Goodbye Cuenca

16 Mar

We have grown fond of Cuenca. We walked all over this small town, sat in its parks and plazas, ate our daily almuerzo (fixed price, three-course lunch for $2.00) at restaurants up and down the street and around the block, gone to classes on Ecuadorian history and culture, visited small villages, artisans and Ingapirca. We have discovered Cuenca. And we have liked what we found.

One of the highlights of our stay has been the view out our floor-to-ceiling windows. We see the city, the surrounding mountains and look down on the Tomebamba river. We are suspended in the landscape. We watch the sky and see the morning clouds clear. If it rains the Tomebamba tumbles over the rocks, frothy and fast. If it was a calm night, the river flows serenely skimming the rocks, transparent and slow. We see four or more kinds of weather everyday, morning mists and cloudy skies clearing late morning to sun and blue skies until mid-afternoon then clouding up again with a soft or hard shower and maybe clearing or, maybe not, as night falls. Most nights it rains.

We carry umbrellas at all times as the showers come fast, burst fast and end fast, leaving you wet or dry depending on…your umbrella. Dana wears his panama hat (a clear sign along with his height and gray hair that he is a gringo) and diligently protects it from the rain. The old cholla ladies with their bright skirts have little plastic bags they pop on their high white hats in case of a shower, both wise and efficient.

People ask us if we are moving here. (As they do in other places we visit.) But here, most inquirers are U.S. expats. Many came to stretch their pension, others moved for better weather. Most are happy. They assimilate into the culture at various depths. Speaking spanish is key. Even if you speak “Tarzan” spanish as one wag called hers. It is the trying that counts with Cuencanos.

Ah Cuencanos. We have met quite a few in our daily travels. Overwhelmingly they are soft-spoken, warm, eager to help a travel-weary soul who speaks only in the present tense and many times with the wrong verb. If they have lived in the US, they ask you where you are from. If they have not, they tell you of a brother or a cousin or, in one case, a mother who lives in Brooklyn.  Ecuadorians who live in the villages outside of town are even slower, kinder and deeply grounded in the land of the mountains. The people have been the high point of our time here.

Please join us next year in Hoi An, Vietnam. We greatly value your company on the road.

Hasta luego.