After school on Friday, like most days, I wandered around the "Old City" of Cuenca. The colonial achitecture really makes you feel connected with history and makes you wonder what life was like for the people who built the place and lived here at the time. Sure, there a places like New Orleans that are similarly constructed but here it not spoiled with neon and crowds of rowdy people. The colonial district probably covers about 2 square miles of plateau surrounded by river gorges and mountains. To say it is scenic would be an understatement.
I read on the web that some of the few Americans living here meet on Fridays at little restaurant called Zoe´s. I found my way there, went inside and, seeing that the restaurant was empty, asked the hostess if I was in the right place (in Spanish of course -- few of the locals here speak any intelligible English). She pointed up a flight of stairs which, I found out, lead to the bar. There were about 15 Americans there drinking and talking among themselves but took little notice of me. It seemed that the only way to meet any one would be to sit at the bar and have a drink which, anymore, is not my "cup of tea" so I left. Maybe this Friday I´ll go back and order a Coke. I have to mention that the interior of the place was, if I remember correctly, entirely polished wood. There was a skylight and decorative plants set in every possible location on a clean, polished, tile floor -- very soothing. Nice restaurants etc. like this are typical here. At El Jardin, the fanciest place I have found so far, I went inside to look at the menu. The most expensive full course dinners were about 7 US dollars!
After Zoe´s, I went to the central plaza which has the "new cathedral" in the SE corner and the "old cathedral" in the NE corner. By "new" I mean it was built in the mid 1800s and by "old" I mean it was built toward the end of the dark ages, around 1600. One of my teachers told me that you could go into the new cathedral for free so I thought I would go in and take a look. What the heck, it´s free, right? I was completely unprepared for what I was about to see. I am sure you have seen in such places in Europe, so I don´t feel like I need to explain the magnificense of the place. It literally took my breath away. I returned there on Saturday to take pictures and on Sunday to attend a mass.