Beautiful Flowers of Cuenca Ecuador + A VERY Special Return Guest!

Amelia and JP VLOG 187: If you love flowers, the summer months of January – March are a great time to visit Cuenca Ecuador! The linear parks along Cuenca’s 4 rivers are in full bloom and it’s quite the sight to see! We hope you enjoy our walk along the Yanuncay River near Tres Puentes (Three Bridges).

For beautiful photos and short video clips of Ecuador, follow us on Instagram and Facebook.

We also featured Professor Pat’s Carolina BBQ Sauce in this video. Pat and his wife Connie are long-time subscribers and patrons on Patreon who now live in Cuenca. Pat has been making his BBQ Sauce for 30 years back in the States and now sells a vegan, oil-free version of it in his new unconventional life abroad. He gave us a free jar and it’s DAMN GOOD! Muy delicioso! He also sells real, homemade vanilla extract and various spices that are hard to find in Ecuador.

And last but not least, our return guests were Mico and Asya. We featured them in a video about Mico’s Oasis Verde during our visit to Vilcabamba Ecuador: Vilcabamba Ecuador Tour + Mico’s Oasis Verde (2019). They recently moved to Cuenca to open a new, high-end fusion plant-based restaurant called El Oasis located near San Sebas. They’re planning to open sometime in March. We’re SO EXCITED!!! And we were so honored to be invited to their new home for delicious plant-based paella. It was AMAZING!!! You can follow them and track their grand opening on their Facebook Page: El Oasis Cuenca.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Keukenhof Tulip Garden Spring 2019 Amsterdam (Episode 97 – Part 4)

We hope you enjoy our tour of the amazingly beautiful Keukenhof Tulip Garden just south of Amsterdam. It’s only open for 2 months out of the year while the tulips are blooming so we were fortunate to be there during that small window on a beautiful, sunny, blue sky day.

It was a beautiful place, as you can see in the video and the photos below, and we highly recommend visiting if you’re here in the spring. However, there were a LOT of people so be prepared. We went at the worst possible time: Easter Sunday at 11AM. The best times to go are when they first open or when late in the day before they close, and on a weekday. Avoid weekends if you don’t like being elbow to elbow with other people.

Keukenhof Tulip Garden Photo Gallery

The flowers were unreal, and my camera did a good job of capturing their amazing beauty. Click to Enlarge.

Other videos in this series:

  1. Our Journey from Cuenca Ecuador to South Beach Miami – India Part 1 (Episode 94)
  2. Drama at 35,000 Feet + AirBnB Apartment Tour – India Part 2 (Episode 95)
  3. Amsterdam In Spring 2019 + Canal Tour – India Part 3 (Episode 96)

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Cuenca Ecuador Expat Pros and Cons – Part 2 (Episode 80)

Here is our Cuenca Ecuador Expat Pros and Cons list after living here over a year. This is our second top 10 list of things we love about Cuenca and a few things we don’t love so much. You can view our first top 10 list in Part 1 here: Top 10 Things We LOVE About Cuenca Ecuador + Top 5 Things We Don’t Love (Episode 71)

If you’re looking for more information about moving to Cuenca or somewhere else in Ecuador, check out our Ecuador Expat Info page with several videos and detailed blog posts.

Cuenca Ecuador Expat Pros and Cons – Part 2

#10 Very Few Bugs

Cuenca is over 8,000 feet in altitude so we don’t have a lot of bugs here. We’ve only seen a couple mosquitos in the 16 months we’ve lived in Cuenca. We do have a few flies and fruit flies, but nothing like the lower altitudes.

While spiders aren’t bugs, we do have some of those, including a tarantula that crawled in under our kitchen door. I shooed him out of the kitchen with a broom and he never came back.

#9 Low Crime Rate

Cuenca, and Ecuador in general, has a very low crime rate. Guns and ammunition are difficult to find so there aren’t a lot of violent crimes. Most crime is petty theft, especially pickpockets. However, over the past few years, the city has installed cameras in popular pickpocket spots, which has cut down on crime in those area.

