Cuenca Day 2, a lovely city closed for Carnaval

Silence greeted us as we began to rouse from sleep this morning. Blessed silence. We lay in bed, just relaxing and enjoying. And then the phone rang. The kitchen staff wanted to know if we’d be coming in for breakfast, which was ending at 10:00. it was already 09:45. We got our butts out of bed.

In the dining room were 2 Canadian women in their 60’s that Matt had been chatting with last night while I sorted our accommodations. At first we sat at another table, but ended up getting so talkative with them that we joined their table. They’d been in Cuenca a couple of days already, so had a lot of good advice for us.

We decided to take their advice and walk along the river to the ruins. It was a beautiful walk, and many families were out enjoying the morning of their last vacation day. As was the case last night, all shops were closed. The churches were busy and that’s about it.

Here is what the empty streets looked like, all of them:

However, there was so much beauty in the building design here. We passed an elementary school that looked like this!

Yes, that’s really a school. Not that they all looked like this, but Cuenca was indeed a lovely city, even if everything was closed.

The walk along the river was lovely and peaceful, and not long after we passed the Puenta Rota, a broken bridge beside the river, we came to a point where some ruins sat above us. These ruins were very small, and had signs describing the pieces in them, but were overall not spectacular. Here is the bridge.

It seems I didn’t take any pictures of those first ruins, Los Ruinos de Todos Santos, but after looking at those, we continued up the hill and found an interesting museum, El Museo del Banco Central ‘Pumopungo,’ which had a fascinating exhibit about the different cultures and traditions around Ecuador.

Behind the museum were some far more interesting ruins, believed to be part of the old Incan city of Tomebamba. Here the ruins were basically stone walls, and a tunnel under the cliff, but beneath them lies a garden with various agricultural examples, descriptions of Incan farming techniques, medicinal herbs, and a large bird house with descriptions of how animals play a role in man’s relationship with nature. I found these gardens very beautiful and a nice peaceful place to relax.

As we left the gardens and returned back up the river, heavy clouds began to appear. Luckily, we were also ready for lunch. We were tired of eating the same Ecuadorian food, so we went into the only other open place, an ice cream and snack bar, where Matt had a surprisingly excellent pizza and I had a delicious fresh sandwich.

After lunch, we decided to run back to our hotel, drop off stuff, sort out postcards, stuff like that. We ran into Udo, an Austrian man from Berlin (yes, I know… He’s lived there 16 years… I know the difference between Germany and Austria on a map), and invited him to join us for drinks at an expat bar, Cafe Inca, one of again the few places open. He sold his business recently and is on a 6 month world trip.

Afternoon became evening, and we had dinner there. I had a delicious burger along with my 3 caipirinhas. Then we walked back to the hostel. Udo took this picture of us in front of the church nearest our hostel.

It had been raining and raining, all afternoon and evening, so Matt did a little research to see if he really really wanted to go to Ingapirca, the main Incan ruins in Ecuador. Factoring in all the bus time for no more than 2 hours of looking, and the rain, we decided we’d had enough of the Andes and are heading to the coast tomorrow.

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Location:Tarqui,Cuenca Canton,Ecuador