Cuenca’s newest hostal is open for business in the city’s Barranco district, across Calle Tres de Noviembre from Rio Tomebamba.
Formerly housing the Chilean consulate and an interior design shop, the Villa Nova Inn offers 12 renovated guest rooms and such services as a continental breakfast, room service, WiFi internet service and DirecTv. The Inn is priced in the mid-range for Cuenca hotels with single accommodations at $30.50 while doubles are $54.90, taxes and service charge included. The Inn is offering a 15% discount on its regular rates until Nov. 1. There are also reduced prices for extended stays.
The Inn is a partnership of Cuencana Fernanda Cueva and Leita Hulmes, who divides her time between Cuenca and the U.S. Cueva is also the owner of Sakura restaurant, located next door to the Inn.
FIRE DANGER REMAINS HIGH AS EXTENDED DROUGHT CONTINUES
According to Azuay province public health officials, the danger of brush and forest fires is the highest it has been in 10 years. “We have had very little rainfall for the last three months and vegetation is very dry,” said Juan Boros, spokesman for the office.
Dozens of small fires have been reported since early September but all have been contained or burned themselves out on their own. According to Boros, a major danger is fires in inaccessible areas of the surrounding mountains. “We have had several of these in the Cajas, just west of Cuenca, but fortunately, they did not spread.” Boros believes most fires are the result of human carelessness.
Rainfall from the first of July through early September has amounted to less than one-third of an inch. Historically, the period records more than three inches during the period. Late September and October are typically wetter, Boros says, and he expects the fire danger to subside in coming weeks.
SAN FRANCISCO PLAZA MAKE-OVER PLANS GAIN TRACTION
The city of Cuenca has completed the purchase of three buildings fronting San Francisco plaza and the director of the city’s Barranco Foundation says that final plans are being made for the long-delayed restoration project.
The step, according to Benjamin Cordero, is the relocation of most of the vendors who occupy the center of the square. According to Cordero and others, much of the merchandise sold in this area is made in China and other far-eastern countries. “We want the square to be the domain of Cuencano and Ecuadorian craftspeople,” Cordero says. “We want to expand what is already there and make the area a major attraction in the city." According to Cordero, the Otavalans are on the north side of the square and Centro Artesanal (CEMUART) is located on the west side.
Final plans for the plaza’s redesign will be decided within six months, Cordero says. Renovation work on San Francisco church, on the south side of the plaza, is nearing completion.
‘MAGIC GRAIN’ QUINOA PROMOTED BY GOVERNMENT RESEARCH AGENCY
In recent years, natural food enthusiasts have proclaimed it the healthiest, most complete grain in the world. Meanwhile, residents of the Ecuadorian and Peruvian highlands have been happily eating it for centuries.
Whether or not it contains magical qualities or not, the Ecuadorian government has decided to push more quinoa cultivation. On Friday, Ecuador’s National Institute for Agricultural Research held a “field day” in Imbabura Province to promote the indigenous food.
The Institute is promoting a variety of the grain called Tunkahua, which it claims has a protein content of almost 16%. The grain can be grown at elevations as high as 3,100 meters, is frost-tolerant and can grow in high humidity conditions.
Quinoa is available in all Ecuadorian mercados and supermarkets.
Photo caption: Villa Nova Inn is on the Rio Tomebamba, just east of the Calle Miguel Escalinatas.