Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wandering the Hood Around Calle Larga

Street entrance walls to hotel
Sometimes a day is so filled; I need to look at my photos to recall all that occurred. It may be a sign of age or a fulfilled life. I am not going to question it. Regardless, yesterday was another great day in the hood.

Yes, it was Monday, but a few museum signs which we have noticed along our walks advertised they were open on Mondays. Our quest is to visit every museum at least once, but also revisit those we had visited in 2012. Cuenca is not over powered with museums, so it shouldn't be too difficult. There are however, 52 Catholic churches. To visit all of them would be a greater challenge that I am not willing to undertake.

Ron wanted a little coin bag so we stopped at what the local Gringos call the “hippie market” at the corner of our street. It does indeed look like full market of the same jewelry and wristbands one would see at all the fairs and concerts worldwide. How they compete is anyone’s best guess. Nothing appealed to him, so we moved on. 

Walking to Calle Larga is lovely as you pass by wonderful architecture, balconies flourishing with blooming plants pouring over the railings, and exquisite tiles framing the cornices of buildings. I love walking past a building to find the hallway doors open and being privy to some beautiful wall art.

Wooden structures of the church
We have been by El Carmen de la Asuncion Church numerous times, but we have yet the opportunity to go inside for any length of time to appreciate it. The interior is unusual due to the amount of wood used for the interior. The ceiling is wood, adorned with painted borders and finials, not gold or plaster. 

Reaching our destination, Calle Large, we stopped at some of the shops along the way. I have decided not to judge these little stores as tourist magnet souvenir pits without a fair appraisal of their goods. One of our first stops was Ceramica Galaxy at Calle Larga 5-42. It only took several minutes, before my mind had several items bubble wrapped and mentally placed in our luggage. We met Ruth Cajamarca, the shop owner who explained in Spanish only that her husband is the artist for everything in the shop. He creates; she sells. There were at least five wall plates I would have snatched up in the time a flick of clay flew from a potter’s wheel.  They have a rooster pitcher we both loved, but it would be less than chick sized by the time we got it to Hungary. We promised to return. Our minds are still processing.

I popped into one shop where the sign outside advertises Gifts from the Earth. Mostly jewelry, each piece encompasses a piece of various semi-precious stones. Quite a variety of designs was on display, but there was something in the store that set me off. I started sneezing and from that point on my nose was running the rest of the day.

We have not been able to time our visit to La Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús el Párroco. Each time we are in the area, it is closed. Instead, we did stop at another shop directly across the street called Tienda de Artesanias. There were a few things that were interesting, but the prices were a turn-off. Muy rico!

From there we ventured to the Ruinas de Todos Santos, which is combined with Museo Manuel Austin Landívar. Admission to both are free, but the woman attendant had to unlock the gate to the ruins for us. Unlike the ruins at Pumapungo, this is a small area with sections marked off showing the pre-historic and then the colonial periods. Though there is not much to see other than rock walls and a small cave like opening, I did get a sense of the history surrounding it.  

There was no commentary in English, but from what we learned, the displays in Museo Manuel Austin Landívar are all from Mexico. It seems from what I could read in Spanish that this was part of the ethnographic collection of the name for which the museum was named. Basically, it is only two rooms, but there were some interesting things.

Attempting to visit Pumapungo Museo, we found that Mondays they are closed. By this time, we were starving. We found out that there was a Govinda’s restaurant here, so decided to try it. 

On our way there, meandering through the neighborhood, we tried to locate the place where we stayed the last time. As we are walking the streets, we hear someone say, “Hello, excuse me!” in heavily non-Spanish accented English. We stop to allow an older couple to ask us if we knew of a pharmacy in the neighborhood. Explaining we are not residents and have not seen one, we inquired what their problem happened to be. They wanted coca tea for the altitude. They had been here three days, but they were still not feeling up to par. We questioned where they were from; surprised to hear they were from Canada, Ron mentioned that their accent did not sound Canadian. It turns out they were originally from Budapest, Hungary and left in ’56.

Vegetarian lunch at Govinda's
We had been to the Govinda’s in Quito on our last trip. It is much different from Govinda’s in Budapest, which gets the prize in my book. However, for $3 a person, you cannot beat it. 

I am getting a little rain logged. It has rained every day, but one since we arrived. Thankfully, today it had the common courtesy to wait until we arrived home again before the skies opened up.

More Cuenca photos are here: http://ryanandronworld.blogspot.com/2015/01/ecuador-cuenca-january-2015.html

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