In order to stay here longer Elena and I had to apply for a tourist visa extension. Currently we are here as tourists. We entered the country on our passports, which gives us 3 months, or 90 days. For now the only option we have to stay here is to apply for a 6 month, or 180 day visa. There is no office in Loja. The nearest office is in Cuenca. We were going to wait until our current visa ran out to apply for the other one, but we found out it is normally recommended that people apply 30 days before their current visa runs out. Since September 30th was officially 30 days until our visa ran out, we planned a last minute trip to Cuenca this weekend.
We decided we would make it not only for buisness, but for pleasure as well. Turns out, a brother and sister in the english congregation there in Cuenca, run a small “bed and breakfast”. Thankfully, even though we called them last minute, they had room for us. It was a great situation. We really enjoyed there help, and there company over the weekend.
We went to the visa office soon after we got there, and found out exactly what we needed to have in order to apply for the visa. We had the weekend to get everything together.
We hung with the English congregation on Friday night for their bible study, service meeting, and school. We also went in service on Saturday morning. We really enjoyed the time we spent with the congregation there. English meetings were a nice break for our minds, as we have been taking in nothing but Ecuadorian Sign, and Spanish for the last 2 months. Two Languages that we are obviously still learning. There are many in the congregation that have made moves like us in order to be here in Ecuador to serve in a greater capacity. It was nice to hear there experiences.
Saturday afternoon we really got a chance to explore the city. Cuenca is a beautiful city! Among the streets of Centro are many old spanish colonial buildings, including large cathedrals, and many homes. Just outside of Centro sits the Universidad de Cuenca. During “Almorzos” or lunch, students and others alike move across the river up the many sets of stairs that connect Centro to the park that lines the river. Estimates have put the North American population in the area at about 4000. This does not include other foreigners, including Europeans, and Australians. We also found Cuenca to be a very clean city as well. Here are some pictures.
Heres a video of a guy playing the flute on the street near the center of town.
We found some really great Architecture in Centro. Here are some examples.
There were some great spots to hang out too! Like Cafe Austria, and Cafe San Sabas
Cafe “San Sabas”
Cafe “San Sabas”
We went to the park!
Some good shopping too.
We got the word on Monday that our application for the visa was accepted, and that we will have to come back October 25th. We still wont be sure whether we get the visa till we return on the 25th. We had a great time in Cuenca, and cant wait to go back again!