Cuenca, Ecuador

Ok after re-reading a few of my recent travel log entries, I’m sensing my own overwhelming presense of sarcasm and want to avoid giving the impression that I’m not having a good time. Quite on the contrary! I’m thoroughly enjoying the start of this journey, and any “bad times” we’ve had are more interesting and funny than bad… especially a few days later when you can re-tell the stories to other travelers and enjoy a good laugh. After the devil’s nose train ride fiasco we hopped on board another bus ride from the Alausí town down to Cuenca, a beautiful town situated in the Southern Highlands of Ecuador. Its Ecuador’s third largest city I believe and its definitely the cleanest I’ve seen yet. They are really aware of the littering problem that plagues Ecuador and have started programs to keep the streets clean. We are staying a a cool little bar/cafe/hostel called El Cafecito (the little caf?). We shared a dormroom for the weekend with Jimmy, a rather scruffy, but really interesting French Canadian and the fourth bed was occupied by a brit named Emily that arrived with Jimmy but was also solo traveling. She was to leave today, and I’m sure it wasnt quickly enough because of Paul’s smelly feet and snorring (or was it me snorring???).

We didnt do much after a really long day of travel. Everyone including Jimmy and Emily who were also on the train ride earlier today were pretty grouchy and tired.. we drank a few beers and went to bed.

We came to Cuenca to meet Erika, Paul’s romance from a few weeks before at the beach in Monta?ita. She lives with her family in Cuenca’s old town on the corner of Parque San Blas. Erika was unfortunately busy with school that had just started back a week before and was preocuppied much of the time.. so Thursday we hung out with her older sister, Carolina most of the day, until she got out of class. We walked around town to the Cathedral and to some Inca ruins and to the Museo de Banco Central where there is an excellent exhibit on the indiginous TSATSA people of the jungle. The shamen of these people take halloucinogenic drinks and also can shrink heads! There were 3 shrunken heads on exhibit and one shrunken sloth head. Apparently they still do the head shrinking these days but now only of the animals and not of humans. It was quite spooky looking and it almost looked fake. Later we met up with Erika and had lunch with them both. Carolina took us to the fruit market getting lost a bit along the way… she introduced us to some cool native fruits of which i’ve now forgotten the name, one was the fruit of a cactus, mmm tastey. After that we just went back to hang at the Cafecito for a while and later Jimmy came with us over to Carolina’s house to try some homemade caipiriñas *(a liquor drink made of fresh squezed lime, lots of sugar, and local sugarcane liquor called *aguardiente.) She had a guitar laying around so I picked a few tunes to whet my fingers on the fretboard. We walked back later in the rain (aparently it downpours there in the afternoon nearly everyday for about an hour… and we just had bad timing).

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