On Saturday, I made the ~6 hour journey by bus from Riobamba to Cuenca. Besides some slight motion sickness from my attempts to do my Spanish homework as the bus drove quickly among curvy mountain roads, the ride went smoothly. I enjoyed the scenery and a very dramatic action flick dubbed in Spanish. But most importantly, all my stuff and I arrived safely in Cuenca! And we even had a bathroom stop (a luxury in the Ecuadorian bus system)!! Very thankful for that after demasiado jugo y té en la mañana …
I arrived at my homestay and rang the doorbell. A young boy’s voice came on the intercom “¿quien?” When I told him my name, the gate clicked open. I was greeted by a sweet young boy, who gave me a tour of my new home for the week and quickly jumped into conversation. He asked me all sorts of questions, and told me all about Cuenca and Ecuador-- its history and its people. Then suddenly we were on to superheroes and the movie Happy Gilmore. The discussion of Happy Gilmore quickly became a game of charades as he acted out scenes from the movie while I tried to figure out what the heck he was doing. Oooooh….he’s swinging a golf club!
The boy spoke rapidly and jumped from subject to subject in the way that excited children often do. He was clearly a smart kid and excited to host a new guest, but I was having trouble keeping up. The kid was literally bouncing off the walls. It was endearing, but I finally had to ask him to slow down. "Más tranquila por favor." To which he responded by a face-palm and an eye-roll. And then he sarcastically started talking reeeeeaaaalllyyy sloooowly. Awww, kids…got to love them.
While we waited for my host mom to come home, he showed me his Lego cannon. Super cool! I hid behind a pillow and held up a target for him while he launched Legos at me. It was super fun, and it gave me a chance to practice phrases like “mas alto” y “mas largo.” And when the rubber band mechanism eventually broke, I got to play with Legos and help him fix it. :) I wish I had made things that cool with Legos when I was a kid!
When my host mom came home from work, she showed me all around town. Like her son, you could tell how proud she was of her city. And I don’t blame them. Cuenca is a beautiful city full of history. I already liked it far more than any of the other large cities I had been to in Ecuador. So when asked how I liked Cuenca in comparison to Quito, it was easy to respond with “me gusta mucho, me gusta mas que Quito!”
She brought me to a local bakery that had an amazing assortment of pan…an assortment that would rival bakeries in France! Then we went to the market to buy fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs. There was an incredible variety of produce, including things I had never even seen before. And of course, there were guinea pigs for sale. Cuy, as they are known in Spanish because of the sound they make, are a delicacy in Ecuador. Everyone here loves it and I am looking forward to trying it! When in Rome, right?!
After stopping at a restaurant for hot chocolate and tamales, my host mom drove me around historical Cuenca, proudly pointing out all of the sights. As a highly Catholic city, there were countless beautiful churches, so many that I wonder if it can compete with Rome for number of churches per area. If not, it certainly can for number of churches per capita! Christmas decorations are already up and everything closes on Sundays!!
Driving through the center of town, we spotted fireworks and stopped to admire the show. While standing in the beautiful square, watching fireworks, I thought to myself: “Ahhh si, me gusta Cuenca. Me gusta mucho…”