Home on Whidbey is a family blog revolving around Fran, Ed, Brad, Yessi, plus puppy Benton, and our family, travels, friends, neighbors and community. Thanks for reading.


Finding Our Way!

We have been in Cuenca, Ecuador about 10 days now and are still fumbling, naturally, with the language.  Fortunately Ed has enough Spanish, combined with the little English some Ecuadorians have, for us to get by.

After our first day, we began to get the lay of the land, partly with the help of a tour bus and partly with the help of our feet.  Our first and second hotels were near the central plaza, Parque Abdon Calderon, so we circled the plaza with each circle expanding our explorations.  We also spent a great deal of time sitting in the plaza and enjoying the people, sights, and sounds.

Our tour bus

Parque Abdon Calderon with Catedral Nueva in the background

One of our first church visits was Catedral Nueva (the new church, above and behind plaza) dating back to 1880 and located on the west side of Parque Abdon Calderon.   The cathedral's interior has an amazing gold-leaf altar, stained glass windows and pink marble pillars.    We were there during a service so enjoyed the fabulous acoustics when the organ was played.  After the service a blind woman stood in the back of the cathedral singing and chanting.  It sounded like she had a dozen voices.

On the opposite side of the park is another church, Catedral El Sagrario or Catedral Antiqua (Old Cathedral), begun in 1557, with stones from the ruins of the Inca palace of Pumapungo.  According to our guide book the spire of this cathedral inspired an 1804 visit by a Spanish scientist to claim it more famous than the Egyptian pyramids.

The people and their markets of course captivated us.  From the  little lime woman on the curb to the market vendors selling fruits, vegetables and grains. The Incas considered the corn sacred so it was available, in every form, at every market.  But, rice and potatoes are important with every meal so vendor after vendor would have both available in most instances.  One of our tour guides told us,"If you don't have rice and potatoes at dinner, it's only an appetizer."

Woven products, clothing, blankets, bags and jewelry were also available in abundance. Not to mention trinkets, like the balloons you see below.

And, did I forget flowers?  We always found a great abundance and variety of flowers in the markets so we could enjoy fresh flowers in our hotel rooms.

Challenging Trip to Cuenca, Ecuador

After some grueling hours trying to get here,  we're finally here and beginning to adjust.  We were flying standby on Delta and with the storms on the east coast flights were cancelled, rescheduled and full, out of Seattle.  We thought we'd leave on the 3rd and then the 4th and then the 5th, and finally departed on the 6th, but not our scheduled flight.  We got on a later flight than anticipated and that put us in Atlanta too late to catch   our connection to Quito, Ecuador.

 Atlanta was beastly cold with the thermometer at 6 degrees but with wind chill at about -25.  With only one flight to  Quito per day on Delta, we needed to spend the entire day in the airport (too cold to go exploring) to depart at 6:00 p.m.  We did catch that flight but it was by the skin of our teeth.  We were told at the gate that we probably wouldn't make it, but fortunately we did.  Another day of airport sitting would have been difficult.  Once we arrived in Quito at 11:30 p.m. we had further connection problems, as we already anticipated, to catch a flight to Cuenca.   Quito Airport is new and has few ground transportation options (with some unsafe) and no hotels.  Advice obtained earlier from contacts in Cuenca was to sleep in the airport to catch an early morning commuter flight to Cuenca.  That's what we did, but oh what a long, long night.

It was interesting to see how many people were sleeping in the airport.  All night long people were curling up to sleep, more came, they did the same, and on and on all night long.  By 5:00 a.m. the airport was jammed.  For a new airport, it might be under designed, as it already seemed too small for the traffic they were seeing.  And with no way to leave the airport, people were occupying every inch of floor and seating space.

But, the next morning we arrived in Cuenca, checked into a hotel and here we are.  Much more rested; altitude adjustment underway; lay of the land becoming familiar; grocery store, drug store, farmers' market and restaurants located; and plazas and parks scoped out.  We've even found an apartment for the remainder of our stay.

We are about to enjoy our first day's lunch in Cuenca.