Monday, March 14, 2011

FRIENDS VISIT: begetting a flurry of activity to the north, south, east, and west and in the center of Cuenca

We had a great week with Rochester, MN, friends Joe and Sharon. We covered the Cuencan countryside: north, south, east and west. To the north, Joe/Sharon went to the CaƱar market and to Ingapirca. On the way to pick them up after the day's tour, Julie got blasted with a water balloon from a passing pick-up full of kids in the back end. Harold stood by and watched (was he laughing?).
Ingapirca always amazes visitors
To the south, we traveled to the indigenous community of Saraguro for two days. We went for two hikes, saw unbelievable vistas, were honored to be able to participate in an ancient cleansing ceremony, ate mucho, listened to an indigenous band, learned to dance Saraguro-style, watched a parade commemorating 189 years of non-political oppression, saw a fabulous indigenous weaver, and had a great time. Besides Joe and Sharon, our friends Deborah and Gil went with us.
our great guide and his daughter dressed up for the parade       
We lucked out and saw a parade of Saraguranos celebrating 189 years of non-political oppression
We went on a couple of dramatic hikes
We were also fortunate enough to be allowed to participate in a cleansing ceremony.
We even tried some of the local brew (and none of us got sick :-))   
We visited the shop of a famous weaver (note the poncho)
We listened to indigenous, local musicians who taught us to dance -- Saraguro style.
and, of course -- we ate

To the west, we spent some time at Cajas National Park, enjoying its splendor in a hike and traveling to the continental divide.
Sharon on our hike around a lake in Cajas

To the east, we traveled to Paute, Gualaceo, Chordeleg, Bulcay, and San Bartholome. Here, we again saw spectacular scenery, learned about the silversmithing in Chordeleg, leather working in Gualaceo, ikaat weaving at the home of Don Jose in Paute and orchid growing in Bulcay. We also visited guitar maker Uyaguari in San Bartholome and visited a home where we had tea and cookies and learned about home life in this area. We also attended a local market in Gualaceo and learned more about the foods native to this area (or if not native, at least prominent). Amidst all these activities we had a peaceful lunch on the Santa Barbara River where panning gold was a past activity. No gold found! Damn!
Sharon and Deborah enjoying a home visit in San Bartholome.
We also spent time in Cuenca, viewing some of the Carnaval events, eating at Tiestos (can’t miss that restaurant!), several other restaurants, visiting shops, going to the Pumapungo museum and the Homero Ortega Panama Hat Factory, and lastly, Joe went fly fishing in the Tomebamba River (caught two small trout even though a local woman came up and said that no fish could be found in the river).
Carnaval concert -- best part:  we didn't get water soaked
Joe fly fishing in the Tomebamba
A good time was had by all.
Toasting to a great trip at Uzhoupud, a beautiful hacienda in Paute


  1. Joe finds fish where no man has before?! I'm no Christianity buff, but I'm pretty sure performing miracles with fish is a divine act in the Christian church. What better credential for a wedding officiant!?

    Sounds like a good time. Enjoy your last few weeks.


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