Friday, October 25, 2013

Cuenca, EC ...2

We have now been in Ecuador going on 7 weeks and having a lot of fun while we see, experience and leave behind so many new memories. Our stay in Cuenca lasted a whole one month before we had the urge to see more of the countryside. During that time, I continued with my class work and Danny actually taught at the University of Cuenca for two weeks as a substitute English Professor.

Our reason for coming to Cuenca and getting an apartment - my volunteering in a women's clinic was all for naught. Our arrival coincided with a new decree/law put out by the President in which medical volunteers are no longer welcome. They are taking jobs from unemployed doctors and nurses, or so he says. What he wants however, is for all the ngo's to donate all the $$ that would be spent on the volunteer process to the government so that he can use it to hire into the positions that had previously been filled by volunteers. I even met a woman on the bus who I started to talk to while waiting for the bus who is a retired doctor. She had also been volunteering as a doctor 3 days a week, 4-5 hours a day, in a clinic and was let go also. So now she is looking for volunteer work outside of the country. So now I am looking for something else.

Cuenca, city of eternal spring, is a wonderful town, nestled in a valley at 8300 feet in altitude. Nestled, as it is, the winds don't come down into town like one would think the do unless the are blowing down or up the valley. It is like a bowl with the foul air from the vehicles and diesel buses and trucks, sitting in the bottom of the bowl. There is nothing to take these pollutants away from within the city streets. It is especially bad along the main thoroughfares and within the Old center of town - the UNESCO Heritage part. This however, does not detract from the beauty of the place. There are 3 rivers flowing through Cuenca, and one of them is said to be as clear and pure as when it comes down from the mountains.  I have not tasted any of them to see and do not intend to. It is a culturally diverse community: expats, Latinos and indigenous all rolled into one.  The architecture is fabulous and the cultural events occur almost daily and a lot of them are free.    The old and the new,  the typical found in the streets,  and the wonderfully weird.  

 One wall of the main bank building in the main plaza has been set aside for the various photographers to display their work. Another area, as stairway between the river level and the upper streets has been set aside for graffiti. There are two cathedrals, and old and a new in the main plaza, opposite to each other. The old is now used for concerts and events while the new is the bigger and the more opulent, and used for services.

We have our favourite restaurants and the cuisine here is a as varied as the nationalities represented. The best however, if you ask Danny, are the daily menu places where you get a full meal consisting of juice, soup, main course, and desert from $1.80 to 3.50 per person. And they do like their ice cream here. The museums abound, there is even one for the Panama Hat. One of the museums has displays of fabrics and dress from the Latin American countries. That is one we want to try and get to before we leave Cuenca for this trip.

Now we will be on the move again ...