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Cuenca Museum of Modern Art in San Sebas + Marc’s Consignments Tour (Episode 77)

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This day in the life video is a walking tour of the San Sebas (or San Sebastian) area of Cuenca Ecuador.

Marc’s Consignments Cuenca

Our first stop was at Marc’s Consignments. One of our very first subscribers, Marla, will be moving here to Cuenca in June and she requested a tour of one of the consignment stores.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca

Marc’s Consignments is located in the San Sebas area of Cuenca just a couple blocks from San Sebas plaza. In addition to brokering furniture sales, they can also help with relocation services. And if you need something special that they don’t have, they can find it for you. Their stock rotates about every 2 months and they get new items every week so check back often.

Marc's Consignments Cuenca Store

There are two other consignment stores that we know about that are popular with gringos: Cuenca Consignments and JD Muebles. We’ve never been to Cuenca Consignments, but JD Muebles is very similar to Marc’s Consignments.

San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

One of the prettiest, old-world plazas in Cuenca has to be San Sebas Plaza. Locals and gringos alike are often seen relaxing near the fountain, surrounded by flower gardens. Café San Sebas is popular gringo hangout with a nice patio and views of the plaza and the Museum of Modern Art.

San Sebas Plaza Cuenca

Cuenca Museum of Modern Art – Museo Municipal de Arte Moderno de Cuenca

We’ve been to Cuenca’s Museum of Modern Art several times. It’s a beautiful, quite and relaxing art museum with several colorful gardens.

 Museum of Modern Art Cuenca

Museum of Modern Art Garden

However, on this day, there weren’t any art exhibits. The museum is in the process of doing a comprehensive renovation so none of the art was on display except for the outdoor sculptures. We still enjoyed ourselves none-the-less.

Pho Vietnamita Restaurant

After we left the museum, we walked a couple blocks to Pho Vietnamita for lunch. As far as we know, this is the only Vietnamese restaurant in Cuenca, and it’s muy delicioso.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Sign

We met Rick, the head chef and owner, during our Visa process. We rode to Machala together to file our paperwork soon after we arrived in Cuenca.

Pho Vietnamita Rick

Rick made us some delicious vegan rice paper spring rolls as an appetizer.

Pho Vietnamita Vegan Spring Roll

We ordered the Vegetarian Pho, which is actually vegan, for our main course. The Vegetarian Ramen uses egg noodles, so it’s not vegan. The Pho bowl was very flavorful and filling.

Pho Vietnamita Cuenca Bowl

INTI-RAYMI Galeria

After we left Rick’s place, we walked down Simón Bolivar toward Parque Calderon. If you’re in the market for unique furniture and home decor, the INTI-RAYMI Galeria might have what you’re looking for. They have more furniture on the upper level so be sure to check that out, too.

Home Decor Store

The Cuenca Flower Market

A walk through El Centro wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Cuenca’s world famous Flower Market.

Cuenca Flower Market

Cuenca Flower Market Lilly

Fogón del Zorro Peruvian Restaurant

After we left the flower market, a dark cloud appeared from out of nowhere (as they often do here in Cuenca) and the sky opened up. We stepped inside Fogón del Zorro just as it started pouring rain. They do have a few options on the menu for us vegans, but since we had already eaten, we just ordered a delicious Peruvian beer to sip while we waited out the storm.

Fogon del Zorro Beer

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1 Day In Our Life During Carnaval 2019 in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 75)

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Another beautiful, tranquilo Sunday in Cuenca Ecuador and another Day In Our Life video. We logged over 24,000 steps walking around Cuenca, and we share many of those steps with you.

We started the day with a long walk around our vecino (neighborhood) de El Vergel. Daisy even made a couple of friends along the way.

Daisy

It’s Carnaval here in Cuenca, which means you need to watch out for water balloons and spray foam. It’s tradition to get people wet by any means possible during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. We barely missed getting hit by two water balloons thrown from a moving car on our way home from Supermaxi on Friday. The threat is real, people.

