Bumba Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador + Tour of El Centro & Lunch at Café Libre (Episode 1)

Today, we went to the Bumba Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador before venturing onward to a popup outdoor textiles market and then to lunch at plant-based Café Libre restaurant in Cuenca.

We love to visit the artisanal markets like the Bumba Popup Market for fresh, organic, delicious, locally sourced vegan foods.

People & Places (and Animals)

The Roundabout at Av Solano y Remigio Crespo Toral

Av Solano y Av Remigio Crespo Toral Cuenca Ecuador

In this photo, Amelia and I are playing Frogger at a busy intersection in Cuenca near the fútbol (soccer) stadium, Estadio Alejandro Serrano Aguilar, where the Club Deportivo Cuenca plays (that’s Cuenca’s local fútbol team).

In Ecuador, pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. The pecking order from top to bottom is Busses, Taxis, Cars/Trucks, Motorcycles, Dogs and then Humans.

Drivers don’t stop for pedestrians. In fact, we’ve noticed a lot of drivers speed up when pedestrians are trying to cross the street. It seems very odd to us since everyone is a pedestrian at some point in this highly walkable city, and the Ecuadorian people are very tranquilo (calm and nice)…unless they’re driving.

We have seen a few elder Ecuadorians step out into traffic with their arm outstretched in a “stop” gesture and cars come to a screeching halt for them, but I’m not sure that works for young people or gringos. Amelia and I have been too scared to try it.

Having grown up in the fast-paced United States, Amelia and I are fast walkers (like a lot of the gringos who live here). However, unlike us gringos, Ecuadorians are very tranquilo when walking so it’s common for us to experience mild irritation when walking behind people who are strolling on Monday morning like it’s Sunday afternoon. But when they’re behind the wheel of a car, normal tranquilo Ecuadorians turn into NYC taxi cab drivers with only two speeds: stop and fast.

Please, be careful when crossing the street.

Colegio Benigno Malo

Colegio Benigno Malo Cuenca Ecuador

Colegio Benigno Malo is beautiful high school in Cuenca, Ecuador. It has a French neoclassical architecture and was built in 1923.

Students in most of Ecuador’s schools wear uniforms and this one is no different. On most days, the students wear navy blue slacks and a white polo shirt, but on some days, they dress up in skirts and sport coats.

Bumba Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador

Bumba Popup Market Cuenca Ecuador

Bumba Fruits & Beer is a popular Ecuadorian hangout with a great view of the Tomebamba river. The Bumba Artisanal Market is also a big hit with gringos and Ecuadorians alike. Follow Bumba’s Facebook page and keep an eye out on GringoPost for the Bumba Popup Market dates and times.

Rio Tomebamba

Rio Tomebamba Cuenca Ecuador

This is one of the main rivers that runs through Cuenca on the edge of El Centro (the center). It divides the old city and the new(er) city. The Bumba Popup Market is located next to the river, as you can see in the video.

Kelbert from ArteSana

Kelvert from ArteSana Cuenca Ecuador

We visit Kelbert from ArteSana Panadería y Pastelería (ArteSana Bakery and Pastry/Cakery/Cake Shop) at least once and sometimes twice per week. His wife bakes fresh vegan bread with all natural ingredients and Kelvert sells it (and washes the dishes!).

Kelbert also helps us with our Spanish and enjoys teaching us new words like “estaba haciendo ejercicio,” which means “I was exercising.” He sells bread on Tuesday and Thursday at a restaurant next to our gym so it’s super convenient to pick some up on my way home.

Sourdough from ArteSana

ArteSana Sourdough Bread Cuenca Ecuador

Our favorite bread from ArteSana is their sourdough. We have to ration ourselves or we can eat a whole loaf in a day!

The New Cathedral

The New Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

The New Cathedral of Cuenca is the largest cathedral in Ecuador and the blue domes help give Cuenca its amazing skyline.