There is also a strong police presence on the streets and trails around Cuenca. And they’re very friendly. We feel completely comfortable asking them for directions and they often help people cross the street safely.

Cuenca Low Crime

Ecuador’s prisons are also under occupied (only 38%), and they offer very effective rehabilitation services that have resulted in a low recidivism rate (meaning ex-convicts return to prison at much lower rates than in the US).

#8 Small Businesses

Ecuador has a form of regulated capitalism. It’s considered a social republic with a democratically elected government. That means big corporations don’t rule the country, which levels the playing field so small business can compete.

While there are some large stores here like Coral, Supermaxi, Kywi and Sukasa, they’re usually the same price as small vendors, and sometimes more expensive. For example, the small vendors at the mercados are much less expensive for fruits and veggies than Supermaxi.

It can be challenging sometimes to find the things you’re looking for, and a single item may require several trips to different areas of town, but we like supporting small businesses and don’t mind the extra walking.

#7 The Weather

Eight months out of the year, the weather in Cuenca is absolutely beautiful. It’s sunny and 70’s most of the day with an occasional brief rain shower. It seems to rain more during the night than during the day for those 8 months.

Cuenca Weather 1

Cuenca Weather 2

#6 Coffee & Chocolate

Coffee and chocolate are two of Ecuador’s primary exports. Due to its tropical climate near the equator, Ecuador is ideal for growing both of the beans used to make these food products. They also don’t need to be hyper processed and shipped around the world, so we get extra fresh versions of both and you can taste the difference. Yum!

Déjame Que te Cuente

#5 Panaderías

As vegans, we embrace unprocessed carbs from whole foods, including bread made with whole grains. Some of the bread in the panaderías (bread shops) is made with refined flour, but we usually avoid those. Instead, we buy whole grain bread from Kelbert at ArteSana.

ArteSana Kelbert

They also make fresh sourdough (made with white flour) that is amazing, but we usually buy their whole grain breads: Chia & Flax, Chia & Sesame, Rye, etc.

Artesana Sourdough

ArteSana Whole Grain Bread

Tosta is another one of our FAVORITE panaderías in Cuenca. All of their bread has as sourdough base and most of it is whole grain. ¡Su pan es muy delicioso!

Tosta Sourdough

#4 Cuenca Flower Markets

You can buy beautiful and inexpensive flowers throughout Ecuador, but there’s nothing quite like Cuenca’s world famous Flower Market. It was included in National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Outdoor Flower Markets for good reason. It’s incredibly stunning.

Cuenca Flower MarketCuenca Flower Market Cuenca Flower Market Cuenca Flower Market

#3 The Blue Crew

Cuenca is one of the cleanest cities we’ve ever seen, and that’s almost entirely due to the blue crew: Cuenca’s street cleaners. They work from before sunup to after sundown, 7 days per week to keep this city spotless and we couldn’t be more thankful for them.

Blue Crew 1

#2 No GMO’s

GMO crops are banned from Ecuador, despite heavy pressure from the US to allow them. In fact, GMO’s are prohibited in Ecuador’s constitution!

They are allowed to import GMO products like soy sauce and textured vegetable protein (TVP), but they must be clearly labeled. We really appreciate that. We would hate to see the same thing happen here in Ecuador, that is happening in India and other developing countries that made the mistake of allowing GMO crops.

GMO Soy Sauce

#1 Affordable, High-Quality Healthcare

This probably should have been on our first list of things we love about Cuenca because it was one of the main driving factors for our move from the US to Ecuador. We simply couldn’t afford healthcare for my spine back in the states.

My two surgeries cost almost 1 MILLION DOLLARS! And the insurance we have now with Amelia’s company back in Denver would only cover 40% of that after a $12,000 deductible!

Another spine surgery back in the states would bankrupt us, and I’m not willing to do that to myself and especially not to Amelia at our age.

