A Travellerspoint blog

Stop Me and Buy One in Cuenca

semi-overcast 23 °C

While most Ecuadorians seem to be quite well heeled many earn a meagre living as street traders. There are, of course, numerous markets where women in traditional dress sell all manner of goods as they have done for generations. But Ecuador is famous for its blooms and the flower market in Cuenca is a picture of floral displays…
…in addition to the colourful women who operate the stalls…
When it comes to colour, few can outshine these indigenous street musicians playing panpipes…
Aside from the established markets there are legions of freelancers offering all kinds of foodstuffs. Freshly fried papas fritas (potato chips) can be bought on many street corners along with such unusual items as hardboiled quails’ eggs…
And uncooked meringue which is piled into cones and looks like ice-cream…
Ice-creams seem to be the Ecuadorians’ favourite treat and almost every street has a heladeria (Ice-cream parlour). However, a multitude of ice-cream vendors prowl the streets, often with no more than a cooler full of icy treats. The more prosperous have bicycles from which to peddle their wares…
We often come upon novel moneymaking schemes. For instance in Bogota we witnessed a young man with a bike who did an amazing juggling act while standing on the handlebars as he did figures of eight in front of four lanes of traffic stopped at traffic lights. In just 50 seconds he did his act, leapt off his bike and collected money from the first 8 motorists. The street entertainers of Cuenca seem less energetic and in the cathedral plaza photographers have an alluring set of cuddly animals to entice kids to bug their parents to let them have a ride – for a fee…
We enjoy watching street vendors and entertainers and sometimes reward them with a purchase or a gift. We bought a CD from the indigenous musicians and some cherries from this sweet woman…
However, it is not always amusing to watch people struggling to make a buck on the street and sometimes we are torn. For example: In the affluent city of Cuenca a small army of sad-faced shoeshine boys, some as young as six or seven, work the streets and we feel guilty because, not wanting to encourage child labour, we refuse to let them clean our shoes. But then we feel guilty for not letting them earn a dollar or two – sometimes everyone loses.

Posted by Hawkson 18:05 Archived in Ecuador

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The cherry lady's hat would do it for me. The ubiquitous baseball caps don't. Those two street musicians, however, are spectacular (as is that wonderful collection of roses).
Uncooked meringue? Not for me, thanks.

by R and B

Love the colour!! It's a hard one, I agree, seeing so many people who are eeking out a living and what can we do to help?

by Joyce

Looks like a lively and colourful place. Not easy being an ethical tourist.

by Sue Fitzwilson

What a colorful place. Cherries and flowers look good enough to eat.

by Tom

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