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A Hike Up the 439 Turi Church Steps + Mall Del Río & Feria Mascotas in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 5)

Today, we decided to hike up the 439 stairs to the Turi Church again here in Cuenca Ecuador, just for exercise (yes, I also think Amelia is trying to kill me!).

Then we circled around to Mall del Río where we went shopping for a new pair of shoes for me, but we bought Amelia new shoes and shirts, instead. Then we went to Parque El Paraíso for the Feria Mascotas (Pet Fair).

People & Places (and Animals)

Turi Church Steps Cuenca Ecuador

Turi Church Steps Cuenca Ecuador

We like to hike up the 439 Turi Church steps mainly for exercise, but the views are also incredible. Check out our other Turi Church Hike in Cuenca Ecuador for more info on Turi and more beautiful scenery.

Recoja el Excremento De Su Mascota

Recoja el Excremento Cuenca Ecuador

This sign reads “recoja el excremento de su mascota” which literally translates to “pick up your pet’s excrement” but a more accurate translation would be “pick up your dog’s poop.”

These signs instructing people to pick up after their pets are in most parks, but they don’t provide poo bags, so remember to bring your own.

Río Yanuncay – Cuenca Ecuador

Yanuncay River Cuenca Ecuador

There are 5 (yes, I was right) ríos or rivers that run through Cuenca: Tomebamba, Yanuncay, Tarqui, Milchichig and Machangara. The Tarqui runs into the Yanuncay. Then the Yanuncay, Milchichig and Machangara all feed the Tomebamba river. The Tomebamba river joins other rivers in Ecuador, and eventually feeds the Amazon River that leads to the Atlantic Ocean over a course that’s nearly 4,000 miles long.

Río Tarqui – Cuenca Ecuador

Tarqui River Cuenca Ecuador

The Tarqui River joins the Yanuncay River not far east from where Amelia is standing. Then the Yanuncay River meets the Tomebamba River on the easternmost end of Parque El Paraíso.

Tarqui River Park

Tarqui River Park Cuenca Ecuador

I’m not sure what the name of this park is, but it’s right next to the Tarqui River. Cuenca has a lot of these types of beautiful statues/art in their parks.

Shopping & Offices

Veinticuatro de Mayo Shopping & Offices Cuenca Ecuador

There are a lot of new developments around Cuenca, despite a tax law passed by the former president, Correa, that nearly killed the construction industry in Ecuador. The new president, Moreno, had a special referendum and the people overwhelmingly voted to remove the tax and now construction is expected to resume.

As a result of the decreased construction over the past few years, there is a major housing shortage in Ecuador, and especially, Cuenca. Due to the shortage of supply and increased demand, the cost of both homes for rent and for sale has increased. This has forced thousands of young people in Cuenca to continue living with their parents, even after they get married and have children. They’re hopeful that more housing construction will increase the supply and decrease the cost.

Gato Raro (Rare Cat)

Street Cat Cuenca Ecuador

There are cats in Ecuador, but they’re not nearly as common as dogs. We rarely see cats on the street, most likely because of the abundance of dogs that roam the streets looking for food. It’s reasonable to assume street cats don’t have a long life expectancy here….

Roundabouts Galore in Ecuador

Panamericana Highway Roundabout Cuenca Ecuador

Los redondeles or roundabouts are far more common here than in the states. The majority of major intersections are roundabouts, and they’re also common in the middle of highways, like this one in the Panamerican Highway.

Stop signs also seem to be completely optional here. “Pare” means stop, but very few people stopped at this one. As you can see in the video, the silver truck blew through it at about 50 mph!

Turi Church Steps Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia Turi Church Steps Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia loves to torture me with exercise, especially the Turi Church steps. There are 439 steps up to the Turi Church and I always spend most of it looking at her backside. Thankfully, it’s a nice view 😁

It’s a tough hike, but the views are amazing!

Turi Church (La Iglesia de Turi) – Cuenca Ecuador

Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

The bells were ringing when we reached the top of the Turi Church steps, as you can hear in the video. The Turi Church can be seen from most places in the city below, but it’s even more spectacular up close.

View from the Turi Church Steps

View from Turi Church Cuenca Ecuador

This is the reward when you reach the top of the Turi Church steps. You can see the New Cathedral off in the distance, and the Cuenca airport is barely visible on the upper right of the photo. The road that runs diagonally up the middle of the photo is Avenida Solano.

