IKAT weaving and lunch at Uzhupud!
First stop today is the family home and workshop of Jose Jimenez, who is 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. As we arrive a party of local school children are enjoying a visit to learn about the history of IKAT weaving. They are having fun and learning at the same time .... much like all of us, Richard hopes. As they depart the children shout GOOD BYE in perfect English accents!
Our next stop is a small town called Gualaceo. Here we visit the main church which has a magnificent stain glass window and also an interesting wooden panel ceiling. We walk the main square which features well preserved colonial style buildings. In the gardens the town people have planted flowers and trees typical of the area. Hummingbirds dash about and cameras try to follow them. We stroll around the open food market and see a great variety of foodstuffs plus a vast selection of fruits and vegetables. Richard heads for his favourite fruit stall to order 25 huge slices of fresh pineapple .... so fresh and so tasty .... albeit a bit dribbly too.
From Gualaceo we drive a short distance to Hosteria Uzhupud for a light lunch. The hosteria is set in most beautiful grounds and gardens and the staff have set up lovely dining tables on the patio. Unfortunately the weather is a bit drizzly so we head into the restaurant instead. However this isn't a drawback as all the rooms here have such great character. Together with the gardens and orchid house, it is difficult dragging everyone away after lunch!
Back in Cuenca we enjoy some free time before dinner at Villa Rosa, an exclusive restaurant just a few blocks from our hotel. There is a choice of menu and yet more free wine. The area around Cuenca is well known for rose production so Richard presents a rose to each lady. The men have drunk too much wine so they don't notice!
As we go to bed, Dawn is checking in at Heathrow Airport to begin escorting her guests to Ecuador. If all goes according to plan we will all meet up in the coastal city of Guayaquil Friday night.