Initially we had planned to stay at our comfy B&B for our entire two-month stay while we were in Cuenca, but once we arrived, we found that it would be much cheaper, and more comfortable for us to rent an apartment. You may have read that it is cheap to live in Cuenca, and it is. We have friends that are renting a very nice furnished apartment for $350 a month. We found a lovely furnished one-bedroom loft apartment in the Old Town area and moved in after our second week at the B&B.
I love the location of our apartment, we are directly across the street from San Sebastian Church and park. It’s lovely to look at, but it can get loud in the evenings. Almost every weekday evening they offer a free dance class, similar to Zumba, outside in the park. It runs for about two hours. If we are home attempting to “Netflix and Chill,” we have to compete with the music for about two hours. Nonetheless, it’s a great apartment, next time; however, we may search for something a little quieter (damn, I hope this doesn’t make us sound old!).
One of the places that our new friends told us not to miss was the Amaru Zoo, located in Cuenca. I have mixed feelings about zoos. I love animals, in fact before I joined the Marine Corps, my plan was to become a wildlife biologist. Guess I chose a different “wild life.” Regardless, I know there is a lot of controversy about zoos, but after learning more about the Amaru zoo, I’m really glad we went!
The zoo is family owned and has grown exponentially over the past several years. I have been to lots of zoos in the past, and it is by far the most unique zoo I have ever been too. The family initially started out as a small wildlife rescue facility, but after a short time, they had to expand as the number of wild animals they received increased. Many of the animals at the Amaru Zoo have been saved from trafficking.
One of the things I found unique about the zoo was that the paths were all natural. It is a lot of walking uphill and on dirt. It felt as though we were on a day hike surrounded by wild animals. It is obvious the zoo is trying to make the animal habitats as natural and spacious as possible.
You could get up close and personal with a lot of the animals, some may feel as though it’s too close for comfort, but not us! About mid-way through the park, there is a covered picnic area. It is the only place in the park you can purchase snacks. Just beware, as soon as you purchase snacks, you may find yourself surrounded by monkeys! Yes, they roam free in this area. We found that if you get out of the shade, they will not try to steal your food, but once you are under the picnic shelter, all bets are off!
It was hard to leave these little guys, they were so adorable and mischievous! We moved on to the nearby aviary where we were in awe of the multiple variety of parrots. One took quite a liking to Kevin’s camera case and caught a ride for the entire length of the aviary!
Throughout the back part of the zoo, there were tubes made out of chicken wire for the monkeys to venture around in. This guy followed us for quite awhile, and then when we turned our attention away to look at other monkeys, the little stinker peed on my backpack!
Kevin gave the monkey a good talking to; bet he won’t do that again (yeah, right!)
After that, we were very cautious and made sure we were keeping our eye on that guy.
I bet you thought this post was all about monkeys! The zoo did have several other animals, and we got to see most of them being fairly active.
Can’t wait to see these guys up close and personal in the Galapagos! We will be there starting at the end of March for about three weeks!
There are many museums in Cuenca, and we visited a few. But my favorite was definitely the Pumapungo Museum and Archeological Park. The Spaniards destroyed most of the Incan Cities, and though there isn’t much left in Cuenca, it is still interesting to walk around and marvel at what these master craftsmen built so long ago.
The museum is free and inside there are three floors of art and interesting artifacts from Ecuador’s many diverse indigenous cultures. Most intriguing were the shrunken heads or “tsantsa” from the Shuar culture.
It seems everyday we find somewhere new to explore in and around Cuenca. Our social calendar was quickly filled during our stay here. For those planning to visit or move to Cuenca, I encourage you to start checking out Gringo Post. It is a great publication designed to meet people, find out where the best tasting restaurants are located, recommended tours and events, business directories, etc.
Everyone has heard of Carnival and how crazy it gets in Brazil. But did you know it’s big in many Central and South American countries? Well, it is. And we’ll cover it on our next blog. Until then, hasta luego.