The aroma of lentil soup fills the apartment this afternoon as it drifts toward the open window overlooking the courtyard. A trip to the grocery store refreshed our supplies. We enjoyed a short afternoon walk along the Tomebamba River as we took a roundabout way to the grocer. But as our shelves were nearly bare, by the time we had finished buying provisions for the next few days, we had acquired far too items to conveniently walk home. Fortunately, shoppers can get a taxi at the taxi stand just outside of the store. Seems many people here do not have a car, and taxis are a convenient and inexpensive method (our fare for a 15-minute ride was $1.37) to get home with several bags of groceries. All we need now is to buy some cherries from one of the many street vendors who cart them around in wheel barrows and an avocado. Char is fussy about avocados, and she didn’t like the ones in the store. I’m sure we’ll find just what she wants at the mercado, which is a huge produce and meat market.
Finding things to do: So far, everything is within walking distance
Cuenca was founded in 1557. One of the first projects of the inhabitants of the new city was to build a church. I have noticed that when any city was founded in these parts, building a church is one of the first enterprises undertaken. In any event, this old church, called El Sagrario, is now a concert hall and museum. Last Friday, Char and I attended a concert by the Cuenca symphony orchestra. I found it quite relaxing. I have not attended many live concerts of any kind during my life, but on the occasions that I have, I have always enjoyed them. As it turns out, the University of Cuenca’s symphony orchestra will be performing this Thursday night, and we plan to attend that performance as well. They will be playing selections from Beethoven and Mozart.
Walking around the city
Saturday morning was a bit rainy as we joined a free walking tour of the city. Our guide was bilingual, as you probably could have guessed, and alternated speaking English and Spanish for the tour-goers. We visited churches, of course, and several of the colonial houses still well preserved and at least partly responsible for Cuenca being designated as a World Heritage Site. I have always admired this sort of architecture. Basically, it is a house built in a square around a courtyard. I’m living in one now, but not nearly as grand as those we visited.
The tour ended at the Museo del Sombrero, which I told you about in an earlier post. As it was lunch time, we asked our guide where we might go to eat, saying we would like some authentic Ecuadorian food. She sent us to a local restaurant, Restaurante Cositas, which, she said, served the authentic fare of Cuencanos. That was just what we wanted. Every time I go to a place like this, I always wonder if I will be challenged by what I order.
The menu looked quite good. You can see many of the menu items posted on the wall. Both of the plates we ordered included choclo, which is a large-kernel variety of field corn from the Andes. My plate had two different preparations of choclo. And, of course, we were served potatoes, which are ubiquitous in South America, especially Ecuador. Char’s plate had french fries, mine had two patties. The choclo is a bit unusual and modestly flavorful. Inasmuch as I was served two versions of the corn, I am guessing that it is a staple, like potatoes, and that there are probably a zillion different ways to prepare it. It was a tasty lunch. Our two plates together, and three beers, came to $23. As my plate was quite large, I asked for a box (in Spanish, no less) to take the leftovers home. That was my dinner Saturday night.