Well, one city that Ecuador prides itself on is the third largest- Cuenca. That's where you can get the Panama Hats.....however, they aren't made in Panama-they're from Cuenca.
My friends and I decided that it was best to leave at night so we wouldn't lose any time...seeing as how the trip is approximately 10 hours. Yes, I said 10 hours. Honestly, my body isn't made to sit on a bus for 10 hours, so good thing you can hear loud Spanish Music blasting from the speakers or watch a horrible Spanish Action Movie that's a mix of Fast and the Furious, Days of our Lives, and any Jackie Chan movie put together. It's great (sarcasm...can you tell).
Well, I did make a wonderful investment ($1 neck pillow-One of the best decisions I've ever made)
After getting to Cuenca, we found a lovely hostal. The thing about Cuenca is that it is absolutely beautiful, you walk down the street and see walls and it looks like an alley, until you look inside and see the colonial town in a whole different light. Exquisite churches, large plazas, and cobblestone streets...it's absolutely beautiful. I enjoyed walking through one of the biggest plazas: Parque Calderon. That's where you will see people walking about and stopping in the city to rest on the benches, enjoy talking to friends and family and tourists (like me) taking tons of pictures!
I was also able to visit a church that is now a museum. It was absolutely beautiful, only you can't take pictures there. I don't really know much about the Catholic Church, so not only did I look at many of the exquisite churches built during the 15th and 16th century, but I learned about lots of things. They have these doors in the floor (forgot the name) it leads to an underground place where they bury people. When you look inside you see the real bones. Now, they took the bones out just recently to analyze them. I don't know if I would have wanted to see it though.
I even went to the market, when, no surprise there- it started to rain. We ducked into a small restaurant. Popular in Cuenca for locals and visitors, Mama Kinua's cafe is said to have the best down home indigenous cooking around! It was a great hole in the wall place....literally! So, remember how I said it was raining...well...I was in a pretty good position to miss some raindrops. Okay, so look at the visual. The blue spots shows you were rain was falling through thr roof...the darker spots represent obvious holes.
The next day, we went to Ingapirca where we were greeted by llamas. I absolutely love llamas....I don't know where that fascination came from, but oh well. It's a part of the Inca trail that leads to Machu Picchu. It has some of the Inca's best stonework. Unfortunately, it wasn't protected and most of the stones were stolen. So, although there's not much left, it is absolutely amazing.
I had such a wonderful time. Learning and just enjoying my Spring Break! Museums, parks, historical sites....I couldn't have spent my time any better than that.