Equador - Cuenca. Gringo conversations and gelato fueled walkabouts

Standing atop Handies Peak seems like strangely a long time ago as I just dropped into Cuenca, Ecuador to settle in for a bit and try to become less of a gringo in the hopes of having more meaningful conversations with those throughout Latin America.

As a UNESCO World Heritage Trust site, Cuenca has a fantastic vibe to it with a wonderful series of religious and non-religious buildings, plazas lined with locals, tourists and vendors, beautiful cobble streets and a cool laid back charm and many smiley faces worthy of an extended stay.

My first few days I wandered the streets with not much direction other than taking in all of the plazas and eating my height in gelato. Parque de Calderon, home to both La Cathedral Nueva and La Cathedral Vieja served up many bench hours watching the city breathe.   

Spanish Colonial architecture abounds with a handful of gems throughout the historic center

that serve as a perfect backdrop for the daily micro economies.

The Internationalists snuck in a few wonderful Bunshaftian moments Equador style

and a sprinkle of Loos.

And of course culturally charged graffiti is everywhere throughout all corners of the city

and is well worth the effort to wander through all of the less traveled connective tissue.

One of my favorites - just simple thought provoking semantics.  adios dios or dios? Or, maybe I've been reading and listening to too much Alan Watts...

One of the quieter plazas on the western edge of the center is the Plaza de San Sebastian - less touristy than Parque de Calderone and home to the Museo de Arte Moderno and the Church of San Sebastian.

The Museo is well worth the trip just for the building itself.  Three manicured courtyards link together a series of small white washed rooms housing frequently rotating exhibits.  

Originally built as a temperance house, it later became a jail and then an orphanage until Ecuadorian President Luis Crespo Ordóñez spearheaded turning it into the museum.

Anchoring the prime pedestrian corner of the plaza is Jodoco, a great small Belgium brewery serving up a few hand crafted Belgium beers, small food bites and a welcoming vibe.  A few chuckles were had as I busted out my Spanish for Dummies...

The city comes alive at night as break-dancers, hawkers and police bands keep everyone entertained and smiling under the beautifully lit church spires.  A small sampling of Cuenca with more to come as I get down to business...