Have Walker, Will Travel
By Mildred Boyd
Although Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador, getting there is not easy. When Lizz, Judy, walker and I essayed the trip, it took two days. There were layovers in Mexico City and Panama City before we finally reached Quito, too late to catch the last plane to our final destination.
It was a hard journey for me even with the help of my two ladies-in-waiting and everyone else I encountered. Once again, I was pleasantly surprised and duly grateful at the courtesy and helpfulness of airline employees and, especially, by the kindness and consideration of my fellow travelers.
As before, I took my walker to the door of the airplane and had it back as soon as we disembarked. I was assigned an aisle seat in the first row of each plane to minimize the distance I had to walk without help and never had to stand in the long lines through immigration and customs. Neither did my daughters. We were sought out, courteously escorted to a special gate for the handicapped and ushered through with a wave. People made way for me with heartwarming smiles and, if I stumbled, total strangers steadied me and offered help.
In spite of all this coddling, I was happy to fall into bed in the charming colonial mansion that was our hotel. I was still a little dragged out next morning but a lot of coffee and a visit to the National Anthropological Museum in Quito perked me up considerably. The museum is multi-storied but there is a small elevator to whisk people like me from floor to floor.
Since Ecuador was once part of the Inca Empire, there were many artifacts from that culture but most of the exhibits were devoted to the little known, indigenous peoples of the area. I was particularly impressed by the collection of magnificent, many-stranded necklaces. Some were elegant creations of gold and jade fit for an Emperor. My favorites, however, were the charming ones composed of shell, bone, obsidian, pretty pebbles and exotic seeds of every description. These were obviously made and worn by the common people.
Our late afternoon flight arrived in Cuenca while there was still enough light to appreciate the beauty of the city and the splendor of its mountain setting. The streets were wide, amazingly clean and smoothly paved which augured well for my being able to get around easily with my walker.
Our destination was the apartment Judy and Allen had purchased on an earlier trip. I had seen pictures of the mountain stream it faces but heavy rains in the mountains had turned the babbling brook I expected into a raging torrent. That and that the apartment was quite luxurious are about my only memories.
Changes in atmospheric pressure and severe dehydration finally caught up with me and all I could do was sleep for several days. Next time I’ll tell you what I saw when I finally woke up.