Day 15: Cuenca Day 3:
Today is our day to take the 3-village bus trip from Cuenca to Gualaceo to Chordeleg to Sigsig. After our morning coffee from what we bought at the supermarket, we walked down the nearby stairs to the Bus #7 bus stop that would take us to the Terminal Terrestre (bus station). For 25 cents each, we shortly arrived at the terminal and looked around for an office that sold tickets to Gualaceo. Apparently, this was one of the trips where you just get on the bus and pay the driver's assistant instead of buying tickets ahead of time. We paid one dollar a piece for the one hour trip to Gualaceo. It took a while to get completely out of Cuenca, but eventually we were winding our way thru the mountains alongside a river. When we reached Gualaceo, we got off and started looking for the market and the main plaza. Originally we headed in the opposite direction, but when Manoli asked a man approaching us, he quickly got us oriented in the right direction and even walked along with us, telling us about the market and the next town, Chordeleg. Apparently, he didn't think
Gualaceo had much to offer, but that we'd like Chordeleg since they make such wonderful jewelry. Gualaceo was a pretty good-sized town and their main plaza was pretty, but the market was pretty much nothing but fruits and vegetables. After a quick capuccino (from an automatic machine) while we watched the traffic in the square, we walked back down to the bus station and quickly found a bus to the next town, Chordeleg. Chordeleg is famous for their jewelry. Each of the towns along the way had a market day where local items are sold, but in this case I wasn't able to coincide our trip with their market days.
The trip to Chordeleg was only 25 cents each and quite short. We climbed up a ways and entered the town of Chordeleg which was basically a flat spot surrounded by hills going up or down with houses and streets doing the same. We got off the bus and headed to the main plaza first. From the moment we entered the town, we passed jewelry store after jewelry store. I'd bet there are at least 50 jewelry stores! Many made and displayed their own designs and a lot of
it was very pretty and inexpensive. I did find my first charm, a silver enameled charm showing an Ecuadorian woman with a bag and a baby. Pretty representative. The plaza in Chordeleg was alos quite picturesque with nice trees and plants, but it was hard to get over the number of jewelry stores. After wandering around and getting tired of looking at jewelry, but found the market, which was again mostly fruits and vegetables. With limited time and having not found much else to see there, we walked back down to the station, found out where to grab the bus to Sigsig and waited. I was under the impression that Sigsign was famous for the panama hats, but we never found any places there that made them. The trip to Sigsig was pretty short, about 30 minutes, and cost 50 cents each. Their bus terminal was the nicest of the three, and the main plaza had a couple of neat statues, but that was about all that was appealing about Sigsig. Well, the arched entry to the town was neat too. Unfotunately, we waited until Sigsig to look for a place to eat lunch. I say unfortunately because apparently the
people of Sigsig seldom eat out and there still isn't much tourism. We wandered up and down several streets looking for a place to eat and ended up settling for one of the little streetside type food places called Dona Ceci. We ordered two tamals, a cheese empanada (which actually had some cheeese in it), a yucca ball, and a Coke. Everything was pretty good, and very cheap at two dollars. Having not found anything else in Sigsig worth seeing, we waled back to the terminal and took the next bus back to Cuenca for $1.25 each. I think the trip was supposed to take longer than it did, but our driver was apparently training for Monte Carlo or something cause he went about as fast as possible with a big bus, passing trucks, busses, and even cars.
We arrived back in Cuenca about 3:30pm and went to check on the direct busses to Quito for the next day. There was one company, Super Taxis Cuenca, that touted a direct bus to Quito for $10, leaving at 7am in the morning. We figured this was our best bet, getting us into Quito by 5pm or so and then Otavalo
by 6:30 or so. Unfortunately, the lady told us she wasn't sure if the 7am bus would be a go or not, as that bus hadn't arrived from Quito when it should have. She recommended we return the next morning around 6:30am to see, and if not, she'd direct us to another company that had a bus at 7:30am. We decided to walk from the terminal to our hostal, doing a little window-shopping along the way. There was alos a small crafts market set up on Sangurima that we looked thru. Before dinner, Manoli wanted to buy some fruit and we needed to get more money from the ATM to pay our hostal bill and have for the trip to Quito and Otavalo. Manoli bought some Chirimoya (sp) and we got some cash from an ATM and started to return to the Coffeetree Cafe for a light dinner. Along the way, we ran into the couple from Latacunga and Banos, strangely enough, and after some chatting, they recommended we try Tutto Freddo up by Parque Calderon. We'd seen the place before, but had written it off as a nice ice cream parlor. Apparently we wrong, as the couple told us
they had pizza, great sandwiches, and the best canneloni they'd ever had, so we decided to check it out. Tutto Freddo does specialize in all sorts of ice cream dishes, but their menu includes pizza, sandwiches, crepes, lasagne, and canneloni. Manoli order a fruit crepe which was quite big and fruity, and I of course had the canneloni which truly was delicious. I think the told with a capuccino was ten dollars.
After dinner, returned to the hostal to pay our bill, set up a taxi to take us to the bus terminal the next morning, and settle in to watch another movie on NetFlix. By the time we got repacked and ready for the early trip, it was about 8pm. I picked another comedy to watch, but after 20 minutes or so I realize I'd already seen it and Manoli was getting sleepy anyways, so it was lights out. Tomorrow the long trip to Quito then Otavalo, on some bus or other.
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