Laid-Back Colonial Charm

Cuenca! I’ve settled! Here, in this historic center of Ecuador, I will stay for a month to start up my life coaching studies. I arrived a couple of days ago after a three hour car ride from Guayaquil through the Andes, reaching up to 4500m. Spectacular to be able to be above the clouds – in a car! This far I’ve only been strolling around in downtown Cuenca and been to the supermaxi to get groceries for the stay in my Airbnb.

After Quito, Cuenca is Ecuador’s most important and beautiful colonial city. But don’t tell that to the locals, who insist that their laid-back culture, cleaner streets and more agreeable weather outclass the capital, hands down. The city is the center of many craft traditions, including ceramics, metalwork and the internationally famous panama hat – and the nearby villages offer many more handicrafts besides.

Dating from the 16th century, Cuenca’s historic center, a Unesco World Heritage Site with its trademark skyline of massive rotundas and soaring steeples, is a place time keeps forgetting; nuns march along cobblestone streets, kids in Catholic-school uniforms skip past historic churches, and old ladies spy on promenading lovers from their geranium-filled balconies.

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