Top 5 Things We DON’T Love About Cuenca – Part 2

#5 Lack of Punctuality

Time is a fluid, non-binding construct here in Ecuador and throughout Latin America. Their culture just doesn’t think of time the same way us Americans and Northern Europeans do. Most things rarely start on time or end on time. It has required us to learn patience and lower our expectations, which aren’t bad things for us rigid gringos.

#4 Lack of Organization and Communication

We’ve gone to events before, but were never able to find them. Signs are rarely used and people can rarely be found who know anything about what’s going on. Combined with the lack of punctuality, we’re commonly left wandering around lost, and often going home without finding the venue.

The city is also replacing the water lines in our neighborhood, so the water has been off quite often in our house since we moved in. Unfortunately, they don’t communicate the outage schedule so we have no idea when it will be off and are unable to make plans for it. We now keep jugs of water in the house so we have water to drink and so we can wash our hands.

The lack of organization and communication can be very exasperating.

#3 Public Urination

Yes. That’s a thing here. And a common one. We rarely go anywhere without seeing someone peeing behind a telephone pole or tree. We’ve even seen women squatting in plain sight of passersby. For us overly clean Americans, it’s a bit gross and uncomfortable to make eye contact with someone peeing in public.

#2 The Rainy Season

While Cuenca is beautiful 8 months out of the year, the other 4 months are dreary and damp. The rainy season starts in late April and goes through early July. That’s when the winter, cloudy season starts and ends around late August. Last year, we only saw the sun for a couple hours during that entire 4 months. I told Amelia we need to go someplace sunny for a few weeks during future rainy seasons.

#1 Sidewalk Hazards

The sidewalks throughout Ecuador are hazardous. There’s no better way to put it. From gaping holes to cut off post stumps to trash racks to slippery terracotta tiles on a steep decline, you’re literally taking your life into your own hands simply by walking on the sidewalk. It requires your constant, diligent attention.

Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 1 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 2 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 3 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 4 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 5 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 6 Cuenca Sidewalk Hazards 7

Although we do occasionally see people in wheelchairs, the city is not very handicap accessible. That’s something to consider before moving here if you’re physically challenged.

We hope our Cuenca Ecuador Expat Pros and Cons list helps to prepare you for a smooth landing here. While we love most things about living in a small Latin American country, some things still drive us crazy. If you come here with realistic expectations and understand that cultural differences can be annoying, you’ll be more likely to thrive and be happy here.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 + Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre (Episode 68)

Happy Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019!!!

Our friends Jimmy and Sharon who recently moved to Cuenca from the US requested a Valentine’s Day vlog and we were happy to oblige with this day in the life video.

I was going to make it a surprise, but I decided against it because that’s not really who we are. We’re very practical people and I would rather have Amelia pick out her favorite flowers and chocolates instead of trying to guess what she wants. And she chose flowers and chocolates that I would have never bought, so everything worked out.

We also had a very special Valentine’s Day Dinner at Café Libre in Cuenca. This was an experience we’ll remember for the rest of our lives!

The Cuenca Flower Market on Valentine’s Day 2019

The Cuenca Flower Market was PACKED with people and flowers on Valentine’s Day 2019. The explosion of colors was truly amazing and beautiful.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Cuenca Flower Market

Amelia bought some maroon lilies and white margaritas. We had never seen maroon lilies before so that’s what Amelia wanted. The margaritas have such an incredibly strong and wonderful aroma and they fill our entire house.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Cuenca Flower Market Lilies

Zatua Miski for Chocolates & Snacks

We stopped at Zatua Miski for some chocolates on our way back home from the Cuenca Flower Market. We bought a box of truffles to go.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Truffles

Since it was still early in the day and our Valentine’s Day aphrodisiac dinner at Café Libre didn’t start until 8PM, we decided to have a snack, as well. Amelia got a delicious cappuccino and I got a mango, maracuya and lemongrass smoothie.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Drinks

Then we split a delicious fruit smoothie bowl. It was the perfect amount to last us until dinner.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Zatua Miski Smoothie Bowl

See More: Day In The Life + Delicious Treats at Zatua Miski in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 46)

Aphrodisiac Dinner at Café Libre

Café Libre often has special dinners by reservation only, but this was the first one we attended. And boy are we glad we did! It was one of the most amazing dinners we’ve ever had!

