If you like strolling empty sidewalks with little traffic, and only a few walkers, seven in the morning is good in Cuenca, Ecuador.

It is a downhill jaunt from the end of Munoz Luis Cordero to the Parque Calderone. There are many General streets in this district but I remember Luis Cordero because at one end is Calle Munoz Vernaza, 3-46, where I reside for December 2015.

The Dorado panaderia I like to visit each morning is operated by the nearby El Dorado hotel and offers upscale breads and pastries, coffee and sandwiches. It has an upstairs where you eat or visit with friends and business associates, a clean bano on the bottom floor, modern decor, well presented baked goods. There are prongs to pick up your selections, and, once chosen, put them into a basket and carry them to the counter. There, the sales person lifts baked goods out of your basket,with prongs, puts them into a bag and rings up the sale..

One of the first things people ask me here is, ” Do you live here?, and, ” Do you like our city? ”

My standard answer is – “I don’t live here but I love your city.”

Even though Cuenca isn’t as big as Montevideo, it has a quarter million people nestled in between high Andes mountain ranges. It doesn’t spring from the indigenous jungle people like Costa Rica or Belize, or the cattle people of Uruguay, but from small, short stature, reserved people who live quietly in the high Andes and spend time growing crops on land that isn’t hospitable to farmers.

Cuenca is a city with a Spanish history rather than British, Catholic rather than Protestant. Ecuador shares more in common with Peru than Uruguay and more with Costa Rica than Belize. 

If countries are determined by the traits of their indigenous peoples, Ecuador, and, by extension Cuenca, should reflect the mountain people of the Andes and it seems, to me, that this is true.

Geography does more to determine a countries character than all the books written about it.

Ecuador is now my fifth travel ring.

 

 

 

 

 

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