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cuenca – a visual feast

I had no plan to visit Cuenca at all but when I attempt to return to Atillo where I have left my bike while walking in the hills it turns out to be a little more complicated than I imagined. A bus from Ingapirca drops me on the PanA at El Tambo but none of the buses passing through this town to the north seem in the slightest bit interested in picking up a passenger who is not making the journey all the way to Quito. After two and half hours of fruitless waiting, I succumb to the shouts of the bus touts on the opposite side of the road incessantly crying out, Cuenca, Cuenca, Cuenca. I cross the road and enter a bus heading south. I never understood those bus touts but it does work, after all.


Eggs. It's hard to believe the big ones are real. Ostrich eggs...? No idea.


Carrot juice...

...and a shot of alafafa makes for a drink that just about matches the colour of the table.

Strange tubers.

Women with hats.


Study in red.




Flowers and greens.

Chicken feet.

Cow feet.

Jesus, of the fluorescent halo, inspecting the small goods.

Red Jesus.

Back on the streets.

The hat maker in his shop...

... with his hats drying in the sun after steaming and shaping.

Hat blocks.

I asked him how long he had been here working in his shop and he laughed:..."Oh, more than fifty years!"


Glimpses of the cathedral's coloured domes and turrets.

At the flower market.

Bees, drawn irresistibly...

... to an overwhelming array of sweet on display around the cathedral.


A cargo bike that has seen better days.

Plantain chips.

Newspaper man.

Cherubs on the church doors.

As I stopped to snap this little corner a woman walked by, touched her fingers to the cross, and kissed them.

Street art, nicely framed.

Sleeping dog.


Another glimpse.

More steps down to the river.



I can't resist photos of these poor piggies. Note the woman's matching t-shirt.


Medicinal herbs, including those ubiquitous orange paramo thistle like flowers, which are said to soothe a headache.

As I circle around and around the city, I am arrested each time I catch sight of these domes against the sky.

Not submissive nor devoted: women - beautiful, free and crazy. Nice sentiment. I'd like to see a little more evidence of it.

Correa, we women are more than pretty legs... intriguing.

Bus on the PanA. I had ample opportunity to observe and come to the conclusion that I made the right decision to take the road east. It didn't look much like happy cycling out there. I end up going all the way back to Riobamba in order to catch a bus back to Atillo.


{ 7 } Comments

  1. WanderingbyBicycle | June 17, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    I came across your blog last month and it has quickly become one of my favorites. Thanks for the great photos and stories.

  2. Tony | June 20, 2013 at 3:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks Anna, for making us aware of what amazing countries there are in South America. Sitting here in Australia, it makes you realise how Europe and North America-centric we generally are in our travel choices. Naturally cost getting there plays a part. Of course all our eyes will be on Brazil for the World Cup next year, and Ecuador does come into some people’s consciences over Julian Assange! Having been enjoying your latest flurry of entries as usual. Thank You.

  3. Cesca | June 21, 2013 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the photos of Cuenca. I gather that Cuenca is attracting a lot of not-so-cashed-up American retirees. Hope it’s not going to spoil it for the locals because it looks like a very attractive town.

  4. anna | June 23, 2013 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Cesc. Indeed, Ecuador is a bit overwhelmed with US expats. I met a guy (from the US) in Cuenca doing a research project on the phenomenon.

    Vilcabamba is a really spooky expat community but more on that later.

  5. Bianca⎜nomadbiba | June 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

    What beautiful photos you take! I’m going to Ecuador later this year and your photos are very inspiring. I’m happy to have stumbled upon your blog :)

  6. Christopher | June 28, 2013 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Perhaps those strange tubers are some kind of yams?

  7. Erin | January 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

    I feel in love with the street art when I was in Cuenca. The photos that is 15th from the bottom. Do you have a photo of the one near those of a guy smiling wearing a headdress. If you do I would really love to see it.

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