CUENCA, ON-LINE ISSUE 03
Writed by Dr. Jaime Astudillo Romero
Photos Courtesy of Dr. Jaime Astudillo Romero. Lucho Barrera and Yenis Bejas
Gonzalo Zaldumbide, an Ecuadorian writer and diplomat from the early 20th century, described Cuenca’s energy and feeling by saying it is "a city full of soul.”
We feel its soul in the trail of the past: Guapondelig, cradle of the indomitable Cañari nation; Tumipampa, the notable city of the Inca empire Tahuantinsuyu; Santa Ana de los Ríos de Cuenca; the Republic of Cuenca and other iconic places. Cuenca’s history has led to its recognition as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Ciudad Universitaria of Ecuador by the National Assembly, Ciudad Saludable by WHO, the inclusion of the Massif del Cajas as the Fifth World Biosphere Reserve. The protection of culture and nature are the visible symbols of a huge collective effort to protect and further develop the identity of a city that also bears the eloquent nickname “Athens of Ecuador” for its cultural reputation.
Zaldumbide was right. We are a city with a soul, rather, with many souls that give us identity. Our varied faces draw Cuenca: indigenous and mestizo, conservative and progressive, intellectual and sports-minded, industrial and folk, religious and irreverent, traditional and innovative. We’re a world of contrasts–-sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle. Those contrasts awaken us to human nature in all its expressions. Our contrasts and similarities blend, giving our city the vibrant joy that seems ever present. We are continually renewed, like the flow of the water of Cuenca’s four rivers, marking our destiny like lines in the palm of the hand.
All these things contribute to Cuenca’s reputation as a friendly and hospitable city. It’s a city that values the importance of those from foreign shores, treats outsiders as insiders, and is increasingly becoming a friendly and open space where peoples from all parts of the planet coexist. This may explain why we are the Ecuadorian city with the largest number of immigrants from around the world.
Of course, there are challenges to overcome. We are all different and that is very good, but we are still too distant from one another, and that is not good. It is possible to get closer. For this we must know each other better.
The Cuenca for Expats Online Forum is an open space created to talk about Cuenca and its people; to talk about you and the routes we will travel in the future. Through all the voices that build this city daily, we will search for the essence of these multiple souls that are part of our life.
Two independent modules with ten lessons each, will relate to the history of Cuenca, it’s ecology, local and regional territory, our expressions in daily conversation, our identity, the characteristics of Cuenca as a World Heritage city, guides of cultural and historical sites, laws, rules and procedures and the special link between gastronomy and local culture.
The participation of expats in some lessons and also in a testimonial section about their own life experience in Cuenca will be very interesting. The institutional sponsorship of the Municipality of Cuenca, the University of Cuenca and its faculty of Hospitality Sciences, the House of Culture of Azuay and the Chamber of Tourism of Azuay gives special support to this event".
Coming soon! The first module begins on January 4, 2021.
We will explore the colors and flavors, lights and shadows, the yesterdays and tomorrows. In this intimacy of human diversity, we will enjoy nature, customs, art, music, ways of speaking, cooking, and enjoying the city.
And we will get to know each other better.
- CITIZEN JOURNALISM – CUENCA A CITY WITH MANY SOULS - October 13, 2020