The humble guinea pig ....a few facts;
1. It´s one of Europe´s favourite family pets
2. It´s a pretty cute furry little animal that likes to run around on wheels at all times of the day and night
3. The shamans in the Amazon use it as a key tool to diagnose human ailments. Yup folks, a Guinea pig has the same placement of organs in its little body as we do. So the shaman kills a guinea pig, runs it over a human body, then cuts it open to diagnose the problem. Not sure how that would go down in the UK but here it´s still pretty big business.
4. Oh and it´s Ecuador´s national dish!
Cuenca, the last place in Ecuador before heading into Peru. It´s probably my favourite place in the whole of Ecuador.
We reached there after leaving the "Sultan of the Andes" - Riobabmba - at 5am to catch the train to the Devils Nose. Riobamba was more like Brighton with peeling paint than any sultan but maybe in it´s hey day? The devils nose is an old railway that winds through the Andes to a point that apparently has the devils nose. Or maybe an Inca face? Or maybe a series of rocks that you can only make a head out of after smoking the local cactus? I´ll give you a fiver if you can find a face. So after that arduous journey we had a quick local Almuerzo (lunch for $2!) with possibly the best Papaya juice i´ve ever had (and i´ve had a lot) that i had to have two. Not such a great idea when you have a 7 hour bus journey!!!! Yikes. Needless to say when the locals piled on, then the chickens came on board it made the whole experience less than comfortable!
Cuenca itself is a beautiful old Colonial town, much like the old town of Quito but it´s cleaner, safer and has more charm somehow.
It´s massively Catholic too so there are lots of churches to explore. What was really remarkable was how many people were in church at 10am on a Monday morning. Maybe they needed to repent from the weekend??? We wandered throught he main square taking in the beautiful new Cathedral with blue domes and went inside the main church in Plaza Domingo. Ever seen a pastel church before? I hadn´t, rather unique. We then went to a Panama Hat factory and learnt that actually it´s an Ecuadorian hat that the president of the time wore to Panama which is how it got its name. Lots of fun trying them on but only Janine bought one.
We went for "cuy", or Guniea Pig, on our last night in Cuenca. The photos speak louder than words i think! Let´s just say it crunched like nothing i had ever heard before. I was rather relieved to be eating salad! We spent the last night playing pool with Rodrigo and crawled into bed at 1am ready for a 5am start. Peru here we come!!!