Thursday, June 30, 2011

A River Walk And A Bus Ride And More

Some more pictures of the walk we took along the river here in Cuenca. It is the Rio Tomebamba and separates the historical part of the town where we are staying from the newer part of the city. The city has grown a lot in the past twenty years or so, from a population of about 150,000 then to around 500,000 now. And there are about 30,000 ex-pats living here as well. Trip Advisor recently rated it the number one city in the world to retire to, and I can certainly see why. Cosmopolitan and quaint at the same time, a great public transportation system, nice restaurants, friendly people, and really inexpensive. Plus, if Ecuador had a national basketball team I might be able to play center.

A River Runs Through It
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A good part of the historic half of the city is quite a bit above the river so you need to walk down several flights of steps to get to the river walk.

Down, Down We Must Go
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The Mysterious Ones
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I saw a nice little fixer-upper that had a great view and had a room for rent as well.

Just What I Am Looking For
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And, being from New York, I am always a fan of graffiti.

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I will have more scenic pictures of the river for another time but how much can you take all at once?

One afternoon we decided to just hop on a public bus, of which there are many, and ride it to the end of the line. Hey, it only costs a quarter.

On The Bus
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Of course it wasn't like there was anything all that exciting to see at the end of the line, pretty much just the middle of nowhere where the buses turned around.

The End Of The Line
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Oh, There Was A Cow
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And A Field
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And then we got on the bus and headed to the other end of the line.

About To Get Back On The Bus
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After we got to the other end of the line we just stayed on the bus, paid another quarter and headed on back home. Hey, for only seventy-five cents how much more fun can you have. Plus it is a good way to see some out of the way parts of the city. We might do it again on another line on Saturday. We are easily amused.

Yesterday we hired a driver and visited the Parque Nacional Cajas and three small towns I bought myself a fine Panama hat for only $35 and the Mysterious Ones bought some hand-made shawls for, coincidentally, $35 each. They bought them at a different place, though, so I don't think there was any collusion. Plus I was initially quoted a price of $50 for my hat but our guide, Efrain, talked the lady down. You will just have to wait to see a picture of me in my new hat, though. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.

This morning we went to an interesting mercado where they sold just about any food product that you could imagine. Well, not processed food, farm stuff. I am a sucker for crispy pig fat so I couldn't pass up the opportunity to buy some.

A Face Only A Bar Man Could Love
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So I ordered a plate from these lovely lasses.

Lovely Lasses Serving Up The Pig
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And Here Is What Two Bucks Buys
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I thought I would just get some pork skins in a bag to go, but obviously my Spanish isn't very good. What I got was succulent pork skin, onions, pozale (a puffed up corn), some sweet potatoes mixed with lard (I think), and some chopped up tomatoes. I shared it with the Mysterious Ones and after that we didn't need lunch.

I have more pictures of the market and another craft market that we went to, but I will save those for another time. I have lots of pictures.

Tonight I am going to a restaurant that serves authentic Ecuadorean food and, by golly, I am going to have the Guinea pig. It is quite a popular dish here and I understand it tastes very similar to pork. At the craft market there was a lady selling it out of a cart.

Guinea Pig To Go
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They even sell barbecue/rotisserie devices specifically for roasting the Guinea pigs.

Looks Painful
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It is that contraption on the right with the wooden cone shaped things. I guess you just shove those up the Guinea pig's butt and roast away. I will try to get a better picture of the device another day.

And The Guinea Pig Traps
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Okay, so I lied. Those aren't really Guinea pig traps.

Last night we finally got out to see the fireworks display and it was really something. Kind of like what you see in old Mexican movies. The whole display is set up in the middle of the festival and, of course, everyone crowds up close to see it. Then, when it is lit, all hell breaks loose and everyone runs away when the things starts to go off and fireballs begin landing everywhere. Really gets the old heart pumping because, of course, I was one of those crowding up close.

Really Exciting Fireworks
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There is a big thunderstorm going on now so that is why I had the time for a fairly long post. I haven't even gotten to the tour we took yesterday. Lot's of stuff going on here.

Because it is raining and we are all kind of sitting around taking it easy before dinner, the hotel proprietor, Alberto, gave me a small glass of their local "moonshine" and a big bottle of beer to pacify me. Great guy, that Alberto.

Who Cares About The Rain
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I noticed that Roberto had a bottle of Four Roses Small Batch whisky. I mentioned that it was really good and hard to find. It turns out that Roberto is a bit of a collector of whiskies. He had a bottle of Maker's Mark and I said that it was my favorite Bourbon and, as it turns out, it is his favorite as well. Will wonders never cease.

You may have morticed how neatly coiffed I was in that last picture. That is because I got a haircut this afternoon before it started raining. Two bucks and a 25 cent tip. And that included getting my beard and moustache trimmed as well as those embarrassing ear and nose hairs.

My Barber
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That is the barber's daughter with her, but it isn't me in the barber chair.

Okay, enough for now. I don't want to bore you. But believe me, I have a lot more to post about so be sure to check back.


Splunge said...

Ah, the ear and nose hair trim. Truly the mark of a seasoned professional. A lot of "hair stylists" today just won't do it. Luckily my barber Emilio does, and he's just a block away.

Bar Man said...

My barber Hasim does as well and he is right around the corner from me. I will have to sneak by him for a month now because he hates it when I have someone else cut my hair.

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