The city of Cuenca and goodbye to Ecuador
We arrived in Cuenca mid afternoon and were delighted to find a town bursting at the seams with charm and character.
The hotel manager, a dead ringer for Inspector Perot complete with moustache, greeted and directed us to our own private garage/old stables for the girls.
Unpacked it was time to investigate this Unesco Heritage site.
The town dated back to around 1551 and was bustling as we cruised around with markets selling produce, flowers (apparently a vast array of orchids) and trinkets.
There were the usual beggars many of whom were children mixed in with throngs of locals.
The centre piece was a large cathedral full of colour and in the evening was lit up giving a remarkable backdrop to the centre square where we watched a local brass and woodwind band giving it their all.
For such a historical place it seemed devoid of the many foreign tourists that were prominent in other towns and cities.
We ended up staying an extra night to stock up on gear we thought would be necessary when crossing the border in a couple of days, but what we hadn’t counted on (in a pleasant way) was that we more or less had the place to ourselves on Sunday as everything was shut except for the odd restaurant and tienda.
I attended to a little random fault on Bec’s bike as the throttle had become loose and also cleaned and lubed the chains.
There were local elections going on and people trundled to and fro from the voting stations.
There were warnings that there could be demonstrations should the voting go south but we saw nothing at all to hint at this.
We left for Loja around 10:30 and headed out of town which was just coming to life. It was a mixed ride below and above clouds as we climbed and descended through the mountains.
We both commented that the roads had been maintained by the Columbia as some of the surface kept us on out toes.
Rolling into the town of Loja, it was spread either side of a river which was the colour of caramel and trucking a long at a fair rate from recent rains.
Our accomodation was a hotel on the edge of town and we were greeted by the most enthusiastic owner of this family run business (everyone was involved) who directed us to the secure parking where (after Bec had disappeared with most of the luggage) I stumbled upon an equally enthusiastic brother working his antique printing press printing (obviously) off some accounting sheets for neighbours.
He freely provided me with a vice and more tools to reattach Bec’s mirror (have you noticed how its only her bike going wrong????) and then gave me a fantastic working demonstration of the printers, one from Heidelberg and the other a US contraption.
On entering the hotel I found bec in deep conversation with the owner who informed us of the recent visit of fellow kiwis Bruce and Jenny.
We left for Loja the following day at around 10:30 and headed out of town which was just coming to life. It was a mixed ride below and above clouds as we climbed and descended through the mountains.rough the mountains.ough the mountains.ugh the mountains.gh the mountains.h the mountains. the mountains.the mountains.he mountains.e mountains. mountains.mountains.ountains.untains.ntains.tains.ains.ins.ns.s..map of South America (the following day at we had spent literally weeks trying to purchase one to no avail).
It is one of those memories that will last with us for a very long time.
Now to Peru ...what will we encouter? ...will we hit roadblocks, barricades and angry locals???