Carnaval Foam

You may be wondering if we have recipes for the dishes we ate in the video, but we don’t yet. We’ll post them to LottaVeg.com as soon as we finalize and enter them. They were all delicious, but the spicy choclo (Peruvian field corn) that we put on our salad was my favorite.

Quinoa Barley Breakfast

Quinoa Barley Breakfast

Salad with Spicy Chocolo

Salad with Spicy Choclo

Teriyaki Seitan

Teriyaki Seitan

We stopped in for jugos at Café de Alicia next door to the Old Cathedral in Cuenca’s El Centro. Amelia had a jugo de guanabana and I had a jugo de mango. They were both delicious and only cost $1.70 each. In the states, an orange juice that size would easily cost $4, and good luck finding guanabana or mango juice.

Café de Alicia

Amelia loves being physically active. She does yoga almost everyday, as well as belly dancing and pole fitness. That’s on top of our 10,000 steps on an average day. That’s why I call her my little hummingbird. She’s always fluttering around doing something.

Since Fratello was closed for the holiday, we ate lunch at home and decided to go to Namaste India for dinner. While we were there, Chinnu taught us some words in her native language of Malayalam. She grew up on the southern tip of India in a rural fishing village so Hindi isn’t her native language. That has to be one of the hardest languages to learn. It’s all vowels and the words go on for miles!

This is what “nice to meet you” looks like in Malayalam: നിന്നെ കാണാനായതിൽ സന്തോഷം. And here is the phonetic pronunciation: ninne kāṇānāyatil santēāṣaṁ. Good luck with that!

We had such an amazing day here in Cuenca during Carnaval! And we’re excited to share it with you! Just remember, if you’re ever in Cuenca during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday, stay on the lookout for water balloons because they may contain more than just water. 😬

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!

Caught In The Rain + Organic Food Shopping in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode #23)

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Today we ventured down to Tienda Néctar located in El Centro, one of our favorite organic markets. They carry a few things like tahini, dates and organic soaps that can be difficult to find. They also get Braggs Liquid Aminos on occasion.

After Néctar, we came back home for lunch and then left again for Jungle Gym back in El Centro on Calle Larga. On our way back home, we got caught in a rainstorm. We waited for about 10 minutes in the ATM kiosk at Banco Pichincha and then under the awning at the Valgus Hotel.

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Tienda Néctar in Cuenca Ecuador

Tienda Néctar Cuenca Ecuador

There are lots of little organic markets in Cuenca, but unlike some of them, the owners at Tienda Néctar speak fluent english. That means they can help you find things more easily, and they’ll even special order some things for you.

They offer a variety of organic products, from nut butters to soaps to wine. It’s not a vegan market so they do carry a few animal based products, but not many. They also offer therapeutic massage and juicing protocols, if that’s your thing.

Chinnumol from Namaste Indian

Unlike back in Denver, we run into people we know on the street nearly every time we leave the house. Since everyone walks here, it’s much more common to pass someone on the street. That means we actually get to interact with people a lot more.

Chinnumol from Namaste India Restaurant Cuenca Ecuador

Chinnumol is the hostess at Namaste India Restaurant on Calle Larga y Benigno Malo, one of our very favorite restaurants in Cuenca. And one of the reasons we love going there is Chinnu’s happy demeanor and infectious smile. She always makes us feel right at home.

Namaste has a sizeable vegetarian menu with several vegan items on it. If you tell them you’re vegan and ask them not to use any animal products in your food, they’re happy to oblige. They will also cook without oil and coconut milk, if you’re concerned about high cholesterol, like me.

Recipes on LottaVeg.com

Beets Radishes Cuenca Ecuador

Our other website is LottaVeg.com where we post our plant-based, vegan recipes and meal plans. I mentioned two recipes in the video: Ginger Vinaigrette Beets and Sauteéd Radishes. They’re a very tasty way to eat veggies that a lot of people don’t like. Give them a try and let us know what you think.

