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Published: July 21st 2019
Snapshots of Cuenca, one the most comfortable spots in South America (aside from the traffic, and assuming you're a tourist and not a Venezuelan refugee, which there are plenty of, many of them flashing their useless Venezuelan currency, which is a pretty effective way to evoke sympathy):
*A weekday evening and Peggy and I stroll toward Parque San Sebastián. The faint melody of 'Barbie Girl' crescendos as we turn the corner to find dozens of locals aerobic dancing, led by instructors atop the church steps. We sit outside at the adjacent Jodoco Belgian Brew to watch.
*Through the showcase window of Cafe Austria on a Sunday evening, a man urinates on the steel shutters of a storefront across the street. He's at it for awhile, his head tilting back in relief, but abruptly zips up and sprints down the sidewalk. Moments later two women run past in pursuit, one shaking a broomstick.
*A sleepless Friday night so I find a quiet and nondescript local dive. The matron looks surprised to see me and pours a generous glass of whiskey. I sit at a low table next to two women, the only customers until a group of other women
enters. Only then do I look up to see the artwork on the walls - women kissing, fatales on motorcycles, and lots of pink hearts. I shrug and read for nearly an hour while they dance to reggaeton, hooting and grinding in a congo line. I try not to stare but give friendly smiles every few minutes.
*A rainy afternoon at Parque de la Madre, and two med students carrying moto helmets approach me while I'm doing pullups and ask to do a video-interview in English about my medical history. Anybody who knows me knows they've struck gold, so all my apuros are known to whatever class the project was for.
*After abandoning our hike in Parque Nacional Cajas due to the incessant rain and chill of the páramo, Peggy and I march along the shoulder of a dangerous mountain highway and flag down the first bus we see. People stare at us in our misery, and we're comforted only by ruffled, lemon-flavored potato chips. Soon other travellers board in the same condition and we nod and laugh to each other in understanding.
There are more photos below.
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