Where are we?

Cuenca, what a beautiful Colonial City - but first we had to get thru the fog again!

When we left Guayaquil we headed to the mountains again to cross over to Cuenca. Once again we were closed in with fog! Guess that is a problem when driving up at 13,500'! Once we got to the summit we got out to check out a view point and it was very cool out! We still had our shorts and t-shirts on and it was to cold for that! So we didnt stay out to long :)


The scenery was nice once we could see it!

Walking up to the viewpoint I found a few tiny flowers that didnt mind the cool weather

Love how the clouds just drop down into the valley

Going thru the Cajas National Park we saw many small lakes

Then so odd to see a stand of pine trees on the side of the mountain - almost like they were planted many years ago!

Only saw one llama and it was tied up at the side of the road

Once we got to Cuenca it warmed up since we are now at only 8000'!  I was surprised to see so many "Canadian" style homes!  This houses were just on the outskirts, but also saw some close to the centre of the city. Just strange to see this kind of architecture in Ecuador. Plus the houses have front, back and side yards behind their cement walls. Another thing we haven't really noticed before. I've read there are a lot of expats that live here in Cuenca.

We drove to a private house that lets overlanders park on their property for $10/n which included power, water, wifi, bathroom with shower, we're happy to stay here with the chickens and dogs LOL!! The owner spent some time in Holland and when we walked up he thought we were from Holland not Canada when he looked at me 😃 Guess I must still "have the look" LOL!!  The property is a 20 minute walk to downtown so works for us.

There are 4 small rivers that flow thur Cuenca, and they all have nice green spaces on both sides. Nice walkways to enjoy the sound of water.

Some streets even have boulevards with trees

We walked to the center of Cuenca from our parking site this morning.  There are many nice churches here. Also one of the oldest churches in Ecuador built it 1557. But now used as a museum since the congregation moved to the newer church across the park.  It's called the New Church even though it was started in 1887 and not totally completed until 1975! Its a beautiful church with 3 large light blue grazed tiled domes, the tiles were brought over from Czechoslovakia. The front looks a little odd because the bell towers were never completed. The reason being that the foundation could not support the weight of the tower and the bells! The interior is beautiful also with a gold leaf alter and enough room to seat 9,000 people!! At the time of construction the population of Cuenca was 10,000.  There are TVs set up on the columns for people to watch what is happening at the alter!  Gorgeous stained windows brought from Spain and pink marble brought from Italy for the columns.

Here you can see the TVs on the the columns

The gold leafed alter

Another interesting church with a dome and steeples made with different shades of green tiles

This area exports alot of flowers. Smells so nice walking thru here

One of the local indigenous women - their hats are even taller here

We then stopped at one of two large Mercados.  Lots of fruit, vegetables, roasted pigs sitting on counters ready to be enjoyed by the locals for lunch. We ended up buying half a kilo of the pork to take with us since we had just stopped and had coffee with a queso balone, so no room for another meal, but we love the pork, which we could eat as we walk along. Then on the lower level all types of meats are sold. Didn't walk down there - always a little to stinky for me!

Also lots of Queso fresco. About the only cheese used here 

Wide selection of meats for sale

We then walked over to a cell phone service shop and asked if they could change the battery in my iPhone because it doesn't hold a charge anymore. Yup no problem and the cost was only $25! Now I hope once it is charged up again it will not go dead on me within 2 hours!  After that we walked to an 8 storey building 1.5km from downtown so that we could go to the top and get a good view of the city.  It was a looooong walk to that building uphill! We were getting pretty pooped! But we made it and took the elevator up to the top for a wonderful view.

You can see the 3 domes of the New Church in the middle

Zoomed in - the blue looks so pretty

Once we got back down we took a bus back to downtown, 25 cents each. Needed to take a rest on the bus LOL!! Before getting on I asked if the bus was going to central and the driver said "Si!"  And once we got to the main street to take us to the central park he told us this was our stop.  But the reason I wanted to know if he was going to central was so we would be on the right bus, when we got off we still had 6 blocks to walk to get to the Panama Hat museum, we saw that the bus was still going straight and we could have stayed on longer! Bummer, more walking LOL!!

Outside a little souvenir shop were these mannequins dressed in indigenous outfits from different regions around here. All so colourful!

Another pretty wall painting
We eventually get to the museum/store. The Panama Hat was never made in Panama, it has always been made in Ecuador.  The main cities it was made was here in Cuenca and on the coast in the town of Montecristo.  The reason the hat was name Panama Hat was because during the building of the Panama Canal the workers needed hats that Panama could not supply so they came from Ecuador. It was when President Roosevelt wore the hat while visiting the construction of the Panama Canal that the hat became popular. The hat is weaved from leaves of a palm type tree found on the west coast of Ecuador. No we didn't buy any of the REAL Panama Hats because none looked as good as my $6 Panama hat I bought in Quito, same with Dwayne. Even though these hats were reasonably priced at $30-40. A REAL personally fitted hat can run into hundreds of dollars.

Different stages of hand weaved hats from start on the right to finished on the red cloth. 

Different metal forms for shaping during steaming

The steam machines with forms on the floor

Hats come from the weavers in the mountains with the unfinished  edges, then here the women trim the hats, like on the floor and then they are shaped, material trim put on the inside and outside

And then ready for sale from white to all different colors

Now it was almost 3:30 so we headed back to Vanna. By the time we get back we've put on 13kms of walking around the city and my hips are complaining!!!  Even Dwayne said his one hip was getting sore. Once we are back Dwayne pulls out our reclining chairs from underneath Vanna, grabs us a couple of beers and we plop into our chairs and enjoy a cold one! Think I'm going to be a little stiff tomorrow!!

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