Two Who Trek see their favorite animals
You’ve previously read in our posts that no ruin is complete without a llama. Now that we’re back from the land of the llama and fully immersed in the day-to-day, it’s time to reflect and share some things we didn’t have time to write about during our last week in Cuenca.
Llamas are members of the Camelidae family along with camels. Scientists tell us that camelids have been around for about 45 million years. About 10,000 years ago, llamas and alpacas were domesticated for food, clothing and transportation. Unlike cattle which are thought to have a common ancestor, llamas are believed to be domesticated from guanacos and alpacas from vicunas. Continue reading
Categories: andean, animals, archeological, blog, camelid, Cuenca, ecuador, inca, llama, mountain, photos, ruins, travel, wool
Tags: annimals, camelid, cuenca, ecuador, guanaco, llama, peru, photos, travel, vicuna
People of the Americas have a long pottery-making tradition, predating the European arrival. The oldest known ceramics were found in communities along the Ecuadorian Pacific coast and were made 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. The time-honored process is still essentially the same. Dig up some clay, mix it with water, form it into objects and fire it in an oven or kiln.
In the studio of Eduardo Vega, today’s ceramic pottery is functional and exquisitely formed. After studying in Europe, Vega returned to Cuenca and developed a unique style, deeply rooted in Ecuadorian history. Continue reading
Categories: andean, art, artisan, artistic, blog, Cuenca, ecuador, local, making, manufacturing, photos, pottery, tallar, travel
Tags: artist, blog, ceramic, cuenca, ecuador, photos, pottery, travel, vega
Two Who Trek let the wool get pulled over their eyes
One day at school Two Who Trek and their teachers were talking with other teachers and students when an idea started to take place. Why not play hockey for a day? Because there are no ice rinks in Cuenca, we all decided to play hookey instead, head to a neighboring town, and take a tour of place where artisans make woolen products by hand. We picked a date and decided to rely on public transportation to get there rather than take taxis.
Riding on the public bus system is an event all its own. Travel light and have lots of change. For less than $1, you can be transported from the center of old town Cuenca to the outlying towns. See vendors boarding the bus, selling everything from chocolate bars at 3 for $1, to an organic panacea of uncertain origin for curing most physical maladies. The vendors give you a sample of their wares as they walk through the bus aisle and give their speech. If you choose not to buy, politely and firmly return the merchandise when they are at the end of the presentation. Continue reading
Categories: art, artistic, blog, bus, Cuenca, displays, ecuador, gualaceo, manufacturing, photos, pottery, tallar, taxi, travel, weaving, wool
Tags: artistic, bus, cuenca, ecuador, gualaceo, loom, photos, pottery, taxi, travel, weaving
To really see an area, one must travel around. Because Two Who Trek are not strangers to travel, we used several methods to explore the city. Here’s a short look at some of our options.
Walking is the best way of getting around Cuenca, especially in the historic center of the city. With a good pair of shoes for support and plenty of time, one can get around rather quickly. Two Who Trek found that during peak times, we could walk through the city center faster than taking a bus or a taxi. Continue reading
Categories: background, bus, Cuenca, ecuador, gualaceo, photos, taxi, transportation, travel
Tags: bus, cuenca, ecuador, photos, taxi, transportation, travel
As part of the Ecuador experience, the program hosts provide apartments for all the participants. We will live in these apartments for the month we are here. If we wish, we can use the cooking facilities to make meals or we may choose to eat at the many restaurants in Cuenca (and restaurant prices are so low here that dining out is a very attractive option).
Most of the program apartments are in the heart of the historic part of Cuenca, in centuries-old buildings that have been refurbished to meet American expectations. Many of these apartments are quite small, and are described as studio apartments – one room with a separate, private bath room. Continue reading
Categories: background, blog, Cuenca, ecuador, food preparation, lodging, photos, travel, Uncategorized
Tags: apartment, cuenca, ecuador, housing, lodging, photos, program, travel
Several important Inca-era ruins are in the Cuenca area. Two Who Trek took a bus trip to see one of these, the Baños del Inca (Inca Baths) at Coyoctor. The Baños del Inca is a smaller but no less historically significant archeological site, compared to others in this part of Ecuador.
The name is a bit misleading. The site was actually created by the Cañari people, who settled in the area over one thousand years ago. In the early 15th century, the Incas conquered the Cañaris and absorbed them and their way of life into the Incan culture. The Incas then modified the Coyoctor site to meet the Inca ritual of water purification. Collectively, the site includes worship of the moon deity of the Cañari and the sun deity of the Inca. Continue reading
Categories: andean, archeological, blog, Cuenca, ecuador, photos, railroad, travel
Tags: archeological, blog, Canaris, Coyoctor, cuenca, ecuador, El Tambo, excavation, excavations, Inca, photos, ruins, travel
Two Who Trek has briefly mentioned the Flower Market in the heart of Cuenca before. But this place is so special, we decided to give more detail and photos of the flower market.
The traditional Flower Market is on Calle Sucre, across from the new Cathedral. The market is in a small open-air plaza in front of the Church of El Carmen, a colonial era church. This square is adorned with the façade of the church and the church is made of carved stone. Continue reading
Categories: background, blog, Cuenca, ecuador, flowers, gualaceo, markets, photos, travel
Tags: cuenca, ecuador, floral arrangements, flower, market, photos, shopping, travel
Two Who Trek likes all forms of transportation, with railroads being a favorite. So when we had an opportunity to ride an Ecuadorian train, we jumped at the chance.
Ecuador has a national railroad system called “Ferrocarriles de Ecuador”. There are ten train routes in Ecuador, primarily from Quito, and running up and down the western coastal area. The longest route is 98 kilometers long (about 60 miles). Two Who Trek had the opportunity to ride the shortest one roundtrip (3.5 kilometers or about 2.2 miles each way) from El Tambo to the pre-Incan ruins at Coyoctor. We will be posting more on the ruins later, but because Joe likes trains, this post is focusing on the rail travel part.
Categories: Cuenca, ecuador, photos, railroad, travel, Uncategorized
Tags: cuenca, ecuador, photos, rail car, railroad, travel
The music of Ecuador is varied. Listen to classic rock, jazz and salsa coming from taxis with open windows and no riders. In this city of parades, marching band music abounds. The local symphony orchestra hosted a recent concert, free of charge, which was wonderful. (Two Who Trek think it is best described as South America’s version of the Boston Pops.) Continue reading
Categories: andean, blog, celebrations, Cuenca, ecuador, festivals, photos, travel
Tags: Andean, cuenca, ecuador, music, musical instruments, photos, travel
UPDATE – 1-23-2013 — Two Who Trek attended a presentation yesterday and found there are many more Christmas-related celebrations. For example, Cuenca holds a Christmas parade that is over 8 hours long. Plus there is the Festival of the Wikis (no, not information sources. In this case it is a native word for tears) that starts three days before and ends three days after Christmas. Daily celebrations occur on the twelve days following Christmas.
Please consider this blog post as being just what Two Who Trek have seen during their stay. It is not meant to be a complete listing of all the Cuenca celebrations. If we provided that, WordPress might run out of server space! Now the original story:
As Two Who Trek wander through the streets of Cuenca today, the city seems a little less festive. That’s because the Christmas lights and displays have been stored for another year. But when we first arrived, we marveled at all the decorations Cuenca had throughout the town. Continue reading
Categories: blog, celebrations, Christmas, Cuenca, displays, ecuador, festivals, local, photos, travel
Tags: blog, Christmas, cuenca, ecuador, festivals, lights, parades, photos, travel