2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage

2012 Cuenca Perspectives Collage


My mission in publishing this blog is first to provide a living history of my settlement and life in Cuenca, and to provide myself and the reader with a journal account delineating my reasons for why I have chosen to settle in Cuenca. Second, the posts are my way of staying in contact with family and friends back in the states, and to provide them with an understanding of a country and culture that most North Americans have little knowledge and awareness. Third, the blog is open to one and all who wish to compare and contrast the experiences of expat bloggers living in Cuenca, so that you can determine whether or not from your perspective Cuenca is an appropriate move for you. Fourth, my blog provides another example of how expats view and interpret life in Cuenca. Ecuadorians and Cuencanos who may read this blog are especially invited to post comments that may enhance all expats understanding and appreciation of Cuneca and its people, or to correct any misinterpretations in my assumptions and perceptions of Cuencano culture. Finally, I hope I can convey the feeling of love and appreciation that grows within me each passing day for this heavenly city nestled in the Andes and its very special people.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


When Jose Cortez and I visited in November of 2011the Hosteria Dos Chorreras just outside the Cajas National Park, nearby we were informed of Problado de Guavidula, an archeological site of an abandoned town belonging to the Canari and Inca. This place in its early days was a necessary way-station between the Sierra and the Coast.  The town also served as a place to hide liquor smugglers, and conducted a gold mining operation as well.

For the price of six dollars, Jose and I took a horse-back ride from Chorreras to  Problado de Guavidula, which normally take about thirty minutes one way, but our somewhat successful efforts to get the horses beyond a simple walk allowed us to reach the town in twenty minutes.

After traveling a stretch of this road there is much fauna along the way as well as in the town itself.  One plant In particular that stands out because of its brilliantly white leaves and the fact that it was ubiquitous appears frequently in the photos, but I no longer remember what the name of the plant is.

You will see photos of a typical Indian house, where the people of this region once lived in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This house has two rooms: one room with all the clothing used at the time; and the kitchen where the stove, clay pots, the attic, the guinea pig (cuy) farm and the meat preparation took place.

Also on display in the various buildings are weaving looms, many types of horse saddles, laquered tree trunk tables, a lodge, and a pulperia (paper store).  Museum artifacts are also found in the various buildings of crockery, tools, and various types of labeled mineral deposits which I assume could be found in the cave.

There is also a General Store, which included the restaurant, hairdressing, and the store. 

The third cabin served as the inn, and was used as living quarters of the drivers and other visitors who sought asylum for one or more nights.  Low-lying tables were often put together and then covered to make beds for the evening.

It was also the restaurant of Mrs. Cassandra, name given in honor of the lady who was in charge of feeding the people of this area.

The saloons were plentiful.  While on the tour, Jose and I were given an alcoholic drink, which I assume was and may still be home-brew drank especially among the indigenous.  It truly tasted and pungently smelled like turpentine.  I guess it was all right to drink.  I’m still here to write about it.

The Encantada mine is fascinating as one makes one’s way through tunnels that are maze-like.  Included was a lab; a pit of death, where the miners created scary images to ward off evil spirits; colorful lighting effects which are obviously a contemporary touch found in the caves; the mill; the cave of the pan (bread) with its baking oven; and bats, a mainstay of any self-respectable cave; a place where the miner's bathed; and the delivery room where the miners  proceeded to the distribution of money obtained after the extraction of gold and held in the canteen, located in the same place.

This society was formed by a group of seven or eight people who worked the whole process of mining and washing gold, but generally found only pyrite, a material very similar to gold for its brilliance, but of little monetary value.

We could not miss a chapel for religious believers, which included religious images of the time.  The chapel was quite tiny compared to say the saloon.  I assume the smallness of the chapel in contrast to the largeness of the saloon reflected  the values of those making their way through the town.

To finish Guavidula, there is a walk along the river Quinuas, with places where they hid the bootleggers and spaces for the exchange, which was conducted with the products of the harvest area.

In the photos you will see our guide, who was a gracious hostess, but spoke no English.  If you want to really understand what you are seeing, it is best to have someone bi-lingual along.  Lucky for me, Jose could do the translating.  You will also see the young man, who served as our guide as we rode the horses to and from the Problado de Guavidula.

Both the Hosteria and the exploration of Problado de Guavidula made for a really great day.

When the photos come up.  Click on "slide show" in the upper left hand corner.  Set the timing for seven seconds, and enjoy the presentation.