Went on the bargain rate ($5) city tour yesterday that takes you all around in a double decker bus. We and everyone else sat on top and roasted in the Ecuadorian sun.
We rolled around the Parque Calderon – ground zero for Cuencan social life, the great old cathedral where La Condamine’s associate lay on his back in the 18th century measuring the earth and the blue domed Inmaculada you an see at the top of this site. It’s the “new cathedral” build started some 300 years after the old cathedral in the mid-15th century, still 130 years old, but a new 130 years old.
We’re a bit slow on taking the city tour – usually it’s the first thing a savvy traveler should do in a new city. Case the joint.
This one was like no other in the level of hazard presented. The electric lines dangling down and across the street clipped the top of the bus and unwary passengers not listening to the broadcast comments by the driver warning of their approach risked garroting. The bus is tall (much taller than the standard city buses) and the phone and electric lines show a distincly whimsical Latin-American touch to wiring houses.
You get a unique view of Cuenca from 15 feet off the ground – especially if you remember to duck when going under low hanging tree limbs and electric cables. Architectural details are at eye level like this.
If you manage to survive being clotheslined, you get to the lovely little Church of Turi, high overlooking Cuenca.
Like most other Catholic churches hereabouts, you can’t actually go inside – say to pray – unless it’s at the right time and a curate is around to make sure you don’t pinch the chalice or the candlesticks.
On the way back the bus came upon a red pickup, double parked on one of the narrow cobblestone streets. There was a wedding nearby but the guy who came out after two or three minutes was no wedding party member, just a jerk. This after considerable tootling of the horn, making noises with the airbrakes by our driver.
One note on Ecuadorian driving: patience is measured in milliseconds and using the horn is pretty much S.O.P. here. So, you can begin to grasp the bus drivers apoplexy at this point. One of the passengers threw water on the guy, who I almost felt sorry for by the time he climbed back inside to move. Note also from the picture that there’s a perfectly good parking space just ahead of the white car, so “Mr. Genius” as I began to think of him didn’t need to take the abuse he got, verbally and in a wetter sense.
The Cuenca panorama on this glorious, sun filled day from the Turi vista point is the first one I’ve taken that actually worked, so I’m quite proud it and Corel Photo Studio 6’s merging software.
New Improved Cuenca Panorama (bigger, anyway)
I know I promised pictures of Cajas (and they are beautiful) and can be found at Flickr Cajas
Selah and peace to all!