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We hope you enjoyed our trip to Tienda Nectar in Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also 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.

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Belly Dance Fundraiser at Fratello Vegan in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 14)

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Back in the states, Amelia enjoyed Pole Fitness (that’s pole dancing for exercise), but here in Cuenca, she has fallen in love with Tribal Fusion Belly Dancing! She only had 4 days to learn this dance for the fundraiser and she did great!

This is her second performance in front of a crowd not counting the first time she belly danced at an impromptu class in Episode 4. We recorded some of our videos a few months ago so you’ll see Amelia belly dance in her first performance in a future video.

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People & Places (and Animals)

The Tribal Fusion House

1 Amelia Makeup

The Tribal Fusion House is where Amelia takes belly dance lessons in the Tribal Fusion style. Julio is the teacher and runs the studio. It’s not everyday you get to see another man put makeup on your wife!

Alicia

Julio has ten cats. You read that right. TEN CATS!!! This is Alicia who is very friendly and loves hanging out with the belly dancers.

4 Julio's Tribe

This is the subset of Julio’s tribe that performed at Daniela’s fundraiser. From left to right: Yuruani is from Venezuela, Amelia is from The United States, Julio is from Chile, Samantha is from Cuenca, and Nastya is from Ukraine. Cuenca is quite the melting pot!

Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore”

3 Daniela Group

Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore” is the dance studio run by Caterina (second from the right) who is from Italy.

In addition to ballet, Caterina also teaches several styles of belly dance. Amelia has taken some of her classes, too. She’s an incredible teacher and Cuenca is lucky to have both her and Julio!

Fratello Vegan Restaurant

2 Group Pic

Rosy’s brother Rene owns Fratello Vegan, the venue for the belly dance fundraiser. After the belly dance performance, we all ate some delicious vegan food!

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We hope you enjoyed the Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan in Cuenca, Ecuador. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also 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.

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Shoe Shopping in Cuenca Ecuador + Cervezas at Inca (Episode 12)

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Today, we went shoe shopping in Cuenca, Ecuador, and as a reward for my extreme patience, we went to Inca Lounge for cervezas on our way home. We also stumbled upon some improv dueling rappers in Parque de la Madre. You just never know what you’re going to see while walking around Cuenca, Ecuador!

We hope you enjoy following our shoe shopping experience, and the interesting sights here in Cuenca, Ecuador. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

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People & Places

Graffiti Art in Cuenca Ecuador

Graffiti is a common sight here in Cuenca, Ecuador. Some of it is even commissioned, like this one on Ave. Solano. This wall had a lot of unsightly graffiti so some professional graffiti artists were hired to cover it with something more appealing. This also helps to prevent future graffiti since they seem to respect each other’s work.

Bike Lanes & Sidewalk Tiles for the Blind

Cuenca has lots of bike lanes, and more are being added all over the city. Their hope is to make the city more bicycle friendly so people ride to work and school for both improved health and environmental friendliness.

The tiles that make a line down the center of the sidewalk are for blind people. They use their walking sticks with the tiles to stay oriented on the sidewalk. These tiles are used all over the city.

The Shoe Store That Shall Not Be Named

This is one of Amelia’s favorite places to go shoe shopping in Cuenca, but as far as we know, it doesn’t have a name. It’s located on Benigno Malo a couple blocks north of Calle Larga. This was one of the first stores we stumbled upon during our first exploratory trip to Cuenca.

Amelia in Shoe Heaven

Amelia swears she doesn’t have a shoe addiction, but isn’t that what all addicts say? 🤔

Today, she was on a mission to find some tall boots. We see a lot of women wearing tall boots in Cuenca, and we like how they look, so Amelia wanted a pair of her own. This was the start of a lot of shoe trying on….

Moving On to Emily Shoes

We struck out at the unnamed shoe store, so we ventured onward to Emily Shoes a couple blocks away. After trying on what seemed like every shoe in the store, Amelia finally struck gold. She found a pair of tall boots that she liked (not these), and also a new pair of low boots (or high shoes?). The boots were $34 and the shoes were $28; both made of synthetic materials.

