A Travellerspoint blog

January 30

National Museum

Well, we made it back to the National Museum this afternoon. It turns out it was open on Saturday when we were there, we were trying to get into the wrong building!! Duh! However, it's just as well we didn't do the museum and the archeological site and the botanical garden all in one day. It would be too much.
The museum was a little disappointing. The first gallery we went thru was so dark it was difficult to see the artifacts. Maybe they are trying to protect them, but some motion sensor lights that are just on when someone is looking at them would be great. It was hard to make out the patterns on the pottery, etc. Very strange - some excellent stuff just could not see it very well. This museum also had some galleries of modern art of various types. It pretty much left us cold - very strange video stuff and of course any commentary was in Spanish, but I had the feeling that even if I understood the language, I would not have understood the art! The museum did have any excellent gallery on the indigenous native tribes and how they lived. Some parts of that even had English translations. As we were walking home, we came a slightly different way at the bottom of our hill. There is a little corn field there - right smack in the city - and an old shack house. The little old man who was outside his house seemed quite happy to have his picture taken. I thought it was quite a contrast - here we Gringo tourists were returning to our modern architect built house and this little old man was still living the way his people have lived for centuries!DSC02297.jpgDSC02298.jpg

Posted by katdill 17:13 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

January 29

Countryside tour

Today we had a great tour with Efrain from MIO Tours. He picked us up and drove us out of Cuenca. First we went to Cojitambo, where we drove part of the way up the mountain and then walked up to the Inca ruins at the top. This mountain sticks up out the surrounding countryside so there are amazing views in every direction. Hard work getting up there but well worth it. Then we went on to Gualaceo to visit the only family still practicing traditional weaving and dyeing in the area. They showed us the dyes they use, the backstrap loom, and how the fringes are tied. We went for lunch to the Corvel Restaurant in Paute. They had won some Rainforest Alliance Award for producing most of the food they serve on their own land. They even grow their own coffee beans! It was a great meal and not expensive. After lunch we had a short stop in Chordeleg, the silver jewelry centre, and then own to Sigsig. Sigsig is the original home of the Panama hat. We visited a women's hat making cooperative that was organized with the help of the Canadian government. Apparently they were making very little money on the hats they were making before the cooperative was started and they were encouraged to charge more for their hats.
Efrain was a great guide. He has very good English, so we could ask him all sorts of questions about Ecuador we have been wondering about but didn't really have anyone to ask.
The valleys we traveled thru were so beautiful. They are a couple of degrees warmer than Cuenca, so they grow lots of flowers to sell, and we had sunshine most of the day, so it was lovely.

Posted by katdill 18:04 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

January 28

Botanical Garden

Today we tried to go to the National Museum which has Inca ruins and a botanical garden associated with it. The guide book said it was open until 1:00 on Saturday morning, but when we arrived it was closed. However, we still could tour the ruins and the garden, which also had an aviary with it. It took a couple of hours to just do that so it's probably just as well we'll have to do the museum another day. We had a good time at the aviary, seeing the toucans, macaws, and various parrots up close. We had a very nice lunch in a restaurant (El Maiz) which was a small converted house and courtyard. We then proceed to walk home, stopping at an ATM machine in a mall (which looked like an office building from the outside), bought some groceries at the SuperMaxi, and then some vegetables at the 27th of February market. All kinds of things here have dates for names. I found our from our Spanish teacher that the 6th of December (my birthday) is the day they celebrate the founding of Quito. We finally arrived at the bottom of our hill to climb the steps. Don had done this a couple of times while I was sick, but today was my first time. I thought I was getting in shape, but steps like this after a couple of blocks of very steep street really take it out of you. Today's photos are of a very strange tree in the Botanical gardens, beautiful, but weird and a view of the steps up to the house, from the bottom. You can see the gate archway at the top.

Posted by katdill 15:46 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

January 27


We caught two different city buses (at .25 each) to go out to a small town on the outskirts of the city. Banos is the place where the hot springs are - not to be confused with the other Banos in Ecuador, which is right by a volcano. We climbed up the very steep streets to the cathedral at the top and then wandered our way down, looking over the town. On our way into town, we saw the fresh goat milk delivery system again. We've seen this three times now, in different places, but have not been able to get a photo because we are always whizzing by in a vehicle. The goat owner brings their 5 or 6 goats down the street, tied together so they can't escape. They call out announcing they have fresh goat's milk. If you want some they milk the goat right there and then. You can't beat that for freshness!
We went to the Hosteria Duran for lunch, because that was where we were going to swim in the hot springs. It was a pretty ritzy lunch for us, fancy dining room, etc. Then we went and spent a very relaxing time in the hot springs pool before catching the bus back to town. Actually, it's hard to tell where Cuenca ends and Banos starts. There doesn't seem to be any space or demarcation between them. Oh well, I guess the locals know.
Here is a little video Don made out the dining room window in the hotel, complete with hotel music. Just to let you see the view and what a lovely little rural town Banos is.

Posted by katdill 18:04 Archived in Ecuador Comments (2)

January 26


Today we visited some beautiful artisan shops, climbed up the stone stairs to get to down(?)town, had lunch in a little hole in the wall restaurant, visited a Panama hat factory (they should actually be called Ecuador hats), visited the market to buy some more vegies and fruit to take home with us. Apparently the government lets anyone who owns a home/building, open a store of whatever kind they like on the ground floor, without any penalty. So what you see downtown, is mostly tiny little shops jammed into what would be a entrance hall for a building with no shop. The restaurant we had lunch in had more space, but it was broken up into different rooms, very much a home cooking experience! Good food and very cheap. Don had a bowl of shrimp and potato soup and a vegie risotto. I had a mushroom omelet and the risotto. Plus juice and a small dish of watermelon for dessert. The combined cost for this huge lunch? less than $5.00.
At the market Don asks, while pointing at a fruit or vegetable, "How much do I get for .50?" So 2 mangoes for .50, a head of broccoli and one cauliflower for .90, 16 small bananas for 1.00, etc. We don't buy very much at a time because we have to carry it all home on our backs. After we get off the bus, we have about a kilometre walk which is mostly uphill.
Yes, that is a fruit Don is eating. It is a grenadilla and it is delicious - it just looks like brains!
Don bought some little tiny pink potatoes today and so I tried to cook some for him for supper. Well, I cooked them about 10 minutes, they still were raw, so we nuked them for another 7 minutes and then they were cooked! He said they didn't taste like potatoes, more like Jerusalem artichokes! So maybe he'll try a different kind next time.

Posted by katdill 17:00 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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