Shrunken heads in a colonial gem

Trip Start Dec 14, 2007
Trip End Mar 16, 2009

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Where I stayed
Hotel Milan

Flag of Ecuador  ,
Monday, November 24, 2008

IMH: Cuenca, Ecuador's third largest city is charming with colonial beauty - complete with cobble stone streets and breathtaking architecture around every corner.
We had one full day to explore Cuenca before embarking on our next bus journey to cross the border to Peru. We designed our own walking tour and started with the flower market, followed by two amazing cathedrals. Even though Ecuador is not the world's richest country, the churches are adorned with gold, beautiful frescos and an abundance of fresh flowers.
The Museo del Banco Central "Pumapungo' was a highlight, giving a history of Ecuadorian money (guess that's the link to the 'banco'), art and culture, specifically the ethnographic exhibit. We thought that many of the local cultures' rituals and believes can be tied to those of the African tribes. A unique feature is the three human tsantas (shrunken heads) on display. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos and it is hard to believe that a human head can be shrunk to fist size, but we saw it and will live to tell the tale!
To understand the history of the different 'tribes' a bit better, we visited the very interesting Museo de las Cukturas Aborigenes, which houses more than 5000 archaeological pieces representative of about 20 Ecuadorian pre-Columbian cultures.
Feeling all cultured-up we spent the rest of the day meandering the streets and appreciating the special hat shops and local produce, which includes knitted Lama - and El Paca wool products.
We had a lovely time in beautiful Cuenca.
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