Today was a first. I’ve never before been on a bus that got lost. Our bus from Baños to Cuenca left Baños at 8:45. It was another nice bus and was about a third full. Almost everyone on board was a backpacker.
About an hour into the trip the road was blocked for road work and the driver had to turn back. As he tried to find his way around the road work he kept stopping to ask directions. I think the people he was asking directions of had no idea how much room a bus needs to turn. We eventually came to a turn that was too tight. There was no way we could proceed. Fortunately each bus has a conductor. So with the help of the conductor we backed up a ways. Then the driver spent about 20 minutes trying to back into a driveway and turn around. Eventually he tried another driveway which I think was a chicken farm. As the chickens watched we were able to back completely into the chicken yard and then pull out going the other direction. A little red pickup driven by a bystander pulled out ahead of us and acted as a pilot car to lead us to the main road and after about 15 more minutes we were on our way. I wish I had taken a picture of the chickens!
Google says it is 201 miles from Baños to Cuenca and should take 5 hrs and 45 minutes. It took us 8 hours. That is a long time to sit on a bus but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Baños is at 5,955 ft and Cueca is at 8,400 ft. Along the way our road went up to well over 12,000 ft. The whole route had farms and houses. We saw people plowing a field with oxen and wooden plow. We stopped frequently to pick up people and a few miles down the road let them off. Duke had a long conversation with a 67 year old indigenous man who was wearing a wonderful red knit poncho. The road switchbacked up and up and up and then switchbacked down and down and down. The vistas were expansive and the drop offs steep.
The only down side of the ride was the three very violent very loud movies that were shown on the bus.
In Cuenca we are staying at a wonderful hotel, Los Balcones. It is right in the historic center of Cuenca. And our room even has one of those showers with five shower heads!
On our way back to the Hotel we happened upon the Jazz Society of Ecuador and stopped in to listen. There was a quintet playing. The vocalist and pianist (Katie Kat and Jonn Cain) have recently moved to Cuenca from San Diego. After the show we had a long conversation with him. The bass player (Cristian Torres I think) is the principal bass player with the Cuenca orchestra. The Spanish saxophonist (Gilberto Rivera) had done a concert the night before with his own group. Unfortunately I didn’t catch the drummer’s name. The music was great! At the break a very talented local man whose name I also didn’t get played acoustic guitar and sang some songs by Silvio Rodriguez. We thoroughly enjoy ourselves for over an hour.