¡Hola! Welcome back to another #MountMartes blog post of my time in Cuenca, Ecuador. Last week was our first week of classes at the University of Cuenca, and we got to explore all the city has to offer.
One of the first things we did as a group in Cuenca was see the Eduardo Vega Art Gallery, where we were able to purchase some of his ceramics. Eduardo Vega is a very popular ceramics artist from Cuenca who makes Ecuadorian-inspired art. Some of his work had different animals, plants, or landmarks that are unique to Cuenca. For example, he had plaques made with cacao and maize painted onto them. He had many different types of birds on plaques, plates, and mugs, like the Toucan, Condor, and Pelican, which are all specific to this region. But my favorite of his works were the landmarks: I bought one plaque with one of the Cathedrals we will be visiting later during Holy Week in Cuenca. His art was so personal and made specifically to represent the people and the culture of Cuenca. Another cool thing about his shop was the location: Not only was the outside beautiful with the clay-colored stairs and all the plants, but the shop was at one of the highest points in Cuenca where you can look down upon the city and see everything.
Later in the week, on Valentine’s Day, we got to see how the popular holiday was celebrated in Ecuador. A group of us went to the market located in the colonial part of Cuenca. On Valentine’s Day, there was a whole other side of the market completely dedicated to the flowers. It was so interesting to see how excited everyone was to be buying flowers for their family or friends. My roommate Julianna and I bought a flower arrangement for our host mother.
The market area is home to some of the most beautiful buildings in Cuenca, and we passed through some churches which were pretty on the inside and out. This market is also home to the iconic “Cuenca” sign, which provides a great view of the blue domes you can see in the background. This is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, named after Mary just like the chapel at the Mount. It is also referred to as the New Cathedral of Cuenca. The Cathedral is an historical landmark in Cuenca. Construction on the structure began in 1885 and lasted for nearly a century.
My first week in Cuenca was such a historic and beautiful experience! Look out for my blog for next week, where I plan to feature a traditional Latin American custom and celebration, Carnival. As Ecuador is a predominantly Catholic country, this is a huge celebration on February 24th and 25th right before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday which is the 26th. I hope you enjoyed my blog post for this week. Stay tuned for #HolyThursday from Tyler this Thursday! Ciao!