Monday, November 1, 2010

CUENCA PART 2 – BETWEEN MIDNIGHT AND DAWN

CUENCA THROUGH AN AUSSIE GRINGO’S EYES


The plan is to condense three months into one day, I’m aiming for six chapters, that’s four hours a pop, should be a breeze!




Home is in the centre of town, on busy Calle Larga or Long Street, not far from the Tomebamba River... 

The building is traditional adobe and very old.  It has two storeys and two central courtyards, and over a period of months will require a great deal of restoration.  It is a daunting project I would never attempt, but luckily Jen and Chris can see beyond the neglect, the mud and the grime, for them the grand old building and its address, right in the heart of the old city, has great merit.

Formerly a furniture outlet facade hiding an old colonial hacienda, the shop itself  and the original building behind will be repaired and restored  over a frustrating long period to re emerge as a tasteful and elegant addition to Cuenca’s historical centre.

THREE STAGES TO PERFECTION
 Across the road live the coconut sellers, an extended family  including many children who peddle their wares through the streets of Cuenca; coconut juice straight from the shell and slices of pineapple.  


Far from being a noisy intrusion, the arrival of a delivery truck usually just before midnight signals for us an excited rush to the first floor windows.  A frantic unloading of produce has begun,  each coconut tossed to a chain of family members, eventually  ending out of sight inside the darkened building.  The entire transaction is  accompanied by a combined buyer seller reckoning of quantity,  uno, dos, tres, cuatro up to and beyond the hundreds...the tally repeated in turn by vendor and buyer. The tally must match.



Once the accounting and no doubt the paying has been accomplished and all the coconuts stored behind the shuttered doors, peace and quiet  is restored to the street.  The coconuts will emerge again next morning , neatly stacked on the tricycles ready for sale.






With the coconuts out of the way we settle down to sleep.  I snuggle under the blankets, outside its not cold and its not hot.  Like ‘baby bear’ in the three bears nursery rhyme the weather is just right.  But I do smile when I think of friends back home whose first thought was South America, Ecuador, equator, hot as Hades!

Of course they all forgot about the Andes, those incredibly beautiful mountains stretching from the tip of Chile way north to Ecuador and beyond.  The high altitude that guarantees an equable climate and no nasty little bities or creepy crawlies to mar your day.

And so begins and ends our first night in Cuenca.

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Next – Part 3.
7am  - THE WORK DAY BEGINS