Crossing the border to Ecuador was no mean feat and involved 3 buses, one to take us to the border, one to cross over and one to carry on. It therefore took a full day to get there. Also our guide could not escort us through because being Peruvian, if he had been seen to be with us they may not have let him through! Complicated.
One noticeable thing about crossing the border was straight away the change of scenery. From desert and rock, sprang greenery and banana plantations. The atmosphere on the bus also changed with people either starting to sing, or even in one case acting out a play between two characters. This was particularly random as one of the men acting made a lousy attempt to go drag and kept bursting into laughter throughout. It certainly made an entertaining journey.
So Cuenca -the main manufacturer of the Panama Hat. And before you ask- Panama Hats come from Ecuador not Panama. This was a beautiful city where the old quarters were separated by a lovely river the Río Tomebamba, with beautiful greenery along its lush river banks. As we walked along we were impressed with the old colonial architecture. In some instances it was debatable how they even still stood.
Our first stop was to find the Panama Hat museum and purchase a few. Unlike most museums this was tiny and got straight to the point. No words required, just step by step models. Awesome. It meant we could get on with the most important thing- shopping. I found myself a lovely hat of woven green and white straw. Fab. A good day all round.
Following a wander around the city, and an awesome ice cream, we headed to the Museum del Banco Central or Pumapungo. This was a lovely museum which also did not require much time and thought. There were great displays of jungle life, including a few genuine shrunken heads. Very creepy. Outside were some Inca ruins. Being good tourists we headed out and as we rounded the building saw some grass and a few stone walls. It was the most amazing ruin ever - not! Bemused we wandered a bit further around completely baffled by why it was sold as a good ruin to visit. The only interesting part to it was where they had resurrected a garden from Inca times and nearby had some jungle birds and lizards to look at.
We did not have much time in Cuenca to enjoy the sights, but it was a lovely city and very refreshing.