Our first week in Cuenca, our hosts told us about Turi, and we finally got a chance to check it out. Turi is a little community way up in the hills to the south of Cuenca. Turi features little artisan shops, places to eat, the obligatory church, and stunning views of the city of Cuenca.
We decided to walk there and explore a new area of Cuenca on the way. We crossed one of the four gorgeous rivers, and found some beautiful flowers. We saw some cool statues and awesome graffiti. There were some steep hills to climb before we even got to The Stairs ™. There are 439 of them winding up the hillside, and they are thoughtfully numbered so I didn’t have to neurotically count them. Unfortunately, I still had to climb them if we wanted to reach the top. It was quickly evident that four weeks in Cuenca was not enough time to acclimate to the 8000+ foot altitude. I think we took a break about every twenty steps.
At the top we were rewarded with some gorgeous views of the entire city. There is also a pretty little church, and we had heard there is a giant swing that swings you out over the city. We asked about it, and were told it was closed. We looked for it anyway, asking directions twice, but still couldn’t find it. You’d think a giant swig on top of a large hill/small mountain would be easy to find, but eventually, we had to admit defeat. We took in the views for a bit before heading down.
The next day, the afternoon activity at our Spanish school turned out to be… a trip to Turi. Back we went (by taxi this time), with a couple more students and a guide – our teacher Fernanda. At the top she asked about the swing for us, and this time we found it. It turned out we needed to go through a non-descript door in the hillside. Then it was a dollar to climb yet more steps to the highest point in Turi, and another dollar for the swing. Stephanie and I were the only ones of our little group to brave the swing.
Some locals had said the swing was fine; others warned it was “muy peligroso.” The swing did look a little dangerous. It was suspended between two trees, and was tied up to a post at the top of the hill. it was only after I paid my dollar (and volunteered to go first) that I found that the swing was then pulled further up to the top of a little shack, and it was from there that I was about to be flung into space. The one-seater swing had a seatbelt, but that was it; there were none of the types of harnesses that we might reassuringly find at such attractions back home.
Swallowing my slight fear of heights, I took a deep breath as the swing operator counted, “Tres…dos…uno!” and hurled me into the sky. After the first stomach-dropping swing, it was really enjoyable, and, as promised, featured great views of the city. Stephanie went next, and for all her supposed love of heights, she was still suitably scream-y. The whole thing is captured on video for your viewing pleasure. Now available in both Elliott and Stephanie.
After swinging, Fernanda led us to a ceramic studio, where we admired many fine, hand-crafted ceramics. There were several pieces we loved, and we debated which one we’d buy if we lived here. The ceramic studio was supposed to be the whole point of the tour, but I think it was a bit overshadowed by the death swing.