Monday, July 4, 2011

Final week in Ecuador, visited colonial Cuenca and the fountain of youth at Vilcabamba

Cuenca is Ecuador most famous colonial city and right it should be. We spent 4 days in the city and found it charming. We stayed at the warm family run Hotel Europa, for $23 a night included breakfast plus parking. Simple breakfast of juice, milk and croissant. Cuenca itself seemed more modern than colonial but we did manage to take in of its charm. We visited two hat makers in the city first was the Rafeal Paredes S and sons, they had a small museum when you enter the store and at the back workers doing the final finishes to the hats nice place but the Homero Ortega factory was better. First they had a free tour (english or spanish) of the hat making process and the history behind the Panama hats. Named because early Panama workers used them but originally made in Ecuador. That was my mistake when I bought one in Panama and when I showed the hat makers in Ecuador they told me right away its an fake, could of got a real one, better quality for the same price "live and learn". After the tour they took us into their show room of hats ranging from $25 to $1500.

Another interesting place we visited was the National Bank museum and was free also, can you believe our luck. They had really interesting ethnography display of the 3 different regions the costas, sierra mountain people and the amazon jungle natives. At the lower level they had Ecuadors history of currency on displayed, its history because they have adopted the american green back as the currency of choice. 

Vilcabamb is Ecuadors fountain of youth, people here are supposed to live longer and we can see why its such a popular retirement place. It has good temperature all year round, clean and the people seem very friendly. As for some special force that keep people healthy we didn't see too many old folks but we saw tones of foreigners around, enjoying drinks, foods and hell a lot of smoking so I don't expect them to live that long. But it is a nice place to rest and kill a few days getting ready for Peru. We stayed at the hostel Le Rendez Vous run by a french couple is one of the best hostels we have seen at only $18 for both that included breakfast but had shared bath and no parking and we still liked it. We found parking down the street for $1 a night.

Vilcabamba, we didn't do much as you can see