I was on a mission. Sick of taking pictures of churches and plazas, I set out that bright Saturday with the intention of seeing what else the capital of Ecuador's Azuay Provinces had to offer. Not only had I read aboutthem, but a few of my fellow CEDEI (Centros de Estudios Interamericanos) teachers raved about some interesting ruins in the southeast corner of Cuenca's historical center. To that end, I went out to search what the hype was all about.

Todos Santos Ruins

Todos

Todos Santos Ruins

It was 11:00 am when I started eastward. I sauntered for several minutes down Calle Larga; the major street running parallel on the north side of Cuenca's Tomebamba River. As the midday rays scorched my face, I saw a sign with an arrow pointing to ruins; I opted to descend the Bajada de Todos los Santos. Hardly any time passed before I noticed a small gated area containing a few rock formations to my left. I glanced at the sign above the entrance and realized I was looking at the Todos Santos Ruins.

Almost forty years ago, workers were clearing this area and uncovered some unusual looking stones. Upon further digging, rock structures of Cañari, Incan and Spanish origin were discovered. These ruins consisted of three distinct building styles, and were eventually put on public display. I was impressed by the remnants of a Spanish watermill that rested atop smooth Incan stonework and covered rougher Cañarirocks. As a result, I took a few pictures of the different construction methods on display and quickly moved on.

Next, I returned to Calle Larga and continued east for a few more minutes before arriving at my destination: the Museo del Banco Central. Despite my conclusion that all of the museum's floors were decorated with appealing pieces of the city's past as well as its pre-Cuencan history, I was truly captivated by the highest level. Featured above were spellbinding, very elaborate showcases of Ecuador's various ethnicities. Carefully viewing the intriguing exhibits for awhile, I then took the advice of my guidebook and rushed to the green grounds out back.

Pumapungo Ruins

Pumapungo

Pumapungo Ruins

The Pumapungo ruins sit on a huge site behind the Museo del Banco Central. Sweating profusely due to the intense sun, I took dozens of pictures of the pre-Columbian foundations scattered atop a terraced hill, which overlooked a lush park.While I followed the snaking paths of the gorgeous greenspace, I noticed various types of peculiar plants (even cactuses) and crops, such as corn. I meandered past the verdant park'spond and circled a small building that housed several kinds of soaring and tropical birds. There were, in fact, countless macaws, eagles and amazons. After digitally preserving many of the colorful birds, I ascended a steep staircase, which led to the site's exit.

Quite satisfied with the day, I still felt a bit disappointed I had to end my visit, but I was in a hurry. Catching my breath after struggling with the stairs, I suddenly realized it was just a couple of minutes before 1:00 PM (closing time); my backpack was still behind the museum's ticket counter.