Ladies and gentleman, we have just cleared to land at Mariscal Lamar Airport, also known as Cuenca Airport. For your safety and comfort, we ask that you please remain spiritually and physically fit at 2,300 meters above sea level. Please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until your short stay in Cuenca is over to move about the rest of Ecuador
Please check around your seat for any personal belongings such as your literature, convention invitations, sunscreen, some stretchy pants, a bathing suit, and comfy shoes to enjoy your short stay in Cuenca. Please use caution when following this agenda, as heavy “stuff” may shift around during the trip. My hope (and now loose objective) is to lose a few pounds through exertion, since inertia in humidity did nothing for me but double up my laundry.
Let’s begin with a nice warm-up. Spiritual exercise requires stretching out a very important muscle, the heart. Begin with joining the local (English?) congregation. Or exercise some courage and patience by stretching a bit past your comfort zone (in great need territory maybe?)… Make sure to bring proper equipment. And be ready to trek high and low, with a smile.
Now let’s target other muscles that will build stamina, strength, and coordination.
While lounging around…I mean, while doing Jumping Jacks … on the terrace overlooking the River Tomebamba at La Casa del Barranco one evening, I noticed some catchy merenguemusic and movement below and across the river. I saw bodies in motion to the beat of some red colored windbreakers. I was intrigued. And then thought
to myself, I can do that…tomorrow. Just need some stretchy pants and comfy shoes. The following evening, around 7 p.m., from the terrace I saw the same red windbreakers setting up the speakers and other people gathering with broomsticks (to keep your balance) and sweat bands. I went down Calle Larga (Eng. translation-Long Street), down the artsy Escalinata (about ??? stairs) ran across the bridge and asked if I could join. For a mere .50ȼ I could strengthen my core to some classic techno music. So, again across the bridge, past the river, up the stairs, uphill, I panted while putting on my stretchy pants, and told Camilla that for a buck, we could both have a fun work out for an hour. And off we went again, same routine downhill. Got my cardio done even before the actual warm-up. Our exercise instructor was Miguel Palacios, 49 years young, and reminded me of the Ecuadorian version of a shorter Jackie Chan in red windbreakers. There were about 15 in attendance, all women with the exception of two plump preteen boys and a 4 yr. old whom Diana befriended (and kinda babysat so he wouldn’t fall into the river as his mother sweated in a midriff and jeans) while she was suppose to document our little work-out but instead ended up having a photo session with a photogenic Brian.
Camilla and I survived the work out. So, we rewarded ourselves with a nice dinner. And the following day with a spa treatment. Dinner at Blue Monday, an Ecuadorian version of Mexican food, was not as good and colorful as its decor. I’m a firm believer that when travelling you should try the typical food of the country you are visiting. Otherwise you might be disappointed. And I was. Disappointed that despite the fact that I intentionally ordered the only Ecuadorian dish on the menu, they still attempted to put a Mexican twist on it!
Anyway, moving on.
Cooling down is important in a strength workout. You want to bring your heart rate down to a calm beat and maintain hydrated. So, the following morning we packed our bathing suits and sunscreen and took about a 15 minute, $5 taxi drive to Piedra de Agua (Eng. translation- Rock of Water), in Baños Cuenca.
For $30 we were able to access all the facilities that included a steam bath, steam box, volcanic red and blue mud pool, and underground thermal pools. All the soreness from the previous night’s work out was washed away. And me and Di got some extra color on us. And after completing our health fest, we decided to replenish our bodies with some maduros con queso (Eng. translation- fried plantains with cheese) and a few natural juices.
That concludes our quick (but healthy) stay in Cuenca. On behalf of the BCT crew, I’d like to thank you for joining us on this trip. I look forward to seeing you on board again in the near future. Have a nice day!