Where? We hadn’t heard of it either until we saw a sitter wanted advertisement.
Paute is in Azuay, Ecuador. Yep! We made it out of the Caribbean, at least temporarily anyway and are now perched high in the Ecuadorian Andes.
We are only a 40 minute drive from the better known city of Cuenca yet at a 1200 ft lower elevation (Paute is at 7,200 ft) it’s a lot warmer. The days are sunny t-shirt kind of days and it cools down in the evenings making it very comfortable for sleeping. We have had to switch from just a light sheet to a light comforter and we are sleeping like logs. The change in altitude may have something to do with that too.
Paute is a small town that hugs the river of the same name and it has been a great introduction to Ecuador. The fanciest building has to be the modernistic church, with its striking design it dominates the small plaza in the middle of town. It’s a great place to hang out, people watch and get an ice cream too.
For us the highlight has been the markets, there are two and between them they have vendors selling everything, especially on Sundays when the overflow spills out onto the adjoining square. There is to us, after the limited choice in the islands, a boggling array of fruit and vegetables. Its inexpensive too a whole shopping bag full of veggies costs about $5, so we love it.
There are also live chickens, guinea pigs (yes they eat them here) and rabbits, plus pots, pans, brooms and even some enterprising guys selling a miracle cream–made from what appears to be huge maggots–Yuck!
In the smaller market we can buy fresh meat, fish and prawns, thankfully already dead and cleaned. Plus we can get a plateful of the Ecuadorian staple…… roasted pig. On weekends and holidays you will see whole pigs slowly spinning over a BBQ on what seems to be every corner. A plateful of this juicy tender pork, whole corn kernels and a potato cake costs just $3. A ‘grande’ Pilsner beer to go with it, enough for two of us is just $1.25.
When not shopping, eating and practising our ‘Tarzan’ Spanish we go for long walks down by the river. The whole area has been made into a park, complete with swings, slides, dirt bike trails and lots of shady benches to sit and admire the river burbling by. It’s also full of fragrant flowering trees, so yes we do stop and smell the flowers from time to time.
The town is pretty well maintained but there are some crumbling adobe structures here and there. We haven’t checked into property prices here but if you want a fixer upper there are a few candidates around.
Paute has been a great introduction to Ecuador but there are so many more places to explore. We will be bringing you insights into Cuenca, Vilcabamba and Riobamba in the weeks to come.
Adios mi amigas