Ancient Riverbed Far Above Cuenca Ecuador

Riverbed Far Above Cuenca Ecuador

Walking along Av Mirador de Turi heading west from the Turi Church, we spotted this ancient riverbed that’s about 400 feet above the main city of Cuenca. It’s fascinating to see this so far up the side of a mountain.

Laundry Day Cuenca Ecuador

Laundry Day Cuenca Ecuador

Ecuadorians love their dogs and hanging their laundry out to dry. Sunday seems to be a common laundry day here, and everything from towels to bras can be seen waving in the breeze in front, behind or on top of people’s houses.

Wonder Woman Billboard

Wonder Woman Billboard Cuenca Ecuador

Av Mirador de Turi meets back up with the Panamerican Highway, which took us to Mall del Río. There are lots of billboards along the highways in Ecuador, and many advertise American brands.

This billboard is an ad for Justice League and reads “La Mujer Maravilla Se Ve Mejor En Una Televisión TCL” which translates to “Wonder Woman looks better on a TCL television.” TCL is an electronics company that sells TVs so this appears to be a cross-promotional ad for the Justice League movie and TCL televisions.

This is our first time living abroad so it’s interesting to see America from outside the states. One thing we have noticed is the abundance of American pop culture here. It seems that entertainment (and fast food) is now America’s biggest export, especially since most manufactured things come from China.

We visited Nectar, one of our favorite tiendas in El Centro, and the owner’s daughter was wearing a tiara on her head and empty toilet paper rings around both wrists. I asked who she was and her dad said she was La Mujer Maravilla or Wonder Woman. I’m not sure why, but it was surprising to see a little girl in the middle of Ecuador dressed up as Wonder Woman.

Mall del Río – Cuenca Ecuador

Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

Mall del Río is one of the major malls in Cuenca. It has everything you’d expect to see in a mall in the states: a food court, electronics stores and lots of upscale clothing stores. Since online shopping isn’t a thing here yet, malls and shopping centers are still very popular.

Eddie Bauer in Mall del Río – Cuenca Ecuador

Eddie Bauer in Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

American brands like Eddie Bauer are common here, although most of the products come from China. We’ve found the prices to be similar on most things: Some prices are higher, some are lower and some are about the same.

If you want higher quality clothing, you’ll need to go to a nicer store and you’ll spend more. But there are lots of nice and affordable products that are made in Ecuador, too.

Mall del Río Food Court

Mall del Rio Food Court Cuenca Ecuador

The food court in Mall del Río has all the American fast food joints you’d recognize, including McDonald’s, Burger King and KFC. Ecuador has seen a massive increase in health related illnesses like obesity and diabetes over the past decade, and these are no doubt contributing to it. We haven’t seen anything vegan-friendly in the food court aside from salads at the fast food places.

Coral in Mall del Río

Mall del Rio Coral Cuenca Ecuador

You can barely see the store in this photo, but Coral is located on the far end of the mall. It’s the largest store in the mall, and possibly in Cuenca. It’s like a Super Walmart crossed with a Home Depot. They carry everything from food and clothing, to microwaves and bathtubs. We’ll show you the inside on a future video.

Amelia’s New Shirt from Divad Closet in Mall del Río

Amelia's New Shirt from Divad Closet in Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

We went to mall to find a new pair of walking shoes for me, but we struck out on that. However, Amelia found a pair of shoes (los zapatos) and a couple blouses (las blusas).

Since we’ve been here, both of us have lost so much weight that none of our clothes fit properly…and we didn’t have that much weight to lose! We ate a healthy plant-based diet and walked a lot back in Denver, but the food is different here and we walk even more.

They don’t allow GMO’s so they don’t have RoundUp and a lot of the produce is organic and from ancient seeds that haven’t been modified genetically.

The veggies are ugly as hell, but they taste amazing. They’re full of flavor and juiciness like the fruits and veggies we used to have as a kid back in the 70’s and 80’s before food was ruined in the states by Big Ag and government corruption.

We also walk a lot more here than we did back home, over 10,000 steps on a typical day. Some weekends, we clock over 20 miles walking around town, taking Daisy for a walk and walking up to Turi.

And we go to the gym most weekdays. I mainly go to the gym for physical therapy for my back, which I couldn’t afford in the states. Amelia goes because she loves working out and sweating her ass off.

All of this healthy eating and exercise has trimmed a few inches off our waistlines, which means we need new clothes.

C-3PO Shoes from Divad Closet in Mall del Río

C-3PO Shoes from Divad Closet in Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

Bright, shiny platform shoes, like Amelia’s new gold C-3PO shoes, are very popular here. Since the average height for a female in Ecuador is 5 feet tall, platform shoes give them a few extra inches.

