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.
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.