Even though this is referred to as the “new” cathedral, construction began in 1885. That’s over 130 years ago! But it’s still newer than the “old” cathedral (see below).

Marisól at the Popup Mercado Next to the New Cathedral

Marisól at The New Cathedral Popup Market Cuenca Ecuador

We’ve visited Marisól before. She sells some very nice sweaters and scarves (bufandas) at the popup market that appears most weekends and holidays. The market has lots of different types of clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys and food.

The Old Cathedral of Cuenca

The Old Cathedral Cuenca Ecuador

La Catedral Antigua de Cuenca or The Old Cathedral of Cuenca was built in 1557, making it over 460 years old. That’s more than 300 years older than the “new” cathedral (see above).

It currently serves as a museum of religious art. I suppose we should venture inside someday, but that’s not really our cup of tea. We’ve seen some of Ecuador’s religious art, and it can be brutal and gory. The Spaniards used religion as a tool of fear and control after they invaded South America, which is reflected in the religious art of the time.

Parque Calderón

Parque Calderón El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

Situated between The New Cathedral and The Old Cathedral, Parque Calderón is a beautiful city park and a popular destination for tourists and locals, alike. We’ll share more details about this park in a future video.

La Iglesia de San Alfonso

La Iglesia de San Alfonso El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

The original smaller La Iglesia de San Alfonso was completed in 1894, but the larger extension shown here was completed in 1911. The designer of the new extension was Huesgen Ziegelmeir, a German architect, which explains why this church looks like something you’d see in Germany rather than South America.

Café Libre Plant-Based Vegan Restaurant

Café Libre Plant-Based Restaurant Cuenca Ecuador

Café Libre is one of my favorite restaurants in Cuenca.  It was also recently voted the “Best New Restaurant in Cuenca” by the popular Ecuadorian website, GringPost.com.

Considering it’s a plant-based restaurant without any meat on its menu, that says a lot about the quality of the food. Not only does it taste delicious, but the presentation is always picture worthy.

If you’re in Cuenca, you must try this restaurant and tell Paul, the co-owner, that Amelia and JP sent you. While you’re there, if it’s not too busy, ask Paul to tell you the story about how Café Libre came to be. It’s very interesting.

Jack’n Jack Gua Bao (BBQ Jackfruit) at Café Libre

Café Libre BBQ Jackfruit Cuenca Ecuador

This is one of my favorite dishes and I order it regularly. It’s BBQ Jackfruit that Paul sources from Guayaquil. It’s served on a vegan Bao Bun, which is a type of bread that’s steamed instead of baked, making it very soft and doughy. It comes with a side salad and either housemade papas fritas (french fries) or chips (shown here).

Curry Curry Curry at Café Libre

Café Libre Curry Curry Curry Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia ordered this plato principal (main dish) for the first time today and she loved it. As the name implies, or rather, explicitly states, it’s a curry dish with tons of flavor and a variety of colors and textures. It was served with a side of fresh avocado topped with some rock salt and cracked pepper. Yum!

Parque de la Madre

Parque de la Madre Cuenca Ecuador

Parque de la Madre is one of the most popular parks in the city and it’s centrally located between the old El Centro and the newer part of the city to the south. There are always lots of children playing (you can hear the soothing sounds in the video) and adults exercising, playing basketball, talking and relaxing. We’ve even seen running groups and concerts there.

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our adventure through Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment, share and subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

el centro – the center
el rio – the river
panadería – bakery
pastelería – pastry/cake shop
¿Te gusta la bufanda? – Do you like the scarf?
Sí, mucho. – Yes, a lot.
¿Cómo se llama? –  What is your name?
Catedral Antigua de Cuenca – The Old Cathedral of Cuenca
Parque Calderón – Calderón Park
Parque de la Madre – Mother’s Park
Canton – area of land referred to as a county in the US
los aretes – the earrings
estaba haciendo ejercicio – I was exercising

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