By Wendy Jane Carrel, M.A.
Now that the immigration office has transferred from Cuenca to Azogues, never fear. It’s actually easy to get there and worth the excursion, especially if you like to explore.
If you’re car-less (that’s me, no car) you can go by taxi for $15 to $20 depending on the driver. Ask ahead, plan ahead. Or, find your way to the central bus station on the east side of Cuenca near the airport and locate one of two companies that send buses almost every half-hour during the day. It’s about a 40-minute $2 ride.
If you have a car, you can make the 18-mile trip in less than half-an-hour.
The main bus station of Azogues is on the west side of town at the bottom of a hill. With some effort, you can walk to town uphill, or go by taxi (5-7 minutes).
Azogues, the capital of Cañar province, is about the same elevation as Cuenca, 8,260 feet. As indicated, it’s hilly unless you stay around the main plaza. I like Azogues because it is small and tidy and the area was the original home of the Cañari and Peleusi Indians. It has sacred ancestry. The current population is around 40,000.
Ingapirca, one of the best preserved (my opinion) ancient palaces and shamanic ritual sites of Ecuador is only minutes away from Azogues (another worthwhile excursion).
According to Wikipedia, the city as we know it today was founded in 1825. On top of one of the highest hills is the Santuario de la Virgen de la Nube. It is worth visiting, especially when the Virgin is celebrated on January 1.
Panama hats are produced in Azogues, Zhumir (a heavy cane sugar liquor) is produced outside of town. Nutrileche, milk drunk throughout Ecuador, is from the province. There’s a custom tailor in the downtown, Luis Morocho of Figurin.
Some of my healing friends live in Azogues or just outside the city. They like it. In nearby Chuchipata/Javier Loyola you can find the new National University of Education with focus on technology, agriculture, and public health (a nursing school is in the works). There is a rumor that a Cuenca “international” airport might be built in southern Cañar province as the current airport can only handle domestic flights.
Details for the new immigration office:
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana
Avenida 16 de Abril y Babahoyo, Azogues
Tel. 593 7 407-5942
More photos can be seen at Brian and Dena Haines’ blog
Wendy Jane Carrel, M.A., a senior health care consultant and journalist, has been based in Cuenca while researching health care options in Chile, Ecuador, and Mexico for the last three years. She loves to explore the world and has lived or worked on four continents in over 40 countries.