On December 1, 1999, Cuenca was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in recognition of the culture, handicrafts and handmade goods produced here. CIDAP, the Inter-American Center for Handicrafts, is an international institution created to promote and safeguard Cuenca’s crafts and folk art. CIDAP is housed in this magnificent mansion, which like all museums in … More Cuenca’s crafts: from Panama hats to blacksmiths
For a city of around 350,000 residents, the Cuenca faithful are spoiled for choice when it comes to places of worship. In the historic district alone, there are 53 churches (one for every week of the year), but there are at least a dozen historical and architecturally-prominent ones that stand out. Here are a few. … More Cuenca is all about the churches
The town of Banos, a nexus point between the Andes and the Amazon, is steeped in mysticism and mythology. The active volcano Tungurahua towers over the town; its last major eruption in 2006 a reminder of “Mama Tungurahua’s” power. Balancing that destructive power is the benevolence of Nuestra Senora del Rosario (Our Lady of Holy … More Waterfalls and Whimsy in Banos
When in Mindo, you notice two things right away. The ever-present clouds that drop and lift over Mindo’s valley; a persistent cover that loosens a steady stream of fine droplets (not quite rain), creating one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. Birds, butterflies, orchids – many of them endemic to this corner of … More Fifty Shades of Green: Mindo’s Cloud Forest
I don’t know if it is my lack of nuanced Spanish or Latin Americans’ insouciant approach to time and schedules, but we missed Carnaval. Or at least we missed the exuberant parade and costumes that Carnaval is noted for. Celebrations go on for days, but Monday was the big day and an online search for … More Quito, Part 2: Carnaval, Centro Historico and Straddling the Equator.
Quito, Ecuador sits at 2,850 metres above sea level; a city of over two million people spread out as far as the eye can see over a valley ringed by mountains. Quito was knocked off first-place “high city” status by La Paz Bolivia, which sits almost 1000 metres higher. We were warned about altitude sickness … More Quito: The Second-Highest City in the World