sunday morning in cuenca. david and i left katherine sleeping and took off up the steps to el centro.
we chose the 50-step route up to the historical part of the city rather than the 84 steps located just across the street from my window. (see photo below). i had at first counted 72 steps but david informed me he walked down 7 dozen steps exactly returning from his excursion yesterday. i stand corrected. i must admit i feel a bit proud. when we first got here on tuesday, i couldn’t make the 12 steps to our apartment without stopping to wheeze, gasp and cough every few seconds. this morning. fifty steps. not without a stop of course, but i did it. me thinks me sees progress!
my desk sits directly in front of the window, so i can observe men, women, children and pigeons make their way up and down the steps throughout the day. it deserves some kind of study. exercise enthusiasts dash up twelve steps, pause to do 30 seconds of squats then race up another flight. others tackle in a serpentine movement. latina helicopter moms tenderly encourage their wee ones up or down the steps while an occasional “sink or swim” mom marches ahead and doesn’t look back as her toddler tackles the rigorous course on her own. lovers stop to kiss, embrace or gaze into each other’s eyes. the occasional man stops to relieve himself (sigh).
i’ve watched older women bearing bags of produce take those steps as if they were nothing. two pigeons hopped up, side by side, one step at a time to collect crumbs. work does go easier in pairs! these 84 steps are a microcosm of life.
one way of the other, everyone gets to the top or bottom.
i digress. david and i went down the street to the 50-step path and made our way up to parque calderon, the main park in the historic area. beautiful. benches beneath flowering trees (where’s a book on Ecuadorian horticulture when you need one?). vendors of all kinds set up to sell fresh flowers (one dozen roses for $3), hand embroidered towels, ceramics, wooden bird houses, panama hats(yes, they are made here, not panama), scarves, crosses, delightful hand-carved wooden buses and more and more and more.
we indulged in flowers.
prior to the market, we entered the large cathedral, took our seats in wooden pews and soaked in the beauty of this massive construction dedicated to God. stained glass, marble columns, gold overlays, statues, candles burning, people praying. beautiful music playing over an amazing Bose sound system. modern technology enhances ancient practice! flat screen tv screens on marble columns seem out of place but serve to allow worshippers to fully participate in the service. such a sense of calm. i felt connected to something timeless, grand and very personal.
purple banners at the front of the sanctuary were printed with the words “Misericordia quiero y no sacrificio” (I desire mercy not sacrifice).
mercy. there seems far to little of this in the world today. and in me. i have much to reflect on.
we left the cool quiet space for the sunny cobbled streets. the buildings are amazing. hundreds of years old. some look the worse for wear, others have been maintained and refurbished in terra cotta, yellow, pale green and other soft colors. all in all, a magical place.
down the narrow streets, take a right, then a left , another right and we face our 84 steps. down we go.
at the bottom, we cross 12 de Abril just before the 5K marathon starts. from our upstairs window we watch thousands of women run by in pink tee-shirts and ball caps. david asked if i’ll be running with them next year. i respond with not even a glance. i’m thankful just for the stamina i’m building up day by day to walk without gasping! my goal is to walk the city, not run. ever.
a friend asked for more photos (i heard you Joe). i’d love to comply but i’m not gifted in the area of capturing beautiful images in print. with david’s help, we’ll try. my only suggestion is that for those of you reading this blog who want better visuals, come visit.
a beautiful Sunday to you all. my mind is still calm from my visit to the cathedral. this will indeed be a day of rest in this very beautiful city.
“Misericordia quiero y no sacfrificio”