Everything was timed perfectly. Paul opened the doors exactly at 8PM. They had personalized place cards on the tables directing us where to sit.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Place Card

The abreboca was delivered to the table soon after we sat down. After each course, we had just the right amount of time to let the flavors linger while we enjoyed each other’s company before the next course was delivered.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Abreboca


Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Tartar

Vegan Tartar

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Risotto

Vegan Risotto

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Dessert

Cacao y Sal Postre

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Verrine Dulce

Verrine Dulce

The surprise Final Energizante was a shot of Shilajit, which is an aged and fermented Himalayan moss that is believed to be an aphrodisiac. It tasted a bit like vegetable bouillon, but I can’t say for sure it had any affect on my libido. Thanks to my beautiful and intelligent companion, my libido always runs pretty high! ?

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Shilajit


We forgot to mention in the video that we actually had THREE desserts! The grand finale was a couple of heart shaped bon bon’s with a gooey chocolate center. YUM!!!

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Bon Bon

ALL of the courses were decadent and delicious. Vegan risotto is one of my absolute favorite dishes and Amelia about died when she tasted the Cacao y Sal postre (dessert). Paul went to each table to explain (in Spanish and English) the ingredients, preparation and significance of each course, enhancing the experience even more.

Valentine's Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Café Libre Toasting

Red Wine & Mojito

This was a TRULY special Valentine’s Day Cuenca Ecuador 2019 Dinner! Experiences like this make it hard for us to believe we live in a small city in the mountains of a small country in South America. With two glasses of wine, two mojitos, plus tip, this experience cost just $76. In the states, this would have easily cost over $200. In fact, we had a similar experience (although not nearly as special) at Planta in South Beach back in November that cost $220 with tip.

If you’re in Cuenca, Café Libre is one of the must visit restaurants.

See More: Nighttime In Cuenca + Dinner at Café Libre (Episode 34)

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador + Casa Museo de la Makana & Paute Ecuador Indigenous Mercado (Episode 66)

The Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador is a short drive from Cuenca Ecuador and a must-see if you’re an orchid lover, or if you just appreciate the beauty and variety of colorful flowers. We also enjoyed visiting Casa Museo de la Makana and the indigenous mercado in Paute Ecuador.

Check out our Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador for more fun ideas.

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador

We stopped at the Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador in a previous video, but the farm tour was closed that day. Going back for the tour has been on our list for almost a year so we were happy to return.

Ecuagenera Pink Orchid

Our video doesn’t do the orchids justice. To get the full effect of being surrounded by the vibrant colors and immersed in their strong fragrance, you really need to visit yourself. The tour was in Spanish, but we were able to understand most of what our guide said and Edwin helped us fill in the missing pieces.

We didn’t realize how much effort goes into raising orchids! Our guide told us it takes 5 years for an orchid to grow large enough to be sold, and they cost $100! They truly are an amazing flower!

Casa Museo de la Makana Gualaceo Ecuador

After we left the Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador, we went back to Casa Museo de la Makana to get the official tour from the owner, José Jiménez. He’s a celebrity in Ecuador because his picture is on billboards throughout the country advertising his the traditional indigenous makanas. Edwin was very excited to meet him!

José Jiménez Casa Museo de la Makana

When we visited last time, it was also closed but one of los hijos de José (one of Jose’s sons) gave us an impromptu tour. This time, we got to see the whole operation in full motion. Everyone was working!

Casa Museo de la Makana Billboard

El Centro y El Mercado en Paute Ecuador

After we left Casa Museo de la Makana, we asked Edwin to show us the pueblita where he lives, Paute, Ecuador. A billboard on the way into town advertising dish soap has inadvertently (I think) given the town a motto: Tierra de Buenos Esposos. This translates to Land of Good Husbands, implying the husbands help out around the house by washing dishes. We all got a good laugh about that, especially after my comment in our Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador video!

