Learning about IKAT weaving
First stop today is the family home and workshop of Jose Jimenez, one of the leading exponents of IKAT weaving in Ecuador. This unique technique consists wrapping a certain number of threads on a loom to create a wool cloth. The patterns feature Inca and Canari figures as well a roses, butterflies, flowers and birds. Colours are achieved using natural products like charcoal, fruits, soil and plants.
Our next stop is a small town called Gualaceo. Here we stroll through the open food market and see a great variety of foodstuffs plus a vast selection of fruits and vegetables. Everyone is treated to a large slice of fresh pineapple ... and then the wet wipes are handed around! Our guides, Juan Carlos and Diego also lead tours into the main church which has a magnificent stain glass window and an interesting wood panel ceiling. In addition we stroll the main square which features colonial style buildings and a pleasant central garden which is attracting beautiful hummingbirds. There are also some beautiful young women strolling about! Tomorrow in Gualaceo there is a Miss Universe competition featuring young contestants from many South and Central American countries. We think Miss Ecuador has a good chance so long as she does not break her ankle in the meantime if she continues to wear her 12 inch heals!
From Gualaceo we drive a short distance to Hosteria Uzhupud for a light lunch. Unfortunately it begins to rain just as we arrive, so we retreat indoors. It stops raining so we can take a walk around the gardens. There are more hummingbirds to spot and an interesting greenhouse with orchids. Just before we are due to leave some thunder starts up so we jump on board coach to avoid the coming rain. And it certainly rains! Neptali, our coach driver, does a magnificent job getting us home safe and sound.
Back in Cuenca the rain has stopped and we walk to Villa Rosa, an exclusive restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel. There is a choice of menu, yet more complimentary wine and red roses for the ladies.
As we go to bed, Dawn and her guests are checking in at Heathrow Airport to begin their journey to Ecuador. If all goes according to plan we will all meet up in the coastal city of Guayaquil tomorrow night.