Sunday, April 3: Daytrip to Gualaceo & Chordeleg

On Sunday Daniel and Theresa wanted to take Andy to the big, central market we had visited on Saturday. We decided to do a day trip with Lane so that Dan and Theresa didn’t have to worry about him.
Riding the city bus
Our guide book indicated that there were interesting Sunday markets in Gualaceo (about 36km East) and Chordeleg (a few more km South). So early Sunday morning we headed down to the top of the steps and caught a #10 bus, paid our 25¢ fare and rode to the Terminal Terestrial (bus depot). We were directed to Gate 1.
Gate 1 to buses

To use Gate 1 you first walk through a metal detector. I’m not sure it was even turned on because it never beeped for me – even with a pocketful of coins. After the metal detector, you have to insert 10¢ in a slot to unlock the turnstile. If you don’t have a dime, there is an attendant to make change. Once you’ve paid your 10¢ and gone through the turnstile, you get on your bus. No ticket needed on this run, the driver collects when you get off (60¢ to Gualaceo).
The bus to Gualaceo

Shortly after we boarded the bus and found seats, the bus got underway. The ride was reasonably comfortable and the windows would open so I could get a breath of fresh air or snap a photo when we passed something interesting.
As we drive out of Cuenca we passed a larger statue of a Conquistador. Many towns have large statues at the entrance to the town to honor a historic or political figure. As we drove through the suburbs there were many nice, single-family houses.

Statue of a Conquistidor Single-family homes Modern single-family dwelling

It appears as though this area is popular with expats. In some cases there are even gated communities. Real estate promoters are offereing lots for sale.

A gated community Homes in the gated community Building lots for sale

Sign for Gualaceo
Before long we passed a sign indicating that we were indeed on the road to Gualaceo. The mountainsides were lush and green. It is amazing the steep slopes that they try to farm.
Traditionally-dressed woman

As we drove into town we passed a woman dressed in traditional native costume. They all wear white straw hats of vary shapes and with different forms of ornamentation. The dresses are full with an elaborately embroidered pattern at the bottom.
The Gualaceo bus terminal

Before long we arrived at the bus terminal, paid the driver out 60¢ fare, and disembarked. We looked around for a market but there was nothing near the bus terminal so we looked up the cross streets looking for a crowd of people.
The Gualaceo market building

By following the crowds we soon found the Bualacco market building. It wasn’t as large as any of the market buildings in Cuenca but we went in to look around. It was a typical food market with produce, meat and fish vendors.

Meat vendor Produce vendor Fish monger

Unfortunately, we had seen much larger and interesting food markets in Cuenca on Saturday, so we were more interested in a handicraft market. We walked up the street to see what else Gualaceo had to offer. In the next block we found a shop that makes those traditional fancy skirts. Nancy was interested in how they were sewn and fitted. They had a wide variety of gorgeous pre-embroidered fabrics to choose from. Unfortunately, they were not inexpensive. A skirt cost from $60 to $120 depending on the fabric and amount of embroidery.

Nancy examines a traditional skirt Some of the many fabrics available

Open-air food market
After that we wandered around town a bit more. We found an open air food market but nothing else of interest.
Ferris wheel at Chordeleg

So we hopped on a bus for the short trip to Chordeleg. This was a festive day for them and they even had a small ferris wheel and some kid’s carnival rides.
Chordeleg central square

The main shopping area of Chordeleg is around the main plazza. There are large overhangs so that we were not overly inconvenienced by the rain that arrived shortl after we did. The shops were tourist oriented and many sold trashy souvenirs. However, there were many shops selling very fine jewelery. Gerry even had his shoes shined for 25¢.

Gerry getting his shoes shined
Shoeshine for Gerry
Trinkets for sale here
Trinkets for sale
Hammocks and chairs
Hammocks and chairs

Where we ate lunch in Chordeleg.
We got Dan and Theresa each a hammock here in Chordeleg.
Since it was lunchtime we stopped in at a restaurant and had a sliced, roasted breast of chicken with some brown lentils, rice and a Coke. It was a rather tasty lunch.
The bus depot in Gualaceo

After lunch we hopped on a bus back to Gualaceo where we transferred to a bus back to Cuenca.
Statue of a politician

As we left Gualaceo we passed another of those large statues honoring a historical or political figure. These statues are often located in the center of a round-a-bout (traffic circle).

As we approached Cuenca we again saw the attractive single-family dwellings in the suburbs. If you examine the third photo carefully (click on it to see a larger version) you will see the woman fourth from the left is wearing a white parka with a fur-lined hood and the woman in front of here is in a brown heavy quilted jacket. What’s with these folks? I’m comfortable in a short-sleeved shirt and the other folk are all bundled up. Let me tell you about cold and snow lady!

Sign for Cuenca Single-family houses in the suburbs Ladies in parka and heavy jacket

When we arrived back at the hostel, Dan and Theresa had returned from a long trip to the central market with Andy. They had purchased four relatively small fish at the market so we had fish for supper. Since no one had much filleting experience and we didn’t have a decenly shart knife, the fish wasn’t elegantly prepared but it tasted fine.