Paute Tierra de Buenos Esposos

We enjoy visiting the small towns in Ecuador because it’s like stepping back in time. Lots of people walk around the city centers, conducting their daily business, relaxing in the parks, or just living their lives.

The mercados are always a favorite attraction, too. They’re full of indigenous people selling the most beautiful looking fruits and vegetables! And, of course, wearing their traditional paja toquillas (Panama Hats).

Pauto Mercado

Amelia even bought a bag of weeds to make some traditional Horchata Tea. In fact, I’m drinking a cup right now and it’s delicious!

Horchata Tea

We’ve known about Horchata Tea for a while and drank some in a previous video when we went to San Bartolomé Ecuador, but we were kind of afraid to make it. Edwin helped us by asking for 50 cents (cincuenta centavos) of the tea plants.  He told us to take a little bit of each and steep it in hot water like we would any other tea. It was super easy to make and we’ll be having it often now.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

San Blas Cuenca Ecuador + Delicious Lunch @ A Pedir de Boca (Episode 28)

We love walking around Cuenca Ecuador on Sundays because the city is so quiet. Most of the stores are closed on Sunday and there usually aren’t very many people so it’s the perfect day to take a stroll and enjoy the beautiful scenery. In this day in the life video, we walked through El Centro to San Blas Cuenca after enjoying a delicious lunch at A Pedir de Boca.

A Pedir de Boca Cuenca

On our way to the world famous Cuenca Flower Market, we stopped by one of our favorite lunch spots, A Pedir de Boca. They have an amazing oil-free Vegan Thai Noodle Bowl with Veggies that is absolutely incredible!

A Pedir de Boca Cuenca Ecuador

They also have a delicious Veganburger that Amelia tried on a more recent visit that’s made with quinoa and they have a vegan soup that’s visually stunning. We highly recommend A Pedir de Boca for a delicious and filling lunch!

El Centro Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca, and Ecuador in general, is home to a lot of very old people. For a time, a region in southern Ecuador was considered a Blue Zone due to the large number of extremely old people, but lack of good recordkeeping a hundred years ago meant they couldn’t be included. However, we commonly see some of the oldest people we’ve ever seen still working and walking around the city in seemingly perfect health.

The “abuelita” seen in the video is one example. The other vendors in the area were very excited that we wanted to video and photograph her. They called her abuelita, which means “little grandma” in Spanish. She is probably in her 90’s, but it’s hard to tell for sure because Ecuadorians in general tend to look about 10 years younger than their American counterparts. She was selling little colorful baskets and Amelia bought some to store her earrings y otras cositas (and other little things).

Cuenca Ecuador Abuelita

A stroll through El Centro wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Cuenca Flower Market.

Cuenca Flower Market Ecuador

San Blas Cuenca Ecuador

You can see the San Blas Church all the way from Parque Calderon. This was the first time we walked down from Parque Calderon to get a closer look at San Blas Cuenca.

San Blas Church Cuenca Ecuador

San Blas Church Clouds Cuenca Ecuador

Across the street from San Blas Church is Parque San Blas. The park has a beautiful fountain, flowering trees, children playing and people relaxing on park benches.

San Blas Cuenca Ecuador San Blas Cuenca Ecuador Amelia

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias!

Cuenca Flower Market + Fresh Tea & Cold Beer in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 20)

Today we did another one of our Sunday afternoon city walking tours. On our way to the Cuenca Flower Market, we stopped by Télicioso Tea Room to get some of our favorite tea.

Then, after we bought Amelia some new earrings and some beautiful flowers at the flower market, we went to Simón for some papas fritas y cervezas (we recorded this in March 2018 before I realized I still had high cholesterol).

People & Places

Télicioso Tea Room on Calle Larga in Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia read an article stating that most commercial tea bags contain plastic, so she decided for our health and the environment, we would start making our tea from fresh tea leaves.

