It had been days since we met up with Mike and Howard; they were going to be busy with out of town/country guests. When one of their guests did a no-show, they contacted us for a get-together. We arranged to meet after Ron’s Sunday church duty was over.
Getting to town early, Ron and I stopped into a couple of
lesser than basilica churches to see what is happening. YIKES! One church was decked out like New York City’s Radio City Music Hall back from my childhood. This is religious theater at its best.
After Ron’s church attendance, we met up with Mike and Howard at our old stomping grounds, the apartment building where we stayed. Our first stop was for lunch, but it was closed. These are carnival days; many businesses close for a few days so employees can go out of town. We landed at Original Italy Pizza. Pizzas here are large enough to share, and eating them gave us plenty of time to catch up on the latest stories to share.
Post lunch, Howard and Mike suggested we walk to Parque El
Paraiso, one we had not been to yet. We walked and talked and talked and walked. At one point, we were at the back base of the Pumapungo ruins. There is a small aviary located here, which we had wanted to revisit; our first time was two years ago.
Aside from the caged birds, (I know why they sing), there llamas grazing along the hillside in addition to a wide assortment of flowering plants and trees. Hummingbirds fly freely all over the area.
Getting high on nature, we continued our trek; much of it was along the river, which hydro-powered our mental outlook. The weather could not have been more idea,
hovering between the high 60s and low 70s all day. At one point, we walked through a tunnel where once again, the wall art was significantly stunning and original. Cuenca, considered the hub for writers and artists in Ecuador; no one can doubt the artistic part with the number of pieces on display in public places.
We walked quite a distance before Parque El Paraiso was in sight. One of the special things about this park that Howard informed us about was that the Tomebamba and Yanuncay
rivers converge into one within the park. Covering an incredible 17 hectares, if the two rivers are not enough water, the municipal government created an artificial lagoon in the park. At times, one can rent one of the 10 pedal boats that accommodate up to four people to pedal around the lagoon.
In addition, there is a driver education park within the park. When we first saw it, I thought it was a mini-driving course, but it is the real thing. There is something for everyone. A field is set apart for soccer and as you walk farther, tons of exercise and play equipment dot the landscape. One jungle gym alone made me wish I were 10 years old again.
Walking various paths was intriguing. We bypassed the
elevated boardwalk to follow the paths through the wooded areas alongside the river. Children were playing all over and since it is carnival time, they were spraying foam and squirting water at each other. Laughter is a melody that I never tire of hearing. Mike and I tried to keep our children in check, but it is holiday time, so they were feeling boisterous. Families, couples, and singles were all entranced with the beauty of the park. Dogs were dizzily running around checking every new smell. All human senses were rewarded with an enchanting feast making for a magical day, but it was not to end yet.
Howard had mentioned there was a sculpture he wanted us to see; it was of a man emerging from a volcano. Developing mental pictures, I could not think why this would be interesting, but we were enjoying their company. What the
hell? Walking hither and yon, we passed a young man making homemade taffy. The sample we were given reminded me of the old Mary Jane candies. As good as it was, it was a high sugar alert.
When we reached the sculpture, the guys directed us to, all preconceived thoughts were tossed out. This was a
magnificent piece of art. Photos from a distance do not do it justice at all. You need to get up close and personal for fully appreciating the work. Stones that create lava paths are decorated with assorted tiles, which are individually decorated with characters, symbols, people, and animals.
I had to walk all around this piece in
order to take it all in. Each step gave it a new perspective. It seemed that I would never be able to ingest all that it offered. This place begs to be revisited often. Multiple visits are the only way to acquire the synergy on display. It is a creation where the whole complex is greater than the simple sum of its parts. Alternatively, all the parts are separate artistic creations.
Set in the back of this courtyard is the Museo de los Metales. Mike told us it has been closed each time they have been here. Official documentation states, “The collection that this museum shows is based on metallic pieces, especially of corporal decoration, created in the pre-Inca era.”
Mind you, we left the apartment at 10am. By this point in time, it was bearing down on 5:45 pm and we had not stopped for a sit break yet. I kept waiting for someone to suggest it, but even Ron failed me. When we reached a small square filled mostly with stores closed for the holiday, I made a beeline for the bench.
After a 15-minute break, I decided we should take a taxi home. The thought of continuing to walk, then climb 96 steps, followed by another four blocks of walking to catch the bus, seemed un-doable. We did walk a few blocks where we thought getting a taxi would be easy. Not so, it seems. They were either full or diverting to other places. Knowing it would be close to 7pm before we reached home, I gave in to the inevitable.
We did finally arrive home at 6:45pm. I turned to Ron and asked, “Aren’t you tired?” His reply was “My legs are like tree stumps.” Lesson to be learned here ~ Be Wary of Younger Men – They can be dangerous to your health. All considered, it was a damn great day! Thanks fellows.