Museo de la Historia de la Medicina
This fascinating museum is situated on the South bank of the river, on Avenida 12 de Abril, and is open on weekdays from 9 to 12 and 1:30 to 5. The handsome building which houses the exhibit is an old hospital (next door to a far-from-modern functioning hospital) which was in use from 1861 to 1977.
Built around a pleasant courtyard, the former hospital is restored, and obsolete medical equipment is displayed along with brief explanations. In addition to machines and various benches and tables, you will also see some mummified remains - the stuff of nightmares.
Depending on your mood, this place will strike you as macabre or as a testimony to medical inventiveness. It reminded me of the (fictional) abandoned maternity ward in "The Boys from Brazil."
The curator is the most gracious, interesting and welcoming lady. A donation of $1 is expected.
I had a wonderful time there, counting my blessings and remembering the hospitals of my childhood. I took some more photos, and you can find them in a travelogue below.
Gringo bar but fun!
Another German-owned haunt overlooking the river. A mellow place to have a few drinks, snacks and a meal. They offer inexpensive sandwiches in two sizes, make really nice mojitos and had a fantastic pepper steak for about $7.
The Ingapirca ruins are the largest Cañar-Incan ruins in Ecuador.
The Cañars had previously built their site here, using rocks brought in from the rivers. These rocks, as such, were round. When the Incas conquered them, they destroyed some parts of the settlement, and built their temples and houses, using rocks CARVED out from bigger rocks, as is the style of the Incas. So one could see two different types of rocks here on this site.
The Cañars worshipped the moon, so there were several crescent-shaped structures like the terraces for cultivation.
Meanwhile, the Incas worshipped the sun. There is a Sun Temple - an elliptical-shaped building constructed around a large rock - with 4 trapezoidal niches at the base of the wall and a door. During the 4 solstices and equinoxes, the sun would shine through the door and illuminate each of the niches accordingly. The building is constructed in the typical Incan way - without mortar. Impressive!
Besides this ruin, there was apparently a rock called The Inca's Face about 10 minutes’ walk away. It is the profile of a wall of rock that looked like a face. Could be anyone’s face, actually.
There are daily buses to Ingapirca from Cuenca, leaving, I believe at 9am (but do check and confirm beforehand!!). It takes 2.5 hours to reach there.
Once there, they put you with a tour guide who shows you the most significant architectural structures, archaeological information and tell you some interesting stories involving sacrifices and virginal maidens.
Frankly, as the bus was leaving at 1pm, we barely had time for the tour of the ruins, the sighting of the Face and the dash-through visit to the museum, before we had to hop back on the bus to return to Cuenca.
However, the site is too small to warrant a half-day visit, for example, so it does not really make sense to stay overnight in Ingapirca or other nearby towns of El Tambo or Cañar.
I guess, if the bus leaves at 1:30pm or 2pm, it would have been perfect, haha.
To Market... Live Animals
The live small animal section is the most tightly packed area of the market. Women stand still, holding a huge hen under each arm, or a crate of little chicks. Blow up the photos to see a scary crone holding a poor cuy by the neck.
Ducklings, chicks and cuys (guinea pigs) are traded here. It is a noisy, crazy and hectic spot, on a large platform up a few steps from ground level.
You will smell the flower market before you see it as you approach the square from either Plaza San Francisco or Parque Calderon. The small but popular market is held daily in El Carmen Square, its traditional home for years. It is here that locals set up their bright stalls and add their own splash of colour to the centre of Cuenca. A great place to sit and people watch for a while as not only is the square a popular place for flower vendors but also groups of locals who like to socialise in the square.