We first went to Sukasa to get a teapot. It’s a very “American” store located in Gringolandia. We’ll do a video of Sukasa and the surrounding area at some point. Gringolandia is the area where most of the older gringos live in Cuenca.

The next stop after we acquired our new teapot was Télicioso Tea Room. It’s located next door to Café Libre, one of our favorite plant-based, vegan restaurants in Cuenca. Télicioso has a wonderful assortment of fresh tea leaves.

Telicioso Tea Room Cuenca Ecuador

The owner, Katherine, speaks fluent english and is very knowledgeable about tea. She has some of the same flavors and a few new ones each time.

Telicioso Owner Cuenca Ecuador

You can reuse your tea bags so be sure to take them with you. She’ll also tell you how to measure the tea and how much to use of each kind.

Telicioso Owner Tea Bag Cuenca Ecuador

While you’re waiting, you can channel your inner child and enjoy a little swing time like Amelia is doing in this photo.

Teliciouso Swing Cuenca Ecuador

Cuenca Flower Market – Cuenca Ecuador

One of our favorite places to visit in Cuenca is the Flower Market located across the street from the New Cathedral. It’s so beautiful that it topped the worldwide list of National Geographic’s Top 10 Outdoor Flower Markets. It truly is breathtaking.

Cuenca Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Many of the booths at the Cuenca Flower Market are run by indigenous Ecuadorian women adorned in their traditional garb as you can see in the video. But many of the younger women wear western style clothes consisting of jeans and long sleeve t-shirts, like the woman in this photo.

Cuenca Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

You can buy all sorts of flowers by the bundle or in premade arrangements at the Cuenca Flower Market. The women who work at the market are always busy making new arrangements, but they’re eager to help you pick out the perfect flowers for your home or special occasion.

Cuenca Flower Market Cuenca Ecuador

Ecuador is the world’s third largest exporter of cut flowers and they’re incredibly abundant here…and reasonably priced. A dozen roses typically cost less than $5, and they’re ridiculously beautiful. The buds are huge and they’ll last for as long as two weeks. Place them in a central location in your house and their aroma will welcome you home when you open the door.

The lilies that Amelia bought in the video also smelled fantastic. We could smell them all over the house! That bundle cost us $8, which is more than we usually spend on flowers, but they were also more exotic than the roses we usually buy. On the day we went, the roses looked a little wilted so we opted to try something new.

A lot of street entertainers gather near the New Cathedral and the Cuenca Flower Market, like this father/daughter duo. You have to watch the video if you haven’t already. Her little dance is ADORABLE!!!

Daughter & Father Playing Music Cuenca Ecuador

Simón Restaurant

When we visited Ecuador on our exploratory trip, Simón was the very first restaurant we tried for dinner. They don’t have much in the way of vegan options, but they do have a delicious vegetable soup and a vegetarian panini that can be veganized by leaving off the queso y mayonesa (cheese and mayo).

Simón Cuenca Ecuador

They also have some of the best papas fritas (french fries) in all of Cuenca. Most of the papas fritas are pan fried in Ecuador, rather than deep fried. That means they aren’t nearly as oily. Plus, the papas are far more delicious here, which means the fries are muy delicioso.

We know these aren’t healthy, and neither is the beer, but we’re not perfect. We eat a whole-food plant-based no-oil (WFPBNO) diet at home, but we like to enjoy some delicious papas fritas and cold beers on occasion (at least we used to before we found out about my high cholesterol). It probably looks like we enjoy it more than we actually do since we tend to record videos when we go out to restaurants, but these are (were) a rare treat for us.

Besides, we want to show people that you can still enjoy your favorite food and drinks, and still be vegan. Our friend Rosy from Fratello Vegan verified that all of the Club beers, as well as Pilsener beers, are vegan…so bottoms up!

Simón Papas Fritas Cuenca Ecuador

Every place we’ve ordered papas fritas in Ecuador serves them with mayonesa, and most of the time it’s in a small condiment bowl. That means it probably (hopefully) gets thrown out when we don’t eat it.

