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From the Tatacoa Desert, I took a bus back to Bogota and flew out the next day to Cuenca, Ecuador. Cuenca is the third largest city in Ecuador, and one that I chose to make my base for exploring the country (passing over the larger Quito and Guayaquil after hearing some not so enticing stories about them). Cuenca is located in the highlands of Ecuador, at 8400 feet above sea level, which I figured would be a good acclimate before moving on to the yet higher altitude stops in Peru.

The city center is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its well-preserved 16th and 17th century era Spanish colonial architecture. It also happens to be one of the more popular South American destinations for retired American expats thanks to its mild climate, beautiful colonial architecture, cheap real estate and health care, walkability, and the use of the US dollar as currency.

The cobble-stoned streets of the historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Benigno Malo High School

Tomebamba River

Iglesia de Todos Santos, one block from where I was staying.

Donde esta la zapateria?

Cuenca City Hall

The view from my kitchen window.

Methinks we needs a haircut.

About 45 minutes outside of the city lies Cajas National Park, a gorgeous (though cold and rainy) national park which is great for hiking and camping.

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