Victory at Emily Shoes

Shoe shopping in Cuenca was as success today. This store does have a name, but no online presence that we can link to. It’s common, especially for the older businesses in El Centro, to not have a website or even a Facebook page. Most of the new businesses outside El Centro at least have a Facebook page, but most businesses in Ecuador have not branched out to a website yet.

Folding Fans for Hot Flashes

Like her mother, Amelia is experiencing hot flashes a little younger than most women (she just turned 50). That means she’s often burning with the fiery heat of a thousand suns. Hopefully, these $2 folding fans will help.

Gringo’s Laundry in Cuenca El Centro

There are over 10,000 gringos in Cuenca, Ecuador. That means a lot of businesses, like this laundry service, target them directly.

A lot of apartments, especially in El Centro, don’t have a washer and dryer so residents must find another way to do their laundry. While we have seen laundromats, it only costs about $3 to $4 per load to pay someone to do it for you. They wash, dry and fold your laundry so you can enjoy your time doing other things. Plus, it helps the economy by supporting local businesses.

Inca Lounge & Bistro

I don’t really think of Inca as a bistro, but it certainly has the lounge vibe. It’s located on the riverwalk next to Río Tomebamba just east of Benigno Malo.

Inca is popular with the gringos during the day, but it’s mainly an Ecuadorian hangout after dark. That’s probably because Ecuadorians like to start their evening late after most of the gringos are already in bed.

Amelia Modeling a Club Verde

Club Verde is my favorite domestic light beer in Ecuador. It’s very crisp and refreshing, and cheap. This giant bottle costs $2.50 at Inca.

It’s actually called Club Premium, but most of the restaurants list it as Club Verde on their menus. The brewer also has a Club Negra (dark beer) that Amelia prefers over the Club Verde, and a Club Roja that we’ve never tried.

Our good friend Rosy from Fratello Vegan wrote the the company and confirmed that all of the Club beers are vegan. They don’t use any animal products in their brewing process. Yay!

Dave at Inca

Dave is a gringo that manages Inca. He’s almost always there. Tell him JP and Amelia said hi if you go there.

Chips & Guac (and Salsa) at Inca Lounge

Inca has really good chips, guac and salsa. We like to go their for a mid-afternoon snack and cervezas on our way home after we’ve been out walking around El Centro. We usually have to order extra chips if we get both the guac and the salsa.

Inca Vegetarian Menu

Most restaurants have a vegetarian (vegetariano) section on their menu, and most items are either vegan already, or can easily be veganized by asking them to skip the congealed mammal fluids (aka cheese and sour cream, aka queso y crema).

Inca’s Veggie Stir Fry is vegan, and the other vegetarian items can be veganized. They also have a vegetarian burrito that can be veganized. We’ve tried several things on the menu and they were all tasty. Be sure to remind them to skip the queso y crema.

Helado Balancing Act

Helado (ice cream) is very popular in Ecuador. We frequently see people walking down the street eating an ice cream cone, which may partly be to blame for the rising health epidemic of obesity, heart disease and diabetes here. Ice cream is loaded with sugar AND fat, both contributors to the increase in poor health around the world.

However, seeing these women walk down the sidewalk with their trays of ice cream balanced on their heads was worth of a share. People are amazing.

Improv Dueling Rap in Parque de la Madre

You never know what you’re going to stumble across while walking around Cuenca. Today, we passed by some improv dueling rappers by the planetarium in Parque de la Madre. You can listen to a short segment in the video. This is such an interesting place!

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our shoe shopping adventure, snacks and cervezas as Inca Lounge and our surprise improv rap here in Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also 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

¡Que linda! – How cute!
afuera – outside
vegetariano – vegetarian
vegano – vegan (a lot of people, both gringo and Ecuadorian, don’t know what this is)
el queso – the cheese
la crema – the cream (also sour cream)
el helado – the ice cream
Está lleno de la gente – It is full of people
Estamos muy relajado – We are very relaxed
las cervezas – the beers
¿Qué más? – What else?