Rather than waste it, we order our papas fritas “sin mayonesa” (without mayo). The server always looks at us funny and usually still brings it anyway, but at least we try not to be wasteful.

Cuenca Planetarium

Cuenca’s Planetario is located in Parque de la Madre. We haven’t been inside yet, but the outside looks cool. They just finished giving it a fresh coat of Martian red. We’ll take you inside someday.

This photo was taken pre-paint job, but I thought it looked out-of-this-world with the crazy clouds mixed with blue sky behind the dome and the guy sitting on top of it. The bottom of that ladder wasn’t touching anything. It was tied to the top of the dome with a rope and dangled alongside while the guys climbed on it to strip the old paint and then repaint it.

Planetarium Cuenca Ecuador

They must not have OSHA here because we’ve seen some pretty crazy behavior from construction workers. While walking home one day, I saw a construction worker standing on top of a brick wall two stories high hitting the bricks under his feet with a sledgehammer to knock them loose. He then bent over, picked up the bricks and threw them down into a dump truck parked on the sidewalk below…all while balancing on a wall no wider than 5 inches! ¡Fue muy loco! (He was very crazy!)

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our visit to the Cuenca Flower Market, Télicioso and Simón today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel to help us spread the word about veganism. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

See More of Cuenca Ecuador

Spanish Words & Phrases

hola – hi/hello
¿Cómo están? – How are you?
Bien. ¿Cuál es su nombre? – Well. What is your name?
Bienvenidos a mi sala de té. – Welcome to my tea room.
Veinti tazas – Twenty cups
Necesitamos practicar mucho. – We need to practice a lot.
Naranja, jengibre y manzana té – Orange, ginger and apple tea
Algunas flores – Some flowers
Veinte dólores – Twenty dollars
¿Cuál es el nombre? – What is the name?
Los lilios – The lilies (the spanish word is spelled lirios, but lots of words are different here in Cuenca and in Ecuador)
Tengo hambre – I’m hungry
La macana – the scarf (this is a Cañari word, the language of the indigenous people)
Papas fritas y dos cervezas – French fries and two beers
Sin mayonesa – Without mayonnaise
Salsa de tomate – Ketchup

Unbelievable Orchids in Gualaceo Ecuador + Handmade Macanas (Episode 17/Part 3)

For our first tourist-y excursion since we’ve been in Cuenca Ecuador, we took a trip east of town to three different artisan villages: San Bartolomé, Chordeleg and Gualaceo. This video covers the third town of Gualaceo Ecuador, which is famous for its orchids and textiles.

Be sure to check out our other videos from this excursion to San Bartolomé Ecuador (Part 1) and Chordeleg Ecuador (Part 2).

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful Andean scenery, the picturesque town of Gualaceo, and the interesting people we meet along the way. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

People & Places

Bridge Over the River in Gualaceo Ecuador

Wood Bridge Gualaceo Ecuador

Our guide, Wilson, assured us this rickety looking one lane bridge over the river was perfectly safe. I’m pretty sure it was older than it looked, and it looked ancient. Nevertheless, we did survive the crossing that’s used by lots of cars, people and dogs on a daily basis.

Cañari Indigenous Woman in Gualaceo Ecuador

Woman in Gualaceo Ecuador

I captured this Cañari indigenous woman walking down the street with her navy blue plaid macana draped over her shoulder. They were the originators of the Panama Hat, and still wear them along with their colorful skirts and sweaters.

This woman is probably a little more than 4 feet tall. The average height of women in Ecuador is only 5 feet, but most of the indigenous women are much shorter than that. Amelia, at 5 feet tall, is a giant standing next to them!

Rosero – The Traditional Drink of Gualaceo Ecuador

Rosero Gualaceo Ecuador

Rosero is the traditional drink that’s only found in Gualaceo Ecuador. It’s made with corn flower, fruits and spices. It has a thick, creamy texture like a smoothie and it’s a little sweet, but not too sweet. We enjoyed it with a piece of bread.

