Content-type: text/html Ray Manning

Monday September 5, 2016 8:02 PM


On Tuesday I start with a one hour run along the river that spilts Cuenca between the old city and the new city. There are a few other runners and walkers and try to greet each of them with a "buenos diaz" greeting. After breakfast I go walking and get lost. I have no idea where I'm at. Finally I flag down a taxi and ask him to take me pack to the central city park (parque Caberon). There I grab a Coke and find a bench to relax on. After a while a lady sits on my bench. We don't say anything to each other. Until she walks across the little path and picks up a wallet that was left there. She shows it to me and I suggest taking it to the police. But she holds on to it expecting the owners to come back for it. It's probably 30 minutes and I've pointed out the metro police again to the lady. But finally the owners come back looking for the wallet. I point them out to the lady and the wallet is re-united with the owner and everyone is happy. I have a great vegetarian sandwich for lunch and pick up my laundry on the way back to the hotel to relax. The WiFi (pronounced Wee-Fee in spanish) is down in my room, so I have to go to the lobby to access the Internet. After vegging with some television for a while I walk over to a bakery and get some cookies and go sit in the central park. A guy comes and sits on the bench with me and we talk for a bit (in spanish, of course) and then he starts hitting me up for money. This gets tiring after a while so I just get up and go back to the hotel.

Wendesday is a slow day. I get out walking for a bit to a different area in Cuenca and then return to the hotel to take a shower and check out. I take my luggage and walk a couple of blocks to a different hotel. This hotel does not look like much from the outside but the rooms are bigger, it seems to be a family-run hotel, and the WiFi is good. I just hope the wooden floors throughout are not too noisy. I get checked in and go for a long walk to the top of a hill above Cuenca. I can tell that not many foreigners come out this way from the looks that I get. Eventually I return to the central park and sit for a bit before grabbing a slice of pizza fo lunch on the way back to the hotel. I work on the business plan and budget for the non-profit for a while before going back out to the central park to sit and watch people. Except that as soon as I levae the hotel it starts to rain. So I turn around and grab my umbrella - this is the first time I've ever packed an umbrella on a trip. And I walk over to the park and hang out. As expected there are not many people around as they are all trying to stay dry. So after a while I go back to the hotel and work on the non-profit business plan. It turns out I've used up a month worth of geocoding in the last five days, so I can't finish off that part of the databases.

I wake up at 7 on Thursday but just think about things for almost an hour. Near 8 am I put on the running clothes and get in an hour run along the river and with two laps of Parque de la Madre. After getting cleaned up I walk to a travel agency. The travel agent tells me that Cuenca airport is closed - that's why the websites wouldn't let me book flights into or out of Cuenca. So I book a flight from Guayaquil to Quito and will have to take that 4 hour twisty bus ride from Cuenca to Guayaquil. I notice that getting around and conversing with people in Spanish is easier now than when I took a semester of Spanish at Long Beach City College prior to going to Central America. Why is this? I do some more walking, stop for lunch, and then pick up a few supplies to relax in the afternoon at the hotel.

The next few days are a blur. There's a lot of walking and some more running down by the river. There are conversations in spanish where I'm picking up new words and understanding what people are saying. And I'm able to respond with my limited vocabulary. It still seems so much easier to understand spanish then when I went down to Central America a few times in the 1990's. Why is this? On Sunday I catch both the F1 race from Italy and the MotoGP race from England with Spanish announcers. And it's fun to listen to the announcers during the Vuelta de Espana as they start yelling and singing everytime the favored South American rider attacks.

On Monday I get out for a good one hour run. I throw in some short hills near the river since this my last full day in Cuenca. After breakfast I drop off some laundry and go walking to a park. As I'm relaxing there are a few drops of rain and then some drizzle. I walk back to the hotel and go to sleep for an hour - it felt like something was coming on and I better get some extra rest. Besides, the previous night was the first night on this trip that I had trouble sleeping. After the nap I feel better but stay inside the hotel room and out of the chilly drizzle.

Sunday is a transit day. I give my goodbyes to Simon and Rebeca at Cuenca suites. They are both nice and intelligent people. The van that I take only has me in it and yet it still runs to Guayquil. It's a breathtaking trip through the twisty cloudy mountains. We're held up for 15 minutes or so because there has been a rock/mud slide but it gets cleaned up enough to let traffic pass. At Guayquil I wait in the airport for the 40 minute flight into Quito. Because Quito sits wedged in between two canyons the landings are semi-hairy as the plane gets moved around a lot. And then I get a taxi to the hotel and walk around a bit for a quick dinner. And here's another occasion, this time the waiter at the restaurant, asking me about Donald Trump.

I don't sleep well on Sunday night and even feel dizzy at one point when I have to steady myself on the door frame when I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night. What is this? Nonetheless I don't get out running on Monday morning but I bypass breakfast and go for a three hour walk (in total). This is the running path that I selected and it wouldn't have been good to run because the pavement is all broken up and narrow. I finally stop into a vegetarian restaurant and start a conversation with a guy who turns out to be from Connecticut. Finally I invite him over to my table andwe continue the conversation over lunch. He's been traveling for a few months and volunteering at building sites and growing areas and etc. As we finish lunch I give Jed m email address so we can stay in touch. Now I have no real idea where my hotel is and after a false start or two I manage to find my way back and relax in the afternoon.