Monday, November 21, 2011

Adios Ecuador, We'll Miss You!

After leaving Tigua we decided to have another down day back in the lovely town of Latacunga before the long bus ride to Cuenca. The ride to Cuenca was beautiful as we made the transition from the central highlands to the southern highlands. The massive green mountains and ice tipped volcanoes kept our eyes solidly fixed out the bus windows during the nine hour journey. Once in Cuenca we found a hostel and quickly called it a night.

Self Portrait or Patagonia Ad? Latacunga, Ecuador

The view of Cotopaxi from the roof in Latacunga never gets old.

Once awake, we had a full day to explore Cuenca. We decided to visit the gorgeous plazas and Modern Art Museum biennial exhibition. Art is seemingly alive and well in Cuenca, partly due to the presence of large universities within the city. The old cobblestone streets and colonial buildings were an interesting contrast to the graffiti and wheatpastes throughout the city. Upon entering the museum we were delighted by the layout of the grounds and quality of work. Artists were represented from all South American countries. Some of our favorites included a continuous 35mm photo of Santiago, Chile that stretched across and around two large rooms, a film of a simple rabbit drawing, a group of abstract encaustic paintings, and two woven "paintings". Walking back from the museum we ran into two friends from Amsterdam and England that we had met a week prior and ended up in a local brewery by days end sharing beers and stories of travel.

Encaustic (melted wax painting)

Museum interior with sculpture

Outdoor garden space with sculpture

35mm installation

Woven yarn "paintings"

Museo de Arte Moderno

Exhibition poster

Plaza de San Sebastian

Cuenca, Ecuador

The next morning we grabbed breakfast at our favorite local spot. On the menu was delicious maduros con queso (grilled plantains with cheese) and tortillas de choclo (grilled corn pancakes with a light cheese filling) before hopping a bus to Vilcabamba via Loja. We ended up in a hostel up in the cloud-forest of Vilcabama where we decided to relax for a few nights. Relaxing was more than easy to do here. The hostel was located atop a bright green mountain surrounded by more booming green mountains, tropical plants/trees, and lively, colorful birds. The hostel also boasted a sprawling pool, scattered hammocks, quiet hideaways, friendly Labradors and endless views. Yeah, life was good.

Our daily sunset spot

Vilcabamba, Ecuador

Beautiful Mags, Beautiful Orchids

New camera case. Handmade in Vilcabamba, Ecuador

This morning we said goodbye to Vilcabamba and headed to the city of Loja where we'll hop a bus to Piura, Peru early tomorrow. It's hard to believe that this is our last night in Ecuador.  As a parting gift to ourselves, we treated our tastebuds to a late afternoon Southern Ecuadorian treat of tamales con queso (cheese tamales), maduros con queso (grilled plantain with cheese), quimbolitos (corn-based cake topped with raisins and flavored with anise and vanilla), and cafe (coffee) just a couple hours ago. We have absolutely loved traveling in this country and will certainly be back in the future. Muchas gracias, Ecuador!

See y'all in Peru


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