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan, Music Festival & Sabatino’s Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 4)

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Today, we visited Sabatino’s Artisanal Market to get some organic peanut butter, vegan fudge, bread and other stuff. Then we stumbled upon a music festival at Otorongo Plaza celebrating 80 year anniversary of a local music conservatory. Then we went to Fratello Vegan for a delicious lunch and belly dancing performed by Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore”.

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful organic food, scenery and people of Cuenca, Ecuador. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

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People & Places

Yo Soy Groot (I Am Groot)

Tomebamba Graffiti Cuenca Ecuador

American pop culture is very, well, popular here. American TV commercials, movies, music, billboards, fast food restaurants and even graffiti art can be found everywhere, just like this tribute to the loveable Guardians of the Galaxy character, Groot. Even Yoda and Darth Maul can be found brandishing their infamous lightsabers.

Yoda Graffiti Cuenca Ecuador

Graffiti is a prevalent blemish on an otherwise clean city. In an effort to cover some of it, graffiti artists (probably the same ones responsible for the unsanctioned graffiti) are hired to paint large murals like this one. Most of these murals have remained untagged so it appears to be an effective deterrent.

However, if they really want to curtail the non-artistic graffiti, they need a national registry for spray paint, and a minimum age to buy it.

Tomebamba River Walk Cuenca Ecuador

Tomebamba River Walk Cuenca Ecuador

The Tomebamba riverwalk in Cuenca, Ecuador is one of the most beautiful cobblestone paths on the planet. It’s lush and green, and lined with flowering trees and bushes. It follows the Tomebamba river from Otorongo Plaza on the west side of El Centro to Parque Paraiso on the east side.

There are also several restaurants along the path with amazing views of the river and patios that are perfect for people watching.

Bike Lanes a Plenty in Cuenca, Ecuador

Bike Lanes Cuenca Ecuador

Bike lanes are being added all over to make the city more bicycle friendly. They want to encourage more people to ride their bikes to work and school. The main reason for this initiative is to reduce the increasing traffic congestion and pollution, but also to improve people’s health.

Like most developing countries, Ecuador is seeing a rise in diet and exercise related health problems as people transition away from their traditional starchy fruit, vegetable and whole grain diets with minimal meat, to the western diet that’s high in processed foods, fast foods, sugar, salt and animal products.

With economic growth and easier access to cars, motorcycles, smartphones and TV’s, Ecuadorians are also spending less time walking and exercising. As a result, “Over the past decade, Ecuador has experienced a higher burden of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as diabetes, hypertension, stroke, ischemic heart disease and pneumonia, which are now the leading causes of death. Overweight and obesity are widely prevalent across all age groups.” [source]

It’s additionally distressing to hear unhealthy gringos doling out nutrition advice. Ecuadorians are being told to eat less of their traditional low-fat, starchy diets that have kept them lean for millenium. Instead, they’re being told to replace their traditional foods with more meat, dairy and eggs…the very foods (along with processed foods) that have already created a health epidemic in western developed countries.

The “diseases of affluence” like obesity, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, etc., are largely due to the increase in saturated fats and calories from animal products, combined with a more sedentary lifestyle. The best advice we gringos could give the Ecuadorians is to ignore the western nutrition advice and go back to the way they used to eat. Oh, and put down the smartphone and go for a walk.

Magnolia Café in Otorongo Plaza

Magnolia Cafe Cuenca Ecuador

Magnolia Café in Otorongo Plaza (Plaza del Otorongo, en español) on the east side of El Centro has a descent veggie burger, delicious papas fritas (French fries) and reasonably priced Club Verdes. They also have a really nice covered patio with a good view of Otorongo Plaza that’s perfect for people watching.

