Officially, it’s the Puente Mariano Moreno. To dozens of expats and some Cuencanos, however, it’s known simply as Alan’s bridge in honor of Alan Stiles, the man who kept it graffiti-free for 13 years.
Over the past two weekends, friends of Alan have gathered for painting parties at the bridge that crosses the Rio Tomebamba, connecting the historic district to Parque de la Madre.
Since suffering a serious neck injury in November, Alan has been unable to paint over the graffiti.
“Originally, we intended to just paint out the graffiti but the bridge was looking pretty threadbare and we thought, why not paint the whole thing,” said one member of the painting crew. “We’re doing this for a dear friend and we decided to make the most of it,” he said.
A celebrated San Francisco architect before he retired and moved to Cuenca in 2005, Alan was on hand Sunday to survey the work and greet passersby. “This is wonderful and these guys are doing a great job,” he said.
Soon after moving into the home he renovated on Paseo Tres de Noviembre, close to the bridge, Alan assumed the job of keeping graffiti off the bridge. “I love Cuenca but I hate the graffiti,” he explained. “I knew I couldn’t take care of the whole town but decided to take care of my little corner of it.”
Over the years, Alan’s project has been featured in local newspaper articles and television features, not to mention dozens of Facebook posts. He doesn’t care much for publicity and when reporters wanted interviews he called on his wife, Elinor. “The only thing important to me is keeping the bridge clean. I let other people do the talking,” he says.