Plaza Otorongo is a popular meeting place.

It is at the bottom of a huge hill near the Tomebamba river and one way to enter and leave the plaza is ascending or descending a long and steep stairway. Stairs are grouped in sections with five steps and a landing to each section. Going down is hard, but going up, at eight thousand feet above sea level, is stout.

The Plaza has restaurants, lodgings, a yoga and pilates studio, art gallery, and a huge open courtyard. Certain times of day students use these steps as a shortcut to go down to the Plaza and across the river to the University of Cuenca.

This morning a young man exits at the top of the stairs. An old man is going down, the way I came up, moving diagonally down the stairs so he doesn’t pitch forward and fall down.

Street art reminds you that urban problems won’t disappear. Drugs, crime, deteriorating infrastructure, broken promises and broken dreams don’t go because we don’t  like to see them. Street art is the safety cap on a tea kettle. If it is humming, you have to take a  closer look for the fire.

Cuenca, for all it’s Old World charm, has New World pain..

Cities, like rivers, always have cross currents.

 

 

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