Thursday, February 06, 2014

Update From Cuenca

This is our next to last day in Cuenca, the 3rd largest city in Ecuador, and the most southerly place we have visited. We have been here for 6 days and have enjoyed exploring this very old city with a delightful Colonial center. It is located at about 8300 feet altitude, which is 1000 less than Quito. The weather here is supposedly warmer and better than Quito, but has been rather sporadic during our time here. In fact, it is raining heavily as I write this, and it rained last evening as well. The general pattern is that it is overcast when we wake up, then the clouds clear up and the sun comes out for a while, then in late afternoon the clouds are back and it rains. We have been staying in a room we rented on which is on the 3rd floor of a house where there are other rented rooms on the second floor and a language school on the first floor. We scan use the kitchen there too. It is in a quiet neighborhood, but occasionally the girls on the second floor are noisy in the night. Each day we explore something, and have managed to do quite a few things here. Day before yesterday we took a bus to an outlying village called Chordeleg, which was clean and quiet, and loaded with jewelry stores. Most of the residents in the area make jewelry, especially filigree jewelry. Elaine bought some nice earrings. Yesterday we went to a ladies lunch with a bunch of Gringo ladies. There is a big ex-pat community here, and we welcomed the chance to talk to some of them and find out about why they have relocated here. Today we spent several hours walking around the zoo, which is just outside of town and located high up on a hillside, with very steep paths and rustic enclosures for the animals. One of the big events that happened several days ago was the eruption of the volcano Tungurahua, not far from Baños, several hundred kilometers away. But the winds were such that a lot of ash ended up all over everything here in Cuenca. We were in Baños just before coming here, and were glad that we left when we did because the roads near there ended up being closed by the eruption. Our time in Baños was enhanced by meeting 3 couples at our hotel who were visiting from Salinas, a city on the coast. They are from Canada and the USA and we all enjoyed happy hours together and also some dinners. They helped Elaine celebrate her birthday on Jan. 28. They all are renting places for 3 months in order to try living in this country, and it was interesting to hear their stories. Saturday we fly back to Quito to stay in a hotel near the new airport, which is very far outside of Quito. Sunday we meet our Galapagos tour rep at 5:45AM and we fly to Baltra, on one of the islands. We will board our 16 passenger yacht near there and our 8 day Galapagos adventure begins. Our flight home is on Feb. 18, and I will try to post more details and pictures as soon as I can after our return.