My luggage was already overflowing and I needed a new printer anyway, so I left my old printer behind, planning on buying a new one in Cuenca.
My friend Greg Madeiros, an expat computer guy, recommended the store CompuFacil. Armed with the address on Remigio Crespo Toral near Avenida Loja, I checked my trusty guía de buses and determined that I could take the number 16 bus from Avenida 24 de Mayo, a 10-minute walk from where I’m currently living, right to CompuFacil.
I set out on a warm sunny Saturday morning and caught the 16. It followed the Rio Yanuncay past the big Parque Paraíso, then wound around the city streets, paralleled the Rio Tomebamba on Avenida 12 de Abril, turned left on Avenida Solano, and right on Remigio Crespo Toral.
Though I’d never been in this neighborhood, I’d wanted to check it out ever since I toured the beautifully restored colonial home of Remigio Crespo Toral himself (1860-1939), a poet laureate of Ecuador, as well as a lawyer, legislator, journalist, diplomat, art critic, and one of the leading intellectuals of his time. His home on Calle Larga, completed in 1917, was Cuenca’s first museum, which opened it 1946; it displays a small but high-quality and eclectic collection of pre-Columbian artifacts, religious paintings and sculpture, historical documents, and an exhibit on El Cajas National Park.
Inside the bus, my head swiveled from the left to the right and back again as sight after striking sight caught my eye: a ’58 Mercury atop a 15-foot-tall platform; a peaceful park with a shady rise topped by a cylinder of trees; a “Pimp My Bike” wall mural; a string of cosmopolitan restaurants, delis, gourmet shops, and ice cream parlors; even a full-size airplane parked in a vacant lot!
Finally, I saw CompuFacil and hopped off the bus, only to find it closed and locked up tight at 11 a.m. on a Saturday morning. No hours were posted; there wasn’t any sign of life at all. Ah well, it just gave me an excuse to come back and further explore the neighborhood.
I returned, again on the 16 bus, the following Tuesday afternoon. This time I got off at Avenida Solano and walked the mile or so east to CompuFacil.
Along the way, I peeked into: the Pizza Hut on the corner of Frederico Peruaño; a crepe restaurant called, aptly enough, La Crepería; a big chicken joint, Pollo de la Remigio; the gourmet deli La Europea; El Festin, a buffet I’d seen ads for; Frutilado, a bakery and sit-down ice cream parlor serving juices, milkshakes, waffles, and crepes; Dos Mundos for comida Cuencana; La Mar, a Peruvian restaurant; the biggest liquor store I've seen in Cuenca; and even more eateries I’m anxious to try when I move closer to this neighborhood next month.
However, when I got to CompuFacil, it was closed, again, this time at 2:30 on a Tuesday afternoon. The security grill, however, was unlocked, so I could enter the building, peer through the window, and get a glimpse of a half-dozen lovely printers sitting on a display table.
I stood there, the printers tantalizingly just out of reach, thinking that maybe I didn’t need one at all. Maybe this was a sign that I should banish paper from my life forever.
Or maybe it was a sign that I needed to explore Remigio Crespo Toral even further.
Email Deke Castleman at email@example.com.