Saturday morning we set out for Paute with our friends, Miguel and Carmen Loyola. I’ve been secretly “pouting” for months because I haven’t seen the gorgeous town of Paute that everyone keeps talking about. And, of course, to see the famous Hosteria Uphzud that somehow has totally slipped off our radar.
Miguel and Carmen are our "nuevos amigos,” as well as their son, Diego Loyola who currently lives in Slovakia. We meet on Facebook and exchanged a few e-mails and on Saturday we met “face to face.” The only request we had was that no English was allowed to be spoken throughout the entire day (and we managed to do just that).
Paute is about a 45-minute drive from Cuenca, but it felt more like 20 minutes. When you have so many beautiful sites and sounds grabbing for your attention, it all passes very quickly. And given the fact that we were chattering away “en espanol” also helped.
First stop was the Corvel Restaurant in Paute (this is a must). They are famous for many dishes including Camaron al Coco, Lomo del Diablo, and Locro Pauteno which is a potato soup that comes with its own wooden spoon as a souvenir. We were all eating healthy, so we ordered the breast of chicken (pollo light), which was presented beautifully (with dressing on the side). Little did we know, it was Carmen’s birthday, so the “helado” was on the house and we sang “Feliz Cumpleaños.”
Chef Patricio Cornel gave us a tour and a little history of the restaurant and the town of Paute. He was very accommodating and made us feel right at home in our private garden—complete with hummingbirds. I tried to catch those little critters on film—twice—but it never quite “materialized.”
With our stomachs full, we set out to see the heights and depths of Paute (Valley of Flowers and Fruits). San Valentin took away quite a few of the “flores” this season, but there was plenty of fruit being harvested. We walked across the suspension bridge over the Rio Paute and I resisted the urge to jump up and down. Actually, it’s a fear of mine—suspension bridges—but my mantra was “don’t look down…don’t look down!” After 169 meters I felt relieved to know I made it to the other side without falling through the cracks or being thrown overboard. But then I realized we had to go back the same way we came. Trust me, I was looking for a canoe at that point!
Our hosts, Miguel and Carmen, were great tour guides and shared a little of the history of the region as we traveled to Gualaceo via Hosteria Uzuhpud. Many of the expat events are held there—especially the Fourth of July celebration which we were unable to attend last year. There was a wedding going on, but the owners let us in to have a look around.look. This is truly an oasis and a great place for a private retreat.
After looking around (and walking off our lunch), we headed to Gualaceo (famous for its shoes). We stopped off at a “panaderia” for one of the local drinks—“Rosero.” It’s a non-alcoholic specialty drink made from ground corn, fruit and sweet spices, served with bread (great for "no carb" diets!). It’s a meal in itself and made me think that it was probably a good idea that we had “pollo light” for dinner.
With our tummies full and our pockets “empty,” we headed back to Cuenca, but not before taking in the beauty of the countryside and enjoying the company of our "nuevos amigos"!
Until next time…hasta luego!
|The Corvel Restaurant - Patio Dining|
|Garden Area at Hosteria Uphzud|
|Patio Area - Hosteria Uphzud|
|Mark, Miguel and Carmen on the Paute Bridge|
|The Paute River|
ADDENDUM: I just got an e-mail from Ed and Cynthia Staton. Next week, there's a bus tour to some of the places we visited on Saturday.
Here's the information (thanks to Ed and Cynthia): Hosteria Uzhupud is pleased to invite you to the “Tour de las Rosas.” Your day will begin with a guided tour of a Rose Farm where you will have the chance to appreciate the best roses in the world, learning how they are grown, processed and exported. After visiting the farm we´ll enjoy a delicious lunch together and have time to relax by the pool and explore the beautiful grounds at the Hosteria before returning to Cuenca by 4PM.
This program will take place next Wednesday March 2, 2011. The meeting point will be at Pizza Hut, located on Remigio Crespo and Federico Proaño at 8.30 AM, and the bus will depart at 9 AM sharp.
The cost per person including transportation and lunch is $ 32.00 (tax included).
Space is limited to 30 guests only. Please make your reservations by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.