Rick Duda invited me to spend the day on a tour to Azogues. I met him at his place on Calle Larga at 6:15 in the morning. We caught a taxi to the bus terminal where we rode a bus the 25 or so miles to Azogues at a cost of $.85. Rather than taking a taxi to where the tour met, we decided to walk. The short walk took us along a river where we skirted the town for a short distance before heading into town and up to the plaza. There were two buses packed with young and old excited about the day's adventure. Rick and I were the only expats although there were 2 or 3 others who spoke English. Both Rick and I thought this was just going to be a ride to several different areas to see, never realizing the day would end up with "mountain climbing" and "spelunking"!
We headed off, arriving first at the little plaza in front of Iglesia de San Alfonso. The church of San Alfonso is located in the parish of Cojitambo located, west of the city of Azogues and was built in the year 1957. From there we headed down a path that eventually took us to caves, Los Boquerones, located in the parish Luis Cordero. They were formed many years ago due to the extraction of the mineral called quicksilver or mercury. The deposits were discovered around 1558.
After our adventure in the caves we headed back up the hill to the plaza where we bought some delicious empanadas that were freshly cooked and coated in sugar; just what was needed after the "mountain climbing" and "spelunking"!
Soon we boarded the bus for the next stop which was the salt flats, about fifteen minutes from where we were and at an altitude of 9,389 feet. The hike down wasn't bad at all but this old body just didn't like the steep hike out and had to rest 3 or 4 times. The house that was right were the path started down into the salt flats had a big pot of tamales for sale as we got to the top. They were fresh and hot right out of the pot and only $.50. What a treat after that strenuous hike up.
Our last stop was Laguna de Chocar, a man made lake At 9,250 feet elevation it is located three minutes from the parish Luis Cordero. Here there was much food and games and time to just walk around the area and enjoy the panoramic views of the countryside. Due to the altitude and the fact we were in the open it was quite cold here. But it was still a fun time to see all the children and adults alike enjoying themselves.
Soon it was time to head home. Rick and I thought we would have to catch a bus back from the terminal but as it turned out, the bus we were on headed into Cuenca. It dropped us off not too far from Las Americas where we caught a bus home.
What a fun day it was and I so enjoyed seeing the countryside and interacting with and watching the people on the tour enjoying themselves.