Enjoying Cuenca

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Nov 04, 2008

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Where I stayed
La casa del barranco

Flag of Ecuador  , Cuenca,
Monday, April 28, 2008

Here we are uploading more pictures and putting some comments in. We have kept it up to date, not only to keep our ever growing number of readers and "fans" happy (irony used here) but especially to avoid losing the photographs if something were to happen to our camera.

Today we received an e-mail from our Dutch friends that did the Inca Trail with us, and after a few weeks travel their camera, will all memory sticks was stolen in Arequipa (Peru). That is the third case we hear about with fellow travellers and if you dont have a copy it destroys your trip memories and souvenirs...terrible.

So in the worst case, if we lose our camera, we keep all the pictures which are much more important. In any case our camera is not exactly expensive, and Marcos keeps waving his walking stick around against anyone that dares step 1 metre too close!

Anyway, we managed to take some pictures of Cuenca today. Luckily we walked around until lunch, as at 2pm one of the strongest storms we have seen up to now broke loose keeping us in the hotel for 2 hours.

Cuenca is a very nice and ordered little city (third in size in Ecuador). The colonial buildings are spread all over the city and the streets are cobbled and in grid formation. We learnt that the original town was founded in 1557 following instructions of Andres Hurtado de Mendoza who was born in Cuenca (Spain).

We were wondering if the name came from the houses that are built next to the river which have some similarity to the hanging houses of Cuenca (Spain), or if a Spaniard from there felt homesick. It was obviously the first as the buildings appeared much later. However, its easy to compare both if you look at some of the pictures we have included.

Link to Cuenca Spain:

Apart from the small and noisy protest in the main square, the town is very clean and appears safe in most places although local police warn people to avoid wandering the streets after 10pm, so there must be crime somewhere. We did see local women washing themselves and their clothes in the Tomebamba river (right in the centre of the city), which we also saw in Vilcabamba, so this obviously indicates lack of running water somewhere no very far away.

Another strong influence around the river area, Austrians! There are 2 restaurant-bars on the same street (Cafe Austria and Sankt Florian), as well as a German pub-restaurant (Wunderbar). They all serve excellent food by the way and seem to be well managed (german and english press, good music, service, clean and well decorated). They even have the lunch menus for $US 3 (soup, main, dessert and fruit juice).

So the only bad news today...there is another football team in the World called Barcelona. It the Guayaquil one. Happily both the local one and the Spanish one are not going to win the national leagues this year!

About prices, everything is the same price or cheaper than in Vilcabamba. Obviously Vilcabamba is an area infested with "gringos" that are dollar happy and basically stuck in a valley where the closest supermarket is 1 hour drive away in terrible roads. We noticed the price of internet for example passed from $US1 in Vilcabamba to $US 50cents in Cuenca (with much higher speed). Internet, coke and coffee are always good price indicators for a place.

Finally on some local news:
- Ecuadorian and Colombian presidents (Correa and Uribe) keep fighting about the FARC as children, while French polititians waste all our tax money flying to South America for absolutely no reason or result. We say "our tax money" as Veronika and Marcos have paid an awful lot of taxes in France and received no services...lots of shoulder shrugging though! No wonder France is going down the drain... If only they dedicated all the travel money to local projects.

- Chavez has become an intelectual again: he stated that he is sorry for Spain and that Spain is not the "mother-land". He states that Africa is the mother-land for Venezuela. Judging by the manner he rules Venezuela, Mugabe pops to mind...he might be right.

Link to Chavez intelectual comments (Spanish):

Tommorrow we travel to Alausi (about 4 hours) so probably no update. Its a small town in any case. Cheerio all.
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