Travel Destinations »

Cuenca

Cuenca is the grandfather of Ecuador, with great colonial architecture, and cobbled streets to walk round in. Don’t try to be friendly to the guy who runs the internet cabinas anywhere in Cuenca – he doesn’t sell blank CD’s, he doesn’t know what a memory stick is and he doesn’t have any spare pencils.

Surrounded by all the majesty of a fallen empire, you can excuse the pamphlet at your hostel for saying “Cuencanos, known for their traditional demeanor and conservative cultural values, match their 18th century surroundings and continue a proud intellectual tradition that has produced more notable writers, poets, artists, and philosophers than anywhere else in Ecuador”.

Having dismissed this as tripe and called for another round of caipiriñas, Cuenca was where we had the best political-historical chat – with a motorcycle addict who revved round town, picking up hot women and photographing them against backdrops of the afore-mentioned imposing colonial architecture. They were quite good.

Robyn Leslie

I am a South African, which means I like sunshine and sticky-tape coins together so no-one knows I have money in my pocket. An environmental scientist by qualification, I studied at the University of Cape Town. My years there taught me about the grand narratives of communism, neo-liberalism and post-modernism, and how shitty people can be when they can't find a spot to park their car. After that I needed a break and went off to South America, where I lived and worked for a year. Now I am freelancing as a writer and holding out for a job that combines a morally specific mission with valuable, practical development goals. With a salary. Hmmm. By the way, I was just being snarky before. South Africa is totally safe. Really. Come and visit.