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Published: August 13th 2013
Today was a glorious day to walk and walk we did....all day! First we were off to the Pumapungo Archeological Park, a place where first the Canari people and later the Inca developed an absolutely wonderful hilltop setting (hopefully to become the Cuzco of the north) overlooking the entire Cuenca valley, the Tomebamba river and surrounding mountains that now define Cuenca(means bowl in Spanish). The entire hill is crossed with terracing where LLama feed, a beautiful flower and vegetable garden grows and a small lake sits. All of the plants grow here naturally and, combined with an almost permanent excess of water there were a stone irrigation system, warming pools for bathing and (still today) clean drinkable water.
We started out from our place on Gran Columbia and walked down to the steps that reach the Tomebamba. This river runs through the entire valley, East to West and is a major source of water in the city. The river is surrounded by stately old homes, nicely done bed and breakfast hotels and new condominiums. Walking paths, benches and lots of trees and plants make it a pleasant place for a stroll or an energetic walk. Even the graffiti painting is
The park itself starts on top of the hill and one works your way down on a series of switchbacks. A bit daunting and it makes you want to have hooves like the LLAma to hold on. The panorama of the valley is visible from everywhere and one can easily understand why this place was selected. Most of the old buildings and worshiping sites are at the top of the hill. The lower areas are where gardening and animal husbandry existed and still do today. And then you reach the river.
We are both continually fascinated by the plants, native to this area which is a combination of sub tropical and high mountain. The most fascinating part is that many of them, especially the cactus and succulents also exist in the Sonoran desert in Arizona. The difference is that, here, they are often trees where, at home, they are small bushes. Some of the Blue Agave here are over 10 feet high and at least 6 feet across. The cholla are the same and the others always have flowers 3-5 times larger than ours. How they exist in such diverse places is a real mystery that
we hope to sort out at the Sonoran Desert Museum in Tucson when we get back.
At the end of the park we found a small aviary with native birds. With a bit of twisting and turning we were able to get close enough for some nice photos. We only wish we could have gotten this close when we were in the Amazon. We saw the same Parrots and Toucans but not close enough to get the full appreciation of the color. We hope ypu enjoy them as much as we do.
Then we had to climb out of the park. By now the temperature had reach about 80 in the sun, which there was plenty of. Again the climb out was on a 10% grade and when we reached the top, we were hot, out of breath and hungry. We found a place for our favorite lunch of Ceviche and papas fritas with Jugo de Mora(blackberry) and agua.
Then it was on to Parque Calderon in the Centro Historico. It is one of the most beautiful Zocalos in Latin America, better even than Antigua Guatemala. Sitting in the shade and resting allowed mike the time to
take some people photos, get a chocolate gelato and rest from a lot of exercise.
We also had time to find a small florista shop where Mike ordered roses for our anniversary dinner Wednesday Night. You may not believe this but it is true. Over the 49 years we have been together we have tried to keep a tradition of one rose for every year of marriage. All of them are red except one and it is white. Lots of symbolism here. When we began to reach the 30+ years, the cost got a bit much and we switched to smaller roses. Well not this year. 48 red roses and one white rose will cost us a whopping $11. And they will be freshly picked on the day we buy them. Now to see if we can get a vase to bring them to the restaurant. Guess you will just have to wait to see.
Tomorrow we will take it a bit easier, with a little shopping, a little walking and some photo taking. We are finding at our ages that a bit of rest in between exercise is better than our normal high energy trucking on and
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