Just a few pictures taken along the way:
Up and at 'em this morning, I went down to have my coffee and bananas on the balcony while Mike did his usual morning exercise routine. I got to enjoy watching the malecon police while they stood at attention and received their instructions and duties for the day. A blissful way to start the morning!
First thing we wanted to do was go try and get train tickets for our train ride through the Devil's Nose, Diablo, which will be next Saturday afternoon in Alausi, north of Cuenca. We were very successful and walked away with our purchased tickets in hand. I'll write more about it after we actually take the 2 hour ride next week.
So it was time to check out and go by cab back to the bus terminal. Walked right in and bought our tickets for $8/each for the 4 hour trip. The bus was a bit late getting in to the station but within minutes of pulling in our baggage was stored away and we were off to climb from sea level to 8,200' up to Cuenca! Very excited!!
We were enjoying all of the scenery on our way out of Guayaquil because this was all new scenery when about 45 minutes into the trip the bus pulls over and we begin the process of wondering what is going on. No one got on and no one got off here but the bus just sat. Slowly but surely people began to get off. Mostly the guys because they were taking a pee break along the side of the highway. LOL
Also, I forgot to mention that where the bus pulled over was right by a city dump. Yeah, what are the chances of that? The flies were horrendous!! But as we were standing outside waiting, all of a sudden we noticed that there was a tornado happening inside the dump!! Garbage started to swirl around and around and up and up!! We've never seen anything like it. It just went on and on and the garbage kept getting bigger and bigger and higher and higher in the air. When it finished all that garbage came falling down on us and the highway. It was the most amazing thing to watch and, of course, smell! LOL Only us right?
Mike took video too and it's just friggin' awesome!! You've got to watch! Just might put these on YouTube. https://www.sugarsync.com/pf/D646513_67028128_6104768
The rest of the trip was uneventful and beautiful! So we just sat back and took pictures and watched as the scenery kept changing. We went through the Cajas National Rain Forest, which was beautifully lush, to a very dry area with almost no vegetation, to above the clouds, to above the tree line, to the summit and it being 10C (50F) outside!!
We arrived in Cuenca about 4 PM and I was quite amazed at how modern the housing in the suburbs were. Very cosmopolitan! Lots of beautiful flowers and colorful homes everywhere. A very good feel.
Caught a cab and arrived at our Hostal Macondo in Old Town within 10 minutes from the station. The drive in began revealing why I know expats fall in love with this city. It's truly beautiful and full of character and charm, old historical colonial construction and new modern to compliment.
An easy checkin to our room overlooking the courtyard gardens. What can I say, I'm simply charmed!! Everything I was hoping it would be. This time the pictures didn't do justice to its surroundings and facilities. We're happy campers since we'll be here for a week.
After unpacking our warm clothes (summer stayed in the suitcases) slowly and trying to let the initial light headedness from altitude adjustment pass, we made our way into the heart of Old Town for dinner. Since this is Sunday, most shops and restaurants are closed but on the City Park Square (Parque Calderon) things were pretty happening. We quickly found the recommended restaurant, Raymi Pamba.
This place is certainly a feast for the Bohemian and artist juices in us!! Funky light fixtures and decorations. Something we'd most certainly do!! We shared asparagus soup and chicken crepes. With hot tea and a hot chocolate for Mike, we lingered and let ourselves unwind and relax relishing in the new energy of this spectacular city.
Right outside the window we sat by while eating, we watched as street vendors laid out their handcrafted goods for sale. We watched the haglers and the families enjoying the evening before going back to the start of the week. When we left, I wanted to look at some hair weaving pieces that I had been eyeing. Now that my hair is longer than it's been since high school, I wanted a new clip for keeping it out of my face. Success!! I found one that's perfect and am already loving it!
We're now back at "our place" and Mike is listening to his podcasts in the room while I'm out on the patio writing the blog. Even though it's quite cool, with my Old Navy zip up sweatshirt, I'm quite comfortable. And, it's begun to softly rain. The sound is actually quite comforting and soothing.
So for now, I'm going to sign off, as we have a good day planned tomorrow starting with meeting a long time fb friend, Sheila Felker, in the park and she'll be showing us around the city to get us acclimated to all the wondrousness' that will unfold. Can't wait!!
And, this journey just keeps moving forward with new adventures....