A Weekend in Cuenca

What is a weekend?  It used to be that thing I awaited for all week.  Those days you started planning for midway through the week.  What is it now?  I hardly know the date except weekends and holidays are those annoying times the streets are clogged and it’s harder to find a place to sleep.  Bundled with the fact that I have travel fatigue, it meant for what could’ve been a terrible weekend trip to the relatively expensive, gringo filled tourist city of Cuenca.  Why no, I do not care to do a tour or to see another bloody church.  Yet, I got introduced to a friend of a Couch Surfer and it was a packed weekend of fun.

First up was visiting the Museo del Banco Central and Pumapungo.  It had exhibits (some reminiscent of elementary school dioramas) of all of Ecuador’s various cultures.  Behind the museum is the ruins of an Incan town destroyed to build the buildings of Cuenca.

There's also a beautiful garden and rescue aviary.

There’s also a beautiful garden and rescue aviary.

Ecuador is home to a whole lot of birds and flowers.

Ecuador is home to a whole lot of birds and flowers.

It’s been a little bit since Europe which means my church fatigue has lessened.  That’s helpful as there are churches every block or two it seems.

It's a good way to remember where you are in town.

It’s a good way to remember where you are in town.

While I found the churches a little ragged in Quito with their broken stained glass windows, Cuenca had no such issues.

Am I in Europe?

Am I in Europe?

No, I am not in Europe.  Sometimes there’s just weird stuff.

"Who is Juan Pablo?" "The last pope!" "OH! JOHN PAUL!"

“Who is Juan Pablo?” “The last pope!” “OH! JOHN PAUL!”

It was a day of parades and celebration, some sort of religious festival related to no longer sinning but mostly celebrated today as lots of joking.  I was confused why I only saw mostly white baby Jesuses being carried around with a few black ones in a country full of mostly brown people.  End your European servitude!

I didn't know Ecuadorians had Maypoles… or Januarypoles.

I didn’t know Ecuadorians had Maypoles… or Januarypoles.

There’s a lot of leatherwork in this country and it’s visible on the men as part of some of their traditional dress.

Both the men and women have heavy traditional costumes for the cold Sierran weather that sure makes this jump-heavy dancing hard.

Both the men and women have heavy traditional costumes for the cold Sierran weather that sure makes this jump-heavy dancing hard.

All over town you’d see horses, people dressed as the three wise men, and hear all sorts of yelling and singing.

A "banda de puebla", or town band blaring across the square at a second band.

A “banda de puebla”, or town band blaring across the square at a second band.

As evening approaches, it was possible to see groups gathering all over town in costume getting ready to join the big parade of the evening.  For me the highlight may have been wandering the deep fry food stalls lining the entire parade route.  I watched about five or six floats of the weirdly Avatar themed bunch before we all got tired and headed home.

These terrifying and well organized clowns were on their way to the night parade.

These terrifying and well organized clowns were on their way to the night parade.

On my last morning, I went to the oasis of cheap delicious eats even in pricey tourist towns, the local market.

This three story market was likely the cleanest I've seen in a developing country.

This three story market was likely the cleanest I’ve seen in a developing country.

On my hurried walk back to pack and head out, I saw perhaps the most beautiful building I saw all weekend.  The whole town is covered in pleasing colonial buildings that make a great ambiance.

I struggled to find a good picture of colonial Cuenca and found it on my way out.

I struggled to find a good picture of colonial Cuenca and found it on my way out.

Cuenca is, for a short vacation, a lovely and picturesque city.  I imagine it’s quite the pleasant place to live with an interesting art scene, international food scene, and beautiful clean architecture and streets.  I have enjoyed my time here but am happy to move on quickly as well.  Onward and southward on my slow motion towards Peru.

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3 comments
  1. Katie Parks said:

    If the festivities were happening on Sunday, then it might’ve been an Epiphany festival or a festival for the arrival of the Three Wise Men in Bethlehem. Both of those happen on January 6.
    Also, Danny and I were super-sad to hear about your close encounter with the theft-minded kind. We’re just glad it wasn’t worse. Any way we can send you something physical through the mail? Let me know if you end up with a moderately stable address.

    • Hmm I was told it was the day of the three wise men in another town. However they kept telling me the name in Spanish, it started with an N and I could never quite understand it. Only speaking Spanish for a whole weekend is great for practicing but terrible for me comprehending because I get tired.

      Thanks for the thoughts. I just think it was great luck to make it through all my time near SC sans incident! Unfortunately I’ll just be flying without some stuff as I do not indeed have an address!

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