Sunday, June 29th, 2003 – Day 131

Sunday, June 29th, 2003 – Day 131

Today is Sunday, so I my plan is to hop on a bus at the main terminal for Sigsig, Chordeleg, and Gualaceo. I set the alarm at 6.30am but did not get up until 6.50am. I did put my mattress on the floor last night to sleep 🙂 Hard to catch a bus this early so I took a taxi to the terminal which cost 1.50US. There are plenty of buses from Cuenca to Gualaceo on market day. The bus was nearly full and paid the 1.50US for the 40 minute journey. It was raining at this stage (very heavy) and the market sellers looked miserable. Well, I visited FOUR markets in the town. There was the mart across the river, which was very muddy. There was an outdoor food market, an indoors clothes market and a small market about 1km away. The mart was interesting with lots of horses and pigs for sale. The weather made things tough. There is a nice “Bridges of Madison County” type bridge to get there. The town is quite big and even had an ATM. I stayed about one hour thirty minutes and then a local bus to Chordeleg which cost only twenty cent.

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Gualaceo. Raining but nice colour and background mountains and mist. (29-06-2003)

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Gualaceo. A muddy animal mart. (29-06-2003)

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Gualaceo. Its all doom and gloom. (29-06-2003)

Chordeleg is a small town and reports said the most “touriorientedated. Maybe for local tourists. The only thing on the main streets were jewelry shops (this is what makes the town famous). The market was small and it only took me five minutes to check out. The scenery surrounding the town was nice with green mountains covered in mist. Stayed about half an hour and took a 40 minute bus journey to Sigsig, which only cost fifty cent.

Sigsig has an excellent market which was covered. This was good beacuse it was raining very heavily. Lots of people about just coming from mass. Very nice scenery surrounding the town. Surprised many of the women were barefoot. I had not noticed this anyplace else. Also instead of felt hats both men and women wore “Pananma hats”. I see some places charge 900 US for these hats.

The villagers harvest the raw plants (paja toquilla) prepare the straw and then weave and shape the finished product. The master weavers (tejedores) employ the most exacting and laborious hand processes to weave the perfect blend of nature and art resulting in hats of transcendent quality.

The Ecuadorian straw-producing plant grows in great profusion. Its fibers are lightweight and light in color and therefore ideally suited for reflecting sunlight and keeping the wearer cool and comfortable during intense sun exposure. The straw is flexible yet strong to allow the artisans to weave hats of great intricacy and beauty. More information about the history of Panama hat making in Ecuador can be found here.

Anyway, it was a good market. I had some nice food including pork sauages filled with a cabbage type substance and steamed baby potatoes covered with herbs = .25 cent. Lots of interesting food and people in the market including roasting “Cuy” (see pictures).

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Sigsig. A shop selling ttraditional skirts. (29-06-2003)

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Sigsig. They are simply impaled and roasted. In 1996, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, about 583,000 U.S. households kept at least one guinea pig as a pet. More information on being pets here. Information of them as FOOD can be found here. (29-06-2003)

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Sigsig. As you can see “Panama hats” are all the rage this year! (29-06-2003)

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Cuenca – Ecuador – Market Day in Sigsig. Taking a break (with alcohol). (29-06-2003)

After about two hours I took a bus to Cuenca for 1.25 US. It was raining heavy and I was not back until four as it was another 45 minute drive. The bus was very full. At the station I bought a ticket to Huaquillas which is on the Ecuador / Peru border. It cost five dollars and leaves at 7.00am tomorrow morning. I then took a public bus to the city centre. It was my first time on public transport here and it was good. It cost .25 cent. It brought me to yards of a NET cafe where I spent two hours reading the Sunday News. Just like I would do at home. It was still raining. The NET cost between .70 and 1.00 US depending where you go. Connections are good and many have XP. Its harder finding an ATM in this town.