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Once were Gondwanan

Pumapungo, Ecuador

ECUADOR | