillow, tucking the blanket into the hammock more, etc. I still woke up once or twice but I went back to sleep again quicker and I slept in a bit longer. Once I’d woken up properly a church bell started clanging nearby. Like the day before, I had two guaguas de pan for breakfast in my hammock whilst reading my guidebook. Filled with the joys of life, I then headed into town (only five minutes’ walk from the hostel).

I didn’t have any particular plans for today apart from just to wander round and take in whatever happened. I walked round the main square first for a look round. Some banners of the city’s coat of arms, made of flowers stuck onto board, were standing in front of the statue/monument in the middle. These had clearly been put up in celebration of the Independence of Cuenca.

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The other things in the square, however, I recognised from when I was here in August - the man hiring out his massive cuddly-looking St Bernard dog for photos with members of the public (I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog that big before); the leather-saddled model horses for children to sit on and have their photos taken, complete with leather cowboy hat; the itinerant icecream sellers with coolbags filled with ice lollies. The latter are also a common sight in Guayaquil.

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When I first entered the square I’d seen lots of people stream out of the cathedral doors. After I finished my walk round I went inside. Another service had clearly begun almost straight away, for it was in full swing when I entered. I heard the voice of the priest booming from the loudspeakers attached to the columns on both sides of the nave.

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Then I noticed the candles burning in front of the shrines along each wall, and suddenly remembered that a while ago Dad had asked me to light a candle for him. So I walked along until I got to the shrine at the far end, before looking around for somewhere I could get a candle. I couldn’t see any anywhere, but then I noticed a doorway with people going in and out, so I went in too. I didn’t know the Spanish word for candle but thought I could mime lighting one and hopefully they’d understand. There was a nun standing behind some railings, but just as I waited to speak to her I noticed an open doorway next to me with stairs leading down to the crypt. A notice said it was $1 to enter, but the nun just waved me down, so I guessed that the fee is waived on Sundays or holidays.

As always when I see the word ‘crypt’ I thought of the little rhyme that begins ‘The cat crept into the crypt...’! I had that in my mind most of the time I was in there. I put my dollar into the ‘crypt maintenance’ box, seeing as the nun hadn’t asked for it upstairs, before walking round. It was a small crypt; first there was a shrine with chairs in front of it, then a corridor flanked with grave compartments and a couple of statues of angels. There was a much small shrine at the end of it.

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Once I’d walked back upstairs I saw to my consternation that the door to the main part of the cathedral was locked. I knocked on it, but just as I did that the nun appeared from behind me and opened it. She asked me something in Spanish – I guessed from the context and the word gente (‘people’) that she was asking if there was anybody else still in the crypt, so I said no. For most of the time I’d been the only person there.

Relieved, I stepped back out into the main part of the cathedral. I noticed a man come up, arrange and light three red candles that he’d had in his hand, and then I suddenly remembered the stalls directly in front of the cathedral that sell candles and other religious paraphernalia. That’s where I was supposed to get hold of candles, not from inside the cathedral! So I went outside and bought a white one, before coming back in and lighting it.

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Then I hung around to see how the rest of the service panned out. There were lots of other people walking around the back and sides; some of these were taking photos, so I didn’t stand out too much when I did the same. I didn’t understand a lot of what was being said, apart from things like 'todos los santos' and 'Madre de Dios'. There was a communion, with a gold cup and bowl taken from within a gold box in the altar, but only the front couple of sections of the congregation went up for it.

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Then, during a hymn/piece of recorded music, the collectors went round with bags on the end of sticks. Soon after this about two thirds of the congregation left, so I assumed that was the end of the service, but then a nun started speaking into the microphone, so I’m not actually sure.

I left too, because I suddenly realised I’d spent ages in the cathedral and I wanted to see if anything was going on outside. There was, as it turned out; a protest. There were demonstrators crowded outside one of the official buildings at the side of the square. It was quite small, and peaceful, but was quite loud. They appeared to be disaffected immigrants. One row of soldiers and another of police separated them from the entrance to the
building.

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I hung around for a while but then moved on to have another look at the handicrafts market that ran along one side of the cathedral. I watched the glassblower for a while but didn’t buy anything. I had another quick look round the market where I'd bought the jumper yesterday, but didn't buy anything there either. I did however see some people crowded round a stand, so I went to investigate. It turned out to be a salesman with plastic models of parts of the human body around him, and bags of leaves and roots and bottles of what I assumed were ointments, salves or medicine. The guy was speaking into a microphone and the crowd was lapping it up, reaching forward to take the bottles he occasionally proffered.

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Then I bought a bag of fresh pineapple chunks from a pineapple and coconut stand and sat down on a stone bench at the flower market opposite to eat them. As I sat there I pondered what to do next. I thought about going online or just back to the hostel for a rest, but then I remembered the river Tomebamba and decided to go for a walk along it. On my way there I stopped at an almuerzo (set lunch) café and had a plate of seco de pollo and bottle of Pepsi for $2.50.

Once I got to the river I congratulated myself on my decision to come, because I saw a whole series of market stalls, under gazebos and open-sided tents, stretching along both sides of quite a decent-sized stretch of the river. As well as the stalls, there were many more people with their wares on the ground in front of them. The market was the ‘Festival de Artesanías de América’, and there were stalls from Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Peru, Suriname and Paraguay.

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I bought myself a $1 llama keyring made from twisted reeds/straw, and then had a look inside a tent run by the Asociación de Mujeres de Huaoranis, the women of the Huaorani, a Kichwa speaking tribe who live in the Amazon rainforest. Kichwa is a native language quite widely spoken in the highlands and the rainforest in Ecuador. As well as necklaces and string bags and other things, there were some photos of some tribespeople, which appeared to be just as exotic to the middle classes of Cuenca as they were to me, for they crowded round taking photos of the photos with their phones.

Then I realised I needed to get some cash out, so I walked back into town. On the way back from the cash machine I noticed that there was a little art exhibition on inside the Superior Court of Justice building, so I went inside. The interior was beautiful, full of marble and very light because of the glass roof. I was really taken with one picture of fish, but it was $600 so I wasn't tempted to buy!

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On my return to the market I wandered around both sides of the river. I made two purchases but won't say what they were here... I also bought myself a stick of candy floss for 50 centavos. I walked round the park next to the river, too; rather surreally it was dotted with giant plastic models of dinosaurs. There were also a couple of club-jugglers.

After I left the river I went for another walk round town. At one side of the flower market a woman had set up a stand with an industrial-sized saucepan/tureen on it.

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Just as I passed by it I did a double take because I overheard her say to a customer 'Colada Morada' ! Colada Morada is the drink traditionally drunk in Ecuador with guaguas de pan on 1st/2nd November. I simply had to buy some! It's purple, made from black corn flour, blackberries, other fruits (these vary, but mine had some little chunks of pineapple), sugar and spices - you can get it hot or cold, but mine was hot. It was delicious!

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A couple of hours' rest back at the hostel followed before I went out again for dinner. I had shrimp ceviche, yuca chips and some Fanta at this place;

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Then I walked round looking at the fronts of the churches, which are lit up on weekend nights. I took one or two photos before going to bed.

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Posted by 3Traveller 09:59 Archived in Ecuador Tagged bridges art night market spanish cathedral hostel dad andes ecuador cuenca unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine traditional_customs colonial_church Comments (0)

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