I thought I would sum up my stay (less than a week go) here in Cuenca with all the things that are Chevere here and all the things that I have done that are Chevere. I am sure you guessed that this word is not English but it literally means Cool and it is great word that I have learned since my arrival.
#1: Fiesta de Cuenca
On the 3rd November Cuenca celebrated its 450 years of Independence. The Party actually started 2 days before and it included music and dancing in the street, theater and comedy shows and lots of handcraft markets selling their tempting wares. My fellow students and friends starting with the festivities on the Friday night by watching a Cross Country Cycle Race. We positioned ourselves at the most dangerous part of the course – where the cyclists have to descend down the grand stairs – roughly 88 steps to what I think is just less than a 90 degree angle and they all just flew down. Luckily there were no injuries.
On the Saturday we I went along to the Military parade – it was rather interesting and I think it was the first time that I have seen so much Military on show in one place. I was thankful to be classed as tall in Ecuador and none of us “Gringos” had the need to push to the front to see what was going on. The rest of the day I looked around the craft markets and finished off my dancing at the street party to some cool Latin American music.
Ooops almost forgot to mention my invitation to dance with the Luna Bellas. Both Leila and I declined and the photo should tell you why!!
#2 Gaupo Raefel Correa
As part of the festival we were lucky to see the president of Ecuador. Rafeal Correa is known by most locals as the El Presidente Guapo (Handsome President). It was a bit tricky getting a photo but it was interesting to see how well he is received by the people of Ecuador – but then he did win the election by 80%
#3 The Markets
Whether it is fruit, meat or clothes these are certainly a treat to visit. Amazing colours and people make each visit a treat. I am not quite used to the bargaining techniques but they say you should be able to get at least 20% off the asking price…we try for 50%
#4 Learning to Salsa
Well it is a must here in South America being able to dance – I currently attend one dance class a week in Cuenca and it is quite fun. Many a night afterward I can still hear the instructor´s voice back forward, left, right, turn…of course it is all in Spanish. I can remember most steps but there is still no comparison to the locals who are amazing to watch.
#5 Traditional Food and Cooking
Yes the guidebooks are correct in saying that there is a risk in eating the local food but to very much a limited extent – sure I would not eat the food left open in the market but I have been lucky enough to be able to try most of the traditional dishes as well as learn how to cook some of them. In general most days we eat our main meal at lunch time – soup, meat dish and dessert. I certainly feel like there is certainly not a shortage of food!! Maize and Rice are in abundance – which can be a bit boring every day…
#6 Panama Hats
Did you know that Panama hats originated from Ecuador…it was therefore necessary for me to get a Chevere photo wearing one of these traditional hats …sadly they would not let me try the ones for over $100.
#7 Go Natural
It never stops to amaze me how the local people use everything in it´s natural form from fresh fruit juices (very fresh if you don´t look at how much sugar is included). And just the other day I watched the lady of my family make shampoo straight from the Aloe Vera plant – very impressive.
#8 New Friends
Don´t think this needs any explanation, but as usual I have meet some fantastic and interesting people which I hope to bump into again upon my travels.