Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Viva Cuenca, Pumapungo and Amigos!

In Cuenca, there’s so much to see and do that—quite frankly—you can become overwhelmed, so we try to do something new every other day and visit a museum once a month.

Last week we started out at Parque Paraiso (Paradise Park) and were transported into another world. It’s Cuenca’s largest and most beautiful park. There are walking trails, a lake with paddle boats, a river running through it, playgrounds, places to picnic, a running track, soccer field and statues. You could easily spend a day there and not see everything!

Our favorite part was the walking bridge through the “forest.” It reminded us of Tom Sawyer’s Island in Disneyland. We went on the trail several times—taking a different entrance and exit each time. We were like two little kids discovering the park for the first time!

We worked up quite an appetite and stopped to have a frozen yogurt for 15 “centavos” at one of the “tiendas” and then off to the Pumapungo Museum.

Like many of the museums in Cuenca—this one is free. My favorite part was the shrunken heads! I heard about them before, but there’s nothing like seeing the real thing. Sorry, no pictures (cameras are not allowed in the museum), so I guess you’ll have to go see for yourself. I’m still trying to figure out why they had to sew their mouths shut!
The museum has two floors, the underground, and the lobby where there is an exhibit of contemporary silver art and jewelry. I so wanted to take some of the pieces home with me, but I’m not all that excited about spending the rest of my days in a Latin American prison, so I walked on by!

We briefly strolled through the Pumapungo Archaelogical Park, but soon realized we would need an entire day to explore this fascinating place in its entirety. It helps to know a little bit about Ecuador’s rich history to appreciate its present glory – “The Emerald of South America.”

From Pumapungo, Mark and I walked to El Centro and Parque Calderon to have an ice cream at Tutto Freddo and watch the festivities starting to “percolate” for the Independence Day Celebration. On November 3rd, Cuenca will be celebrating 190 years of independence from Spain.

Last week, we had a chance to enjoy a little of our own celebration with friends: Kathy, Mick, Nick (their adorable poodle), Mike and Pat. Kathy is an amazing cook and combined with southern hospitality, we had a great time savoring a great meal. Mocha gained a new friend—Nick—and learned how to share toys. Being an only “child,” Mocha needs to be with other “kids,” so we’re encouraging more play dates for our boys!

On Sunday, we took in more of the “Independence Day” celebration at La Esquina de las Artes with traditional dancing and food tasting. I bought a huge chunk of Guayaquil dark chocolate from one of the vendors and it’s safe to say that it won’t be making it to California as a Christmas gift!

We feel so blessed to call Cuenca home. We celebrated festivities with our Ecuadorian friends on Saturday and look forward to many more celebrations this week as well. Viva Cuenca!

Until next time…hasta luego!

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