CUENCA DIGESTLack of street signs and addresses pose problem for tourists, businesses and school children

Feb 9, 2009

Cuenca merchants and tourism and education officials are calling on the city to institute a uniform system of signage, particularly in the historic district.

In a letter to city officials, the group claims that poor signage –or the lack of it altogether—affects tourists and citizens alike. According to to Gabriela Alvarez, coordinator of the Tourist Information Center, iTur, the problem causes confusion for tourists who have trouble locating historic landmarks. “Those who rent cars can’t find there way around town. We get complaints every day.”

The city agrees that action has been delayed for too long. Spokesman Augusto Merchan says the city streets department is holding discussions and action is planned by late spring.. “I understand the frustration and hear frequently about delivery people and couriers who can’t find businesses and homes.”

High school principal Daniel Brito complains that lack of street signs and addresses keeps school children from appreciating the heritage of Cuenca. “Many of our students cannot tell you where the great churches and institutions of Cuenca are located. They can't tell visitors to the city where these places are located. The problem is the result of poor street identification.”

Emergency repair work continues for Iglesia San Francisco

Emergency repair work continues on Cuenca’s Iglesia San Francisco in an effort to prevent damage to some of Ecuador’s oldest religious treasures.  Leaks and moisture intrusion at the church, partly due to the collapse of cornicework last spring, are a threat to the integrity of the 400 year old structure, say restoration experts. Of particular importance is preserving the church pulpit and alterpieces which were constructed in 1557.  Architects and historians are still developing plans for the work that will continue through most of 2009 but report that progress is often slow due to the age of the structure. Cuenca architect Lourdes Abad is heading up reconstruction efforts.

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Third Cuenca hospital authorized for kidney transplants  Cuenca’s St. Agnes Hospital has been licensed as the third Cuenca facility authorized to perform kidney transplants.  The National Organization for Organ and Tissue Transplants and Ministry of Public Health, made the announcement last week.

St. Agnes will be the third hospital in Cuenca accredited to perform organ transplants. The other local hospitals with similar certification are Jose Carrasco Arteaga and Mount Sinai. There are 14 hospitals in Ecuador who perform kidney transplants.

In Ecuador there are more than 3,500 patients receiving weekly dialysis treatments and at least 1,200 of them need a kidney transplant. 

Government bans pit bulls and rottweilers as pets

Ecuador is banning rottweilers and pit bull terriers as pets, according to the national Ministry of Health. In a press release, the ministry said that breeding standards for the two dogs had produced animals known for their violent behavior, making them unsuitable as pets. The ban takes affect March 1.  The new rule also includes dogs interbred with the two types. Care of dogs used by police and private security companies will also be regulated, according to the ministry.  The prohibition was announced after a child in Quito was killed by two pit bulls in October. In Loja, a child died on wounds inflicted in June by the family’s pet rottweiler.

Photo caption: Reconstruction work at Cuenca's Iglesia San Francisco

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