Be sure to ask for your papas fritas “sin mayonesa,” which means “without mayonnaise.” Most of the restaurants that we’ve been to in Ecuador serve papas fritas with mayonnaise instead of ketchup, and it’s usually served in little bowls so it gets thrown out if you don’t eat it. Ketchup is called “salsa de tomate” and mustard is called “mostaza” so ask for that instead.

Sabatino’s Artisanal Popup Market

Sabatinos Artisanal Market Cuenca Ecuador

Sabatino’s artisanal popup market occurs on the first Saturday of the month and it’s at Tutto Matto on Ave. Solano on the third Saturday of the month. You can keep track of the popup markets on GringoPost.

These popup markets aren’t vegan, but they do have lots of vegan options, like bread from ArteSana and organic peanut butter and vegan fudge from Franco Orgánico.

Franco Orgánico at Sabatino’s Artisanal Market in Cuenca Ecuador

Franco Orgánico Cuenca Ecuador

One of our favorite vendors at Cuenca’s artisanal popup markets is Franco Orgánico. He sells the most delicious natural organic peanut butter, vegan fudge, sweet potatoes, vegan crackers, coffee, squash and other things. He’s fluent in English and loves to tell us about his foods. He also sells in Loja and Vilcabamba in southern Ecuador.

Franco Orgánico Peanuts Cuenca Ecuador

Franco’s peanuts come from an ancient species of peanut that look and taste different than what we’re used to in the states. They have a different shape, they’re softer and they have a milder flavor. He makes his peanut butter by grinding the peanuts without any other ingredients. No preservatives, oil or other mystery chemicals. It’s all natural and delicious!

Vegan Bread from ArteSana

ArteSana Kelvert Cuenca Ecuador

Our favorite bread vender at Cuenca’s popup markets is ArteSana Panadería y Pastelería (bakery and cake shop). Not all of their products are vegan, so be sure to ask. But most of their bread is vegan, like their delicious sourdough bread and chia seed loaves. Tell Kelvert JP and Amelia sent you!

Music Festival at Otorongo Plaza

Accordion Float Cuenca Ecuador

As we were leaving Sabatino’s, this single parade float was passing by so we followed it to Otorongo Plaza. Ecuador has over 500 holidays a year, so it’s common to see small parades and festivals on the weekends, as well as during the week.

The music festival at Otorongo Plaza was celebrating the 80th birthday of the Conservatorio José María Rodríguez here in Cuenca. The sign on the float reads: 80 years – The accordion area pays homage to the conservatory. Accordions are a popular instrument in Ecuador, and you’ll often see them being played on street corners for tips (propinas). These are teenagers playing them on the float.

We’re pretty sure this float was part of a larger parade up the hill from Otorongo Plaza in El Centro because a lot of people and marching musicians came down the stairs while we were watching.

Music Festival Otorongo Stairs Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia and her Café at Magnolia

Amelia Cafe Magnolia Cuenca Ecuador

We decided to grab a seat on the patio of Magnolia Café to watch the festivities and enjoy una taza de café Americano (a cup of Americano coffee).

Dancing at the Music Festival

Music Festival Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Unfortunately, the video and the pictures of the music festival came out blurry due to an equipment malfunction. We were really disappointed because the dancing and dancers were so beautiful in their vintage dresses. 😔

Taxi Ride Back to Fratello

Taxi Ride Cuenca Ecuador

After we left the music festival, we walked across the river to Fratello, but it had started to mist and the temperature had dropped so we went home first to get some warmer clothes.

We normally walk everywhere, averaging more than 5 miles per weekday and 10 miles on the weekend. But to save time, we took a taxi back to Fratello, which is about 1.5 miles from our house.

Taxis are very affordable here. As you can see from the little yellow and green meter on the dashboard, we were almost to Fratello and it only cost $1.37. It was less than $2 with tip for a 10 minute cab ride. We’ve been told it’s common to tip 10 to 25 cents, but we usually round up to the nearest cincuenta centavos (50 cents).

