The mountains always called me in my youth and quieted my soul; however, it was the beach that I sought as there I was warmed through to my bones, and gazing at the horizon stirred a sense of wonder. Just how far would one have to travel to reach land? What was there? A fascinating culture with other ways of doing things that were better if not just as good as the ones I knew? Yet the lure of the mountains lay quietly within. When it was time to spread my wings and become a working adult I considered their beauty, but higher altitude meant cold snowy winters which was not appealing. So during the next two years when exploring other countries for possible retirement it was the mountains that called me home. We now have residency in Costa Rica and live a mile high at the base of the tallest peak in the country where the temperatures rarely go below fifty degrees.
In the summer of 2012 we explored the Ecuadorian Andes and discovered the third largest city of Cuenca felt right. I was surprised as a country girl that any city of size would be of any interest. Even Roanoke, VA where I lived for eight years in the city was too big for me. Yet a significant portion of Cuenca has the charm of old world; in fact it is a UNESCO world heritage site. So it was to this quaint locale that we returned to determine if we still are interested in spending part of the year here and part in Costa Rica.
The mini penthouse we are renting is just outside the old section but has a panoramic view that is simply fabulous. Surprisingly just outside our bedroom window is a small farm with a horse grazing as cars whiz by on a major roadway.
Our first venture was back to the center of old town. We loved seeing the indigenous women in their native garb. Each region has their own distinctive style with hats being the most obvious identifier. Ruddy cheeked children are simply gorgeous.
The flower market was fragrant and colorful with petals and attire. Older women continue the traditional dress while the younger women usually don the modern outfits. Yet cellphones are used by all.
Meandering the streets took us to an indoor market with multiple floors we had visited in 2011. We purchased a few vegetables to add to the hamburger pasta for dinner and a mango, a different variety from Costa Rica, for breakfast. On the lowest level were a group of women having their midday meal, including this precious child.
Later in the day we ended up in another market area where these beautiful girls came up to me and clealy wanted their picture taken. How could I not oblige?
Above is my big purchase, $42, of the day…a poncho made and hand embroidered by this kind woman. And we both are wearing purple!
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