Some of the platform shoes have high heels (what we call stripper shoes back in the states) adding 5 or 6 inches to their height! It’s common to see women walking down cobblestone sidewalks and streets in 5 inch stiletto platform shoes! I don’t know how they do it without falling!

Divad Closet Faux Fur in Mall del Río

Divad Closet Faux Fur in Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

We have found a lot of cruelty-free products here, from cosmetics to clothing. Veganism is growing here, and most people are at least aware of animal cruelty issues in the products they buy.

When it comes up that we are vegan, several Ecuadorians (a cab driver, a tour guide, a business owner, a waiter, etc.) have asked us if we’re healthier now. Not one Ecuadorian has asked us where we get our protein.

In the states, we’ve been programmed through corporate junk science, overt marketing messages, and subtle plugs on the news and in entertainment, that a vegan diet is unhealthy. That you won’t get enough nutrients eating only plants. That you’ll die of an unheard of protein deficiency.

But here, in a developing country in South America, they haven’t been brainwashed and manipulated for corporate greed. And they know more about nutrition than the average American who thinks they know everything.

Our Sales Assistant at Divad Closet in Mall del Río

Divad Closet Assistant in Mall del Rio Cuenca Ecuador

This delightful young woman helped Amelia with her shopping at Divad Closet. She didn’t speak very much English, so I was able to practice my Spanish with her while Amelia was trying on clothes.

Like so many of the people we meet in Cuenca, she is from Venezuela. Another refugee from a corrupt government and a collapsing society. She has been in Cuenca for over 6 months. Ecuador is now home to thousands of Venezuelan refugees.

There is a difference between the Venezuelan accent and the Cuencano accent, which is different from other parts of Ecuador. The Venezuelan accent is closer to an accent you would hear in Spain. They speak with a bit of a lisp and pronounce some words differently than Ecuadorians.

The Cuencano accent is very melodic. Ecuadorians outside Cuenca say it sounds like they are singing, and it does. The Cuencano accent is very beautiful, and reminds me of a French accent.

People from the coast of Ecuador drop consonants from the end of words, making it very difficult to understand for gringos learning Spanish. Since Cuencanos speak more slowly and melodically than other Ecuadorians and South Americans, this is the perfect place to learn spanish.

Trail to Parque El Paraíso – Cuenca Ecuador

Trail to Parque El Paraíso Cuenca Ecuador

There are LOTS of walking trails in Cuenca. This one runs along Avenida Diez de Agosto and leads to Parque El Paraíso, our favorite park in Cuenca. The Yanuncay river is behind the trees on the right side of this photo.

Feria Mascotas at Parque El Paraíso

Feria Mascotas at Parque El Paraíso in Cuenca Ecuador

It seems like everyone has a dog in Ecuador. Multiple dogs in most cases. When we take Daisy for a walk around our neighborhood, nearly every yard and courtyard has one or more dogs that bark at us.

This pet fair was mainly for dogs, but we saw a couple of cat oriented booths, as well. It was packed with people and dogs, which made Daisy (and me) very nervous. We knew a woman that was running one of the fundraiser booths, but there were so many people we couldn’t get in to see her.

Pet Adoption at Feria Mascotas in Parque Paraíso

Feria Mascotas Adoption at Parque El Paraíso in Cuenca Ecuador

Several booths had pets available for adoption. The sign in this photo reads, “La adopción es la mejor opción” which translates to “Adoption is the best option.”

There’s a big push here to adopt pets from the numerous shelters around town, but there are still several puppy mill stores. We cringe every time we walk by one.

It was nice to see so many people supporting responsible pet companionship, but it was just too crowded for us, so we left after 10 or 15 minutes.

See More: Cuenca Parks

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We hope you enjoyed our hike up the Turi Church steps, our shopping experience at Mall del Río, and Feria Mascotas in Cuenca, Ecuador today.

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Spanish Words & Phrase

Recoja el excremento de su mascota – Pick up your pet’s excrement
el río – the river
el gato – the cat
los redondeles – the roundabouts
pare – stop
Mall del Río – Mall of the River
La Mujer Maravilla Se Ve Mejor En Una Televisión – Wonder Woman looks better on television
..en el mall siempre encuentras moda actual – ..in the mall you always find current fashion
comida rapida – fast food
la blusa – the blouse
los zapatos – the shoes
gordo – fat
la casa – the house
Feria de Mascotas – Pet Fair
la adopción es la mejor opción – adoption is the best option