We also like to practice our Spanish with the cab drivers. It’s a good use of time and they usually like talking about their city and lives in Cuenca. Don’t be surprised if they ask you personal questions, like how much money you make, if you’re married, have kids, how many kids or why you don’t have any kids. Children are a central part of the Latin culture and it’s common for Ecuadorian couples to have 3 or more kids, so a lot of the conversation revolves around children.

Fratello Vegan – Cuenca’s Only Fully Vegan Restaurant

Fratello Vegan Cuenca Ecuador

Fratello Vegan is one of our favorite restaurants in Cuenca. They have delicious vegan comfort food, like pizza, burritos, empanadas and ice cream. It’s a little off the beaten path, so you probably won’t stumble upon it by accident. However, it has a beautiful view of the Tomebamba River from its outdoor patio.

While the patio area is covered and they have heaters, it can get a little chilly there on an overcast or rainy day, so be sure to dress in layers and take a jacket.

Helado Vegano (Vegan Ice Cream)

Fratello Vegan Ice Cream Cuenca Ecuador

Helado (ice cream) is extremely popular in Ecuador. You’ll often see lots of people walking down the street eating an ice cream cone, and it seems like every street has una heladería (an ice cream shop). However, while most heladerías have at least one vegan option, Fratello is the only fully vegan heladería in Cuenca.

And they make the most amazing vegan ice cream! I had the chocolate mint ice cream and it tasted just like a peppermint patty. Amelia had the wine ice cream and it was delicious, too.

Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Fratello also hosts a variety of cultural, health and vegan related events. Today, we were treated to a belly dancing performance by Academia Profesional de Danza Clásica “Tersícore”. The woman on the right is the instructor, Caterina, who teaches classes in the ATS style of belly dancing.

Amelia is taking belly dancing classes from Julio at The Tribal Fusion House, a different instructor who is part of the Tribal Fusion style of belly dancing. I’m not qualified to discuss the differences, but both look fun and beautiful to me.

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Cuenca Ecuador

Amelia Enjoying a Belly Dancing Class at Fratello Vegan

Fratello Vegan Belly Dancing Class Cuenca Ecuador

After the kids and professionals performed, Caterina taught a class and Amelia was very excited to participate in it. It’s the first time I’ve seen Amelia belly dance and I was really impressed, especially since she’s only been taking lessons for a short time. You can watch the full video below.

And she’s almost 50 years old! After 2 years of eating a plant-based, vegan diet, she has really rolled back time!

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our adventure to Sabatino’s Artisanal Market, the Music Festival at Otorongo Plaza and Belly Dancing at Fratello Vegan in Cuenca, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also 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

yo soy Groot – I am Groot
orgánico – organic
¿Cómo se dice? – How do you say?
Panadería y Pastelería – bakery and cake shop
sin mayonesa – without mayonnaise
salsa de tomate – ketchup
mostaza – mustard
papas fritas – French fries
80 años: el área de acordeón rinde homenaje al Conservatorio – 80 years: The accordion area pays homage to the conservatory
propinas – tips
una taza de café Americano – a cup of Americano coffee
cincuenta centavos – 50 cents
Vamos al restaurante Fratello – We’re going to the Fratello restaurant
Está a la derecha un poco más lejos. – It’s on the right a little further.
¿Sabe Fratello? – Do you know Fratello?
helado – ice cream
una heladería – an ice cream shop
¿Cómo está la empanada? – How is the empanada?

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video

Bumba Popup Market, El Centro & Café Libre in Cuenca Ecuador (Episode 1)

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

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

We hope you enjoy the amazing scenery and interesting people we meet along the way. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

Please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE this video, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel.

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 Popup Market

Bumba Popup Market Cuenca Ecuador

Bumba Fruits & Beer is a popular Ecuadorian hangout with a great view of the Tomebamba river. The Bumba Popup 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.

Kelvert from ArteSana

Kelvert from ArteSana Cuenca Ecuador

We visit Kelvert 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!).

Kelvert 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 pictureworthy.

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

Links to Info & Places We Visited in the Video