Both pieces of bread and both cups of Rosero cost us a total of $1.30 and they were well worth it. Both were delicious!

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm in Gualaceo Ecuador

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador

Ecuador is famous worldwide for its orchids, especially the high altitude orchids that grow in Gualaceo. Ecuagenera is an orchid farm on the edge of Gualaceo that offers tours of the farm, but the tour was closed on Sunday. We did get to enjoy the store, though.

It’s impossible to describe how wonderful the store smelled when we walked in. I didn’t realize how amazingly beautiful and aromatic orchids are. Some smelled like extremely potent flowers, some smelled like chocolate, and some smelled like rotting meat. They seemed otherworldly. Now I understand why orchids have such a huge fanbase.

Here are some pictures of the orchids we saw:

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 4

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 2

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 3

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 5

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 6

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 7

We’re looking forward to returning when the tour is open so we can see the whole farm and learn more about orchids. We highly recommend stopping by to experience this truly remarkable flower.

Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Entering the workshop where they make macanas, the traditional scarves of the Cañari Ecuadorian women, was like stepping back in time. The indigenous people have been making macanas in this way for over 1,000 years (more than 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue), passing the trade down from generation to generation.

Like the guitar and ceramic artisans, this is also a dying trade. The current generation is losing interest in the family tradition and moving away in hopes of finding better opportunities in Cuenca and beyond.

Macana Color Dye Pots in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Color Dye Pots Gualaceo Ecuador

These ancient pots are still used to make the dyes that give each macana its unique and colorful look. In this photo, the artisan is demonstrating how they make the color indigo from indigofera plants found in abundance in tropical climates like Ecuador.

They use all sorts of native plants, rocks and even baking soda to create every color in the rainbow.

View from Macana Workshop in Gualaceo Ecuador

View from Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Since the climate is so temperate and consistent in Ecuador (at least it used to be), many places don’t have windows or doors like this macana workshop. This is the view from the device being used in the next photo.

That may look like a river running down the valley, but those are actually greenhouses for roses. Ecuador is the world’s 3 largest exporter of cut flowers, and roses make up over 70% of those exports.

Ecuador has the perfect year round climate for growing beautiful flowers, which are very inexpensive here. We nearly always have one or two dozen roses in the house, and they cost only $5 per dozen.

Macana Weaving in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Weaving Gualaceo Ecuador

The men have traditionally been the weavers of macanas because it takes a lot of body weight to get the weave taught. The women do the embroidery and a finishing technique called “nailing,” which requires long fingernails to add the loosely woven decoration to the ends of the macanas.

Macana Yapa in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Yapa Gualaceo Ecuador

Amelia was very happy to receive this handwoven bag as a yapa with the purchase of her handwoven macana, shown below. A yapa is a little something extra that merchants give to customers as a sign of appreciation. Think of it like a baker’s dozen. We often get yapas at the mercado in the form of extra fruits and veggies from our favorite vendors.

Amelia’s Macana from Gualaceo Ecuador

Amelia's Macana from Gualaceo Ecuador

It seems like Amelia is either hot or cold these days so she was happy to get this beautiful handwoven macana for the cold times.

The indigenous women use these to keep warm, to protect their skin and heads from the hot mountain sun, to carry their babies and to tote heavy or bulky items, like fresh produce, straw, cardboard boxes, etc. I’ve even seen a woman carrying a 6 foot tall tree on her back wrapped in a macana!

It’s common to see a teenager walking down the sidewalk scrolling Facebook on their mobile phone, while passing an indigenous woman carrying her baby on her back wrapped in a macana. With the blend of modern and ancient visible on every street, Ecuador is a truly remarkable place that seems to exist outside of time.

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Spanish Words & Phrases

¿Cómo se llama? – What is your name?
Mucho gusto – Nice to meet you
El gusto es mío – The pleasure is mine
El Jardín Del Azuay – The Garden of Azuay (Province)
el puente – the bridge
pan – bread
me gusta – I like it
el algodón – the cotton
yapa – a little something extra (think baker’s dozen)