Sunday, Aug 7, 2016
We met Pam, Eddy, and Aurobindo at the Terminal Terrestre (Bus Station) this morning. We are going to visit two towns outside of Cuenca. One is Chordeleg, know for its silver jewelry, and the other is Gualaceo, known for its local manufacture of shoes. The 45 minute bus ride to Gualaceo is 80 cents. The 15 minute ride from there to Chordeleg is 40 cents.
Bus rides in Ecuador are interesting. There is always someone selling something. Sometimes before leaving the station, a vendor jumps on the bus, stands at the front, and shouts (so those in the back can hear) the attributes of his wares. Other times, a vendor gets on and shouts and promotes his wares while the bus is driving, and at some point the bus pulls over to the side of the road and the vendor jumps out.
Today we had three different vendors trying to sell us things during our 45 minute bus ride to Gualaceo. I can’t understand much of it, but I guess they usually all tell their “story” first, which often involves how God saved them from drug or alcohol abuse. Then they talk about their family and children they are raising, and then they pitch their product.
I admire their entrepreneurial spirit, and give them credit for getting out and trying to earn a living. It is hard to listen to though after a while. The shouting starts to wear on me, but when I feel agitated I close my eyes and try to listen for words I know.
I don’t think I was the only one feeling agitated however because after the third guy got up and started his pitch some Ecuadorian women in the back started yelling at him, and I even distinctly heard them speak English too, “shut up”. It was a tough crowd today, but I suppose in true Ecuadorian fashion, the guy just kept right on going.
Chordeleg sits on a mountain top above Gualaceo. Since it’s Sunday all the shops will be closed by 1 pm, so we decided to visit there first, then return to Gualaceo, have lunch and walk the town.
Chordeleg is a cute, very small “tourist” town. Every street is lined with multiple jewelry stores. The street poles have the traditional jewelry designs that are made here hanging from them as decorations.
After we walked around Chordeleg, had a real coffee (which was hard to find…instant was prevalent), and visited the shops, we got back on a bus for Gualaceo. When we arrived we walked to the Mercado, because this is where we decided we would have lunch. On the weekends the second floor is filled with vendors serving roasted pig. It was delicious!
Our $4 lunch plate…best pork I have had in a long time
After we ate we walked through the Mercado and looked for…you got it…jalapenos. Sadly, none were to be found. I did find this cute little woman though who was sitting on the steps inside the Mercado.
We walked around Gualaceo looking at all the shops and watching all the people. In Cuenca on a Sunday afternoon the town is closed up and quiet. Here, it looks like there are a lot of family outings and gatherings happening.
We were relaxing in the park and I was watching a kid try to pick out a balloon when I heard a commotion. I looked toward the sound and saw some young guy hitting an old Andean woman, wearing a Panama hat, over her head with his brief case. She stood up with fists raised and he left shouting. He walked toward all of us, and then continued past us shouting the whole time.
I don’t think he was mentally right by the look on his face. It’s a good thing he left because the old woman was coming after him. You have seen from my pics how much these small Andean women can carry around with them, and I suspect he picked a fight with the wrong person. She, although majorly pissed off (universal language understood), was fine.
It has been a great day and fun outing with our friends. Our bus ride home was packed, but we had seats and were able to doze off to sleep for a bit.