I had heard that if you are going to be in Cuenca on a Sunday that you should try to go to Gualaceo and Chordeleg for the day. While I did arrive on a Sunday evening, it was too late to make it there. Instead, I went midweek. Perhaps this is why I didn’t fall in love with it like so many other bloggers.
Gualaceo is supposed to be well known for its arts and crafts, jewelry, and instruments. We found the fruit and veggie market open and wandered through that (and saw some guinea pigs being roasted near the exit), but that wasn’t what I was looking for. Then we asked around for the main plaza, which was empty. We went next to the plaza and found a little two-story mini mall-eque type place, but it only had mass-produced clothing from china.
We snapped some pics and grabbed some fresh juice on our way back to the bus station where we were dropped off. There, we found a bus with Chordeleg written on the side, and for another $2 each, we went the short distance up the hill to Chordeleg.
As we pulled in to Chordeleg we saw children riding horses and donkies laden with fruit and other food items. We had arrived just in time to see a holiday parade of some sort (with a heavy religious angle). It was drizzling so I didn’t take as many pictures as I could have. The parade was really cute, though!
Chordeleg is known for its filigree silver jewelry, but I much preferred watching the parade to jewelry shopping there. Each store I came across had the exact same jewelry as the store next to it. Also, all of the rings I picked up were the type that could be manually sized which always feel too flimsy for me (and always get caught in my hair). Despite trying my China honed bargaining skills combined with my market Spanish, the shop owners were not willing to bargain. Perhaps it had to do with being only a couple days from NYE.
We took a few more pictures once the drizzle and clouds broke up for a bit. Then we had lunch at a restaurant called Punto Verde. I took this opportunity to try a typical Ecuadorian dish called sopa de locro, which is a creamy potato soup with chunks of cheese and hominy in it. Yumm!
After walking back to the bus parking lot where we were dropped off, we waited for a bit and then hopped on the next bus heading for Cuenca (another $2).
Note: If you had a bit more time (we left midday after going to the spa at Banos), many people suggest going 20-30 minutes past Chordeleg to another little town called SigSig. This town is supposed to be a great spot to get a high quality yet VERY affordable Panama hat. I met two girls who did it at my hostel and they were very happy with their purchases.
How to get there from Cuenca:
It makes for an easy day trip via the local bus for about $4 US dollars round trip (the bus seems to be a $2 minimum if you get on an intercity bus). From the main bus terminal in Cuenca look for the bus line heading to Gualaceo. I was told that the bus to Gualaceo leaves twice an hour from Cuenca (and from there you can catch a bus to Chordeleg every half hour too), but I did hear that the number drops off after 5 pm.