After a long and, due to fog and twisting roads, harrowing 9 hour bus ride, we made it from Latacunga to Cuenca. (We’re staying off of long bus rides the rest of this trip!)
A view of “Santa” the bus at the one pee break we got in 9 hours
An appropriately fuzzy view of the bus clock when we walked off the bus in Cuenca. ….9:23 trip
Cuenca is quieter than we expected, but we lucked into coinciding with the 12th Bienal de Cuenca. We’ve now managed to hit two Bienals, one in Cartagena and here in Cuenca. Probably, given the location, the artwork in Cartagena was a bit stronger than in Cuenca . However, here, in Cuenca, the theme “Ir para volver” or “Leaving to Return” inspired some interesting pieces. Plus, it has given us an opportunity to explore neighborhoods and buildings we wouldn’t normally see visiting a city for a few days.
Prior to the Spanish arriving in the 1500s, the Cuenca area was home to Inca and Canari cultures. However, there is very little left of the indigenous cultures. Today, the architecture is an eclectic mix of brick, stone, metal and stucco buildings interconnected by many plazas and, of course, lots of churches. The streets are paved in large cobblestones and some of the blank building walls are painted with street art.
The “New” Cathedral
Bienal headquarters building.
Eclectic brick and stone architecture is prevalent in this historic Unesco World Heritage site.
church door detail
Bill was taken with some of the bizarre mannequins and storefront displays.
Cu Gallery window
Zombie twins and Spider Boy
VOTE, one of dozens of street art.
building end street art, Bill has mask and headdress envy.
we missed this series, but love the graphic.
seems every day there is a protest, a band, a celebration; these students were practicing
Daniel Gustav Cramer’s “Ghosts”: stacked volumes containing 10,000 pages of documented para normal incidents, part of Bienal de Cuenca’s “Leaving to Return”.
interior of Colegio Benigno Malo building with Bienal artists Pedro Neves Marquez’ “Monsanto (The enlightened evolution of the Genome) and Manuela Ribandeneia’s “El Arte de Navegar”.
Exterior of the domes where the exhibits were.
a still from extraordinary video “The Column” by Adrian Paci from Albania…story of a piece of stone from Chinese quarry loaded into container ship and carved into corinthian column by artisans while at sea travelling to its destination; part of Bienal de Cuenca.
a still from the video “The Column”.
detail of the finished column in the hold of the ship.
finished column with light shining through cargo doors above scanning the column in time lapse.
One rainy day (we’ve had very few this trip), we headed up to Cajas National Park 30 km outside of Cuenca. The park is high Andes grasslands dotted with hundreds of lakes at around 12,500 feet. It was cold and windy, but beautiful with llamas roaming wild, numerous waterfalls and colorful flora species. Our guide (good to have a guide because of fog, cold and lost hikers), Julio, brought us to an excellent restaurant that was also a trout farm where we found several dogs, one of them stuffed.
map shows where we are in relation to South America and Ecuador with detail of the Cajas National Park and the lakes.
morning hike around one of the hundreds of lakes….that is an old abandoned brewery to the left.
at our lunch restaurant, Bill hangs out with a creepy stuffed Lab that bit one of the owners but they decided to take him to the taxidermist….
must have been the taxidermist’s first dog, had been used to stuffing seals and otters.
The gate to get into the park had this wonderful proud guard.
up 245 steps above the pass at 12,500 feet we huddled…Bill has on 6 layers under his raincoat. Cold as it was, it never snows.
this color is not enhanced….example of the colorful flora along the trails.
this llama is waiting for his ride back to Cuenca.
llamas are numerous in the park and roam free everywhere including across the highway.
view from top at the pass of the many lakes and waterfalls.
After five days in Cuenca we head tomorrow to Vilcabamba, a five hour drive south of Cuenca and from 7600 feet to a warmer, dryer 4500 feet.