Sean Denny and I took an early 6:15am flight from Quito to arrive in Cuenca an hour later. Though quite sleepy, I was glad that we stayed awake to catch the breath-taking view of Cotopaxi volcano. Enjoying the view of the mountain was definitely much better than hiking up the mountain!
Cotopaxi Volcano from the sky
Cuenca is the capital of the Azuay Province with the city center listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site. The colonial city has temperate climate (think California!) and a ridiculously low-cost of living (i.e.$1-$2.50 fixed-prix lunch, $2 for a taxi ride, etc.). No wonder it is dubbed as one of "The Best Places to Retire" by US News & World Report (and many other reports).
The temperate climate makes it no wonder these ladies are so happy!
After intensive handicraft and souvenir shopping at Casa de la Mujer (100 craft stalls!) and the San Franciso Market, we headed over to the the New Cathedral also known as the Catedral de la Inmaculada Conception. As the city's main church in Parque Calderon, it took over a century to construct!
Lighting a candle at the New Cathedral
Want to be amazed by a robust selection of fruits and vegetables and have a delicious meat lunch with fresh juice? One of the most impressive markets is Mercado 10 de Agosto, the only market in Cuenca with an escalator.
Fabulous fruit and vegetable selection at Mercado 10 de Agosto
Outside the market, Sean and I checked off eating another animal on our list: guinea pig! Cooking the guinea pigs was typical of street food where they were put onto a stick (a very large pole) and grilled. Not too much meat, but a good treat! Note: The pig comes whole with teeth and all. Apologies to any vegetarians/vegans reading this.
Guinea pig delicacy time!