Ecuador – Cuenca

Ecuador is a fairly compact South American nation, sandwiched between Colombia to the north and Peru to the south and east. It straddles the equator (hence the name “Ecuador”) and currently has a total of four UNESCO world heritage sites: Quito, Cuenca, the Galapagos Islands, and Sangay National Park. We focused our energies during our first two visits in the beautiful colonial city of Cuenca, Ecuador’s third-largest city. It’s central district, with cobblestone streets, quaint plazas and beautiful churches , always seems to be the hubbub of some kind of fiesta or festival.

Cloud covered Cajas National Park Lamas in Cajas National Park Iglesia San Alfonso on Calle Antonio Borrero One of Cuenca's prettiest buildings, built with red marble and brick. The first floor is a free museum showcasing different exhibits each month Cuencanos dressed as Santa Parque Calderon (getting ready for Christmas festivities) Water fountain in the middle of Park Abdon Calderon The new Cathedral was built in a Neo-Gothic style, and its blue and white domes have become a symbol for the city Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion (founded in 1682) Flowers in Ecuador are pretty and affordable. A dozen roses will set you back $1 or $2 Detail of the twin towers of Santo Domingo Church Dusk view of pretty Parque Calderon Santo Domingo is gorgeous when lit up at night Fresh produce for sale at the old street market This looks like ice cream, but trust us, its not! Large mangoes for sale and cheap! We love the fresh fruits in Ecuador Your choice of fruit drinks made fresh all day A wide variety of freshly butchered meat; outdoor market Large "hornado" for sale at the market. Hornado is a pig that has been roasted whole in a special oven for a deep, rich flavor Ann and Becky shop for fish; outdoor market Fish for sale at the outdoor market Day view of Parque Calderon and the New Cathedral Iglesia El Sagrario ("old cathedral") is an interesting museum with intricate wooden decor and colorful murals. There is also a glass window in the floor showcasing the catacombs Wall mural of Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion Pretty building on Calle Larga Ann and Becky on a bridge crossing the Rio Tomebamba Inflatable toy man can barely see where he is going! Roasted pig atop a car; Pase del Niño Viajero Barney is popular no matter what country he is in! There are definitely more children in this parade than adults; Pase del Niño Viajero An angel astride a lama The Pase del Niño Viajero, considered to be the largest and best Christmas pageant in all of Ecuador (here a stuffed chicken parades the streets on horseback) Girls wearing pretty outfits at the Pase del Niño Viajero We loved the colorful costumes of the Pase del Niño Viajero With skirts aflare, these dancers impressed the crowd There were some adults riding horseback but the majority of the riders were young girls and boys; Pase del Niño Viajero Cute girls sitting in the shade; Pase del Niño Viajero Shepherds leading their sheep at the Pase del Niño Viajero Portrait of a cute girl in the Pase del Niño Viajero The parade of kids on horseback at the Pase del Niño Viajero is endless, going on for hours and hours It was hot during the Pase del Niño Viajero...these riders must have been a bit uncomfortable in their nice outfits A different angle; Pase del Niño Viajero The amigos take a break A proud lady smiles at our photo request We saw hundreds of little girls riding horses down Cuenca's cobble stoned streets during the Pase del Niño Viajero Parade Colorful outfits of Pase del Niño Viajero parade Leading an unwilling sheep through Cuenca's streets The Pase del Nino Viajero on December 24. It’s an all day affair, with a parade that illustrates the journey of Joseph and Mary The Pase del Niño Viajero includes lots of children who participate honoring the traveling infant Jesus Mischievous boys having fun at the Pase del Niño Viajero Colorfully clad ladies wave to the crowd; Pase del Niño Viajero Restless kids sweltering in their outfits; Pase del Niño Viajero Close up of a girl's intricate bead work; Pase del Niño Viajero A mustachioed baby; Pase del Niño Viajero A proud mother shows off her sleeping baby Ornately costumed girl in the Pase del Niño Viajero Yummy ice cream cone doesn't last long in this heat; Pase del Niño Viajero Shephard in the Pase del Nino Viajero Check out all the offerings on this horse; Pase del Niño Viajero Young girl with rosy red cheeks gazes off in the distance; Pase del Niño Viajero Young girls atop their float with offerings of cuy (roasted guinea pig) and cookies Close up of two sisters in the Pase del Niño Viajero This cute little kid is dressed to the nines during the Pase del Niño Viajero This colorful family caught our attention; Pase del Niño Viajero The girls laugh at their goofy male counterparts; Pase del Niño Viajero Male dancers shake it; Pase del Niño Viajero A marching band performs during the Pase del Niño Viajero Roman legions on a float; Pase del Niño Viajero Girls are dressed in their finest atop horses for the Pase del Niño Viajero My, what a big sombrero you have! A young girl in an elaborate costume smiles and poses prettily during the Pase del Niño Viajero A happy little angel waves to the crowd; Pase del Niño Viajero Two indigenous women check out the festivities; Pase del Niño Viajero A weary looking teenager in the Pase del Niño Viajero Close up on the costumes worn by these dancers; Pase del Niño Viajero Young boy strumming his guitar; Pase del Niño Viajero This young girl laughs as she tries to keep her sombrero from falling off; Pase del Niño Viajero Shoe shining service is readily available in Cuenca A happy couple strolls the streets; Pase del Niño Viajero An indigenous woman keeps the sun off her during the Pase del Niño Viajero Traditional costumes and dances on display during the Pase del Niño Viajero A sleepy baby and roasted pig atop a horse pass by Parque Calderon during Pase del Niño Viajero Fruits on display at the Pase del Niño Viajero; Calle Simon Bolivar The street parade takes all day as frequent stops for dancing (such as this performance) occur at Parque Calderon; Pase del Niño Viajero Young girl getting ready to tear open her bag of animal crackers; Pase del Niño Viajero Mustachioed boys in the Christmas parade The streets are packed for the Pase del Niño Viajero La Iglesia de la Merced de los Padres Oblatos Another view of the Rio Tomebamba Cuenca at night Night fireworks set off at Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion Interior of Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion Santo Domingo church is really pretty when lit up at night Evening interior view of Santo Domingo Traffic on our way to the waterfall of Chorro de Girón Orchids growing in bottles for export worldwide A parrot at an orchid village near Gualaceo Hundred of different orchids on display at the Orchid Village Detail of an orchid at the Orchid Village near Gualaceo Detail of a beautiful orchid (orchids are very common in Ecuador with over 3000 unique species and counting) We stopped briefly at this cooperative where textile artisans showcase their pretty handcrafted sweaters and scarves; near Gualaceo Gualaceo's pretty church (beside the outdoor market) A horse tied to the Gualaceo church awaits his owner An indigenous woman hands her child a plantain; Gualaceo market A young girl clutches her bag of animal crackers; Gualaceo market A massive mound of lettuce dwarfs the nearby girl; Gualaceo market Colorful fruit stall; Gualaceo market Thumbs up from the shoe shiners at Gualaceo market Lots of beans for sale; Gualaceo market An elderly indigenous woman at the Gualaceo market This hornado roasted pig is quickly devoured Located about 17 km from Cañar are the historical ruins of Ingapirca (meaning Wall of the Inca). They are the most important Incan ruins in Ecuador Another view of the Ingapirca ruins. The temple of the sun is the most important building, shaped as an elliptical building constructed without mortar around a large rock Lots of handicrafts for sale; Ingapirca Robby kisses a lama in Ingapirca Indigenous women washing their laundry in the river Robby, Shirley and Chelsea at the Incan ruins of Ingapirca Lamas graze the grounds of Incapirca View from under "puente roto", the broken bridge in Cuenca Stairs leading up to the old town; Cuenca Ruins of "todos los santos", a site with Cañari, Incas, and Colonial Spanish constructions Another pretty vista of Cuenca Cuenca as seen from El Turi Mirador Robby checking out Cuenca from El Turi The colonial architecture of Cuenca never disappoints...its like walking in a living museum Another fine architectural stunner in Cuenca Church beside San Francisco Plaza Colonial architecture in Cuenca never disappoints Pretty architecture in colonial Cuenca Pretty blue church dominates the Baños village Early morning at Baños hot springs We checked on horseback riding opportunities at this hacienda but it was a bit too pricey for us The muddy road leading towards the waterfall of Chorro de Girón (we had to get out and walk the rest of the way since our driver was afraid of getting stuck) Shirley and Ann manage to catch a ride up to the base of "El Chorro" A group photo of us on our way to El Chorro Our first view of El Chorro, a 104m high waterfall The El Chorro waterfall was devoid of visitors...lucky for us Bob snaps a picture of the girls; El Chorro The pretty countryside of Giron A hornado pig cooked to perfection Roasted cuy (guinea pig), an Ecuadorian specialty Vendor with a beautiful smile; Feria Libre market Heaps of delicious fresh vegetables at the Feria Libre market Another view of the massive Feria Libre market Fresh fruits and vegetables for sale at the Mercado Feria Libre Ingidenous women at the Feria Libre market Robby and the Becky sisters share a sangria in pretty Cuenca Early morning fog at Baños hot springs...we are the very first guests! Lots of hand made souvenirs for sale Bob falls asleep waiting for everyone to finish their shopping San Francisco Plaza is a neat shopping district to check out Lots of choices for the ano viejo (old year) masks which cost $1 each; San Francisco Plaza Another view of pretty San Francisco plaza Buying face masks (Años Viejos) for New Year's Eve Robby freaks out little kids by pretending to pick his nose; near the flower market at Monastery of El Carmen de Asuncion Becky Gray poses next to a friendly indigenous woman Burning effigies (años viejos) are a common sight right before and during New Years in Ecuador. These effigies are created to represent people and events from the past year Night view of San Francisco Church and plaza Live music and dancing in the streets during New Years New Year's eve revelries A bunch of Años Viejos effigies in a holding pattern to be set on fire Another silly New Year's eve photo The exterior of the new cathedral is made from alabaster and marble; Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción Interior of the Catedral de la Inmaculada Concepción (more commonly known as the new cathedral); Parque Calderon Door detail on San Sebastian church Iglesia San Sebastián Another view of San Sebastián Church on Plaza San Sebastian Cuenca's museum of modern art (this building used to be a treatment center for alcoholics) Interesting doorway Posing in front of the ornately carved wooden doors of La Iglesia de la Merced de los Padres Oblatos A rare sight of Cuenca's empty streets (the day after New Years festivities) Cuenca is normally bustling with traffic and pedestrians Calle Gran Colombia (with La Iglesia de Santo Domingo in the background) Santo Domingo Church Young boy chasing pigeons nearby Santo Domingo Church Picture perfect Cuenca (with twin spires from Santo Domingo Church and blue domes of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception) Pretty buildings in El Barranco district Local children playing in a bucket by Rio Tomebamba An elderly lady reading a newspaper; El Barranco City wall boundary separating the old section from the new. Cuenca's old city has been declared a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO Enjoying a beautiful walk in the city with my best friend Gorgeous vistas abound in Cuenca Cuenca is a city meant for walking...cobblestoned streets and old colonial style buildings on every corner Detail on the roof of Prohibido Centro Cultural bar/musuem Street side vendors with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables for sale Becky G strikes a pose at the open air market, causing the vendor to laugh Ann buying pretty flowers from an indigenous lady Becky G searching for antiques Partying at Café Eucalyptus Nice depiction of Cuenca and the lighting of paper lanterns for Corpus Christi Cathedral San Blas, Cuenca Lots of wool handicrafts for sale at San Francisco Plaza Robby and Rafael at the Museum of Modern Art Ceiling view at the Museum of Modern Art Robby on the receiving end of a Tagua (vegetable ivory) massage at the Casa de la Mujer complex Buying bananas in Gualaceo The Sunday market in Gualaceo is most lively Little boy playing with the sprocket on this bike, keeping himself entertained for hours Indigenous women shopping at Gualaceo market Colorfully clad indigenous women shopping at Gualaceo market Catching a ride home after all day shopping at Gualaceo Market Large plantains for sale; Gualaceo market Love the sombreros at Gualaceo market! Gualaceo's Sunday market is a great shopping opportunity. We found prices here to be a fraction of what they are in Cuenca A snapshot of Monestario de las Conceptas View from the top of Puente Roto Tiles portraying what Cuenca's old escalinata looked like in 1935 The Red Cross is housed in a lovely building in Cuenca (on Calle Antonio Borrero) Staircase detail at Casa de las Palomas Old style street lamp; Salon del Pueblo There is a lot of renovation work going on at Casa de las Palomas, and the end result will be spectacular Beautiful mural at the Casa de las Palomas Wooden carving of a man making a panama hat; Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas Detailed cabinet; Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas South of the old cathedral and housed in a cloistered convent founded in 1599, the Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas is the most important Colonial art museum in Cuenca View of one of Becky's favorite fruit trees. The cherimoya tree at the Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas Wooden figurines on display at the Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas Becky had to look twice on this one. Its a washing machine advertising that "The 1900 washer saves women's lives"; Museo del Monasterio de las Conceptas This panaderia sells religious pastries; adjacent to the Museo del Monasterio de la Concepción Friday night festivities with Kylie, Marco and Chris at Pinto Verde Group photo after salsa lessons at Simon Bolivar Escuela (Martin, Joey, Kylie y Marco, Becky, Leila, Chris, Robby, and Ben) Great spot for an afternoon snooze; Rio Tomebamba Washing laundry in the Rio Tomebamba Chordeleg's main plaza A sunny view of Chordeleg's cathedral Detail of a statue on Chordeleg's Cathedral Indigenous woman crossing the Chordeleg square Shopping opportunities abound in pretty Chordeleg Lots of souvenirs for sale; Chordeleg Checking out her man in Gualaceo Becky loves open air markets Market scene; Gualaceo Dry goods for sale; Gualaceo market Indigenous woman shopping at Gualaceo mercado Vendor; Gualaceo Market Gualaceo's main square Cute girl at Gualaceo market Indigenous woman at Gualaceo market Another view of the busy Sunday market at Gualaceo Cuenca at night foto gallery lightboxby v6.1

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