Sunday, March 27: in Cuenca

Road down to new Cuenca

Road down to new Cuenca


Sunday is a quiet day in Cuenca so we went for a long, 3-hour walk in the morning. We headed East from our hostel rather than the usual North or West. Before long the road split with one branch going down into the new part of Cuenca.

Roundabout in new Cuenca

Roundabout in new Cuenca


We walked a little farther East in old Cuenca before we turned down the hill and crossed the river into new Cuenca at this roundabout.

Yes, KFC is here
“Yes, KFC is here”
Courthouse
The courthouse for the province of Azuay
A single family dwelling The new area of Cuenca has some single family dwellings.

Eventually we came to a broad street with a wide boulevard, Avenue Fray Vicente Solano. There were large, impressive homes and several statues on the boulevard.

Large family home
Large family home
Another impressive home
Another impressive home
Statue of Benigno Malo
Statue of Benigno Malo

Benigno Malo was a Cuencan doctor and philanthropist who founded the Colegio in 1864. It is housed in a majestic building in the French colonial style. The schools’ students are known for their rebellious character and leftist ideology.
Collegio Benigo Malo

As we walked down the Avenue Fray Vicente Solano, we saw a horse-drawn carriage taking a family for a Sunday afternoon ride. As we approached the river we saw a large group of people, mainly young people, walking along the road that parallels the river. We didn’t see any signs or placards that would be typical of a political protect. When we asked one of the guards directing traffic, we found out that the city blocks off this street every Sunday and people come out for a walk – how novel! When we crossed the river and were walking up the steep incline we met this group of three natives coming down the ramp.

Horse-drawn carriage Walkers on a Sunday afternoon Native family walking down to the river



When we strolled into the market area we found that some shops were open to provide fresh bread and produce. However, most shops were closed and the streets were nearly deserted. This nicely restored colonial-style building caught my eye.

One of a few shops open on Sunday Deserted streets on Sunday Lovely restoration



The ornate facades of the many churches in the central area of the old town were a stark contrash to the old native lady begging on the street behind the new Cathedral.

The rear of the new cathedral
Rear view of the New Cathedral
Old native woman Iglesia de San Francisco
Iglesia de San Francisco



The first two of the photos below show what the interior courtyard of a fully restored colonial building might look like. The last photo is of the new museum that celebrates the cultural diversity of Ecuador. Traditionally Ecuador has been a stratified society with the conquering Spanish as the dominant elite and the natives on the bottom. In recent years the natives have begun to demand their rights and there have been attempts to define Ecuador as a diverse, plural nation.

Entrance to interior courtyard Interior glass-covered courtyard Museum of Cultural Diversity



Ze Restaurant
This is Ze, the restaurant that has Gringo night every Friday night. It is a great place to meet ex-pats, network and find out useful information.


In the afternoon we encountered a Salsa dance competition going on in front of a local school. There were three main salsa groups represented. Each group had its main dancer, supporting dancers, drummers and loyal supporters.

Preparing for the competition
One group prepares for the competition
A rival salsa group
A rival salsa group
The three main dancers show their stuff
The three main dancers.

After a while we walked down a different set of steps to the river, This set was decorated with interesting murals. We walked back towards our hostel until we came to the INCA Lounge & Bistro. The INCA is owned by Mike, an American and every Sunday afternoon the Gringos congregate here for more networking. We had a late lunch which was quite good. The photo is of the lower level but much of the networking goes on on the upper floor.

Murals beside the steps
Murals beside the steps
The INCA Lounge and Bistro

The INCA Lounge and Bistro
The lower floor of the INCA