Beautiful Scenery and People
A nice street scene in Cuenca, Ecuador. We met some really great people in Cuenca, went to the National Park of Cajas and just hung out. Cuenca is known for their hat making and also go to see the shop where they made the Indiana Jones hat, which is very cool.
Chordeleg, just 5 kilometers away from Gualaceo, is a pre-Incan town where important archaeological objects can be found. You can either walk there or take a local bus, if you haven't already rented a motorbike to see Gualaceo. It's a very picturesque village with lovely old terraced houses with terracotta roofs. The village has wonderful views of the valley as it is built on the slope of the mountain. It is packed with art craft shops especially pottery and jewelery mostly gold, which is a tradition here and has been so from very old times. Prices are much better than Cuenca but be sure that the quality of gold you are buying is worthy of the money you are paying. There is also an ethnographic museum in the square and an open market in the main square on Sundays.
MUSEO BANCO CENTRAL 'PUMAPUNGO'
The admission fee of US$3, at first, appeared to be a little too high for me as the archaeological section was small and non-too-impressive.
But, wow, the 2nd floors’ ethnological section must be the most impressive museum of its kind I had ever seen in a L-O-N-G while.
There was many information provided about the cultures along the coasts, in the mountains and in the jungle of Ecuador. There were traditional costumes, musical instruments, jewellery, traps, nets, pots, and a myriad of household wares, replicas of houses the people lived in displayed, together with detailed explanations. It was a thoroughly impressive exhibition.
The most interesting displays, for me, were the showcases of SHRUNKEN HEADS!!
The Shuar people of the jungle used to shrink the heads of the enemies they killed. Unfortunately, there was not much information provided on HOW the heads were shrunk. Perhaps, with some kind of liquid or over the fire or something. But there they were… the eerily small heads of the enemies, about the size of a… say… toy football, with the eyes closed, the mouths sewn up with some kind of fibre and stick and the mop of hair.
I had never seen anything like this before and I doubt I ever will for a L-O-N-G time. It was just incredible for me. There was a small note saying that Ecuadorean law now does not allow the shrinking of human heads anymore. OK, good to know.
Inca Ruins – Todos los Santos
For people coming to Cuenca after visiting the Inca ruins of Peru, the central Inca ruins of Cuenca may not seem like much, but they are worth having a quick look at as you stroll along the banks of the Rio Tomebamba. Unfortunately, much of the stone work was removed as a source of building materials for other buildings in the centre of Cuenca, especially the Catedral Del Sangrario, but there are some fine examples of Inca architecture still visible especially in the form of a beautifully constructed stone archway, stone walls and niches completed with the typical precise Inca stone masonry. There is also the remains of a colonial mill.
Walk east along 3 de Noviembre or Calle Larga. If walking along 3 de Noviembre turn left up the hill when you reach a bridge leading to a large roundabout on the opposite bank. You will come to the ruins on you left. Walking along Calle Larga you will need to fork right onto the Av. Todos los Santos. The hill will lead back up onto Calle Larga and you will pass the ruins on your left.
Ruinas de Todos los Santos
The Ruins of Todos los Santos are not an impressive sight but it is important because this was the first hill of the old city included in the Spanish foundation in 1557. It shows the mixing of Canaris, Incas and Spaniards in the best way, as there are constructions of all three civilisations here. It is on your way to the Pumapungo on Calle Larga, a few meters away from the church of Todos los Santos on the street going to the river. It has some remains of Inca walls, some arks of ruined constructions and an old water mill. You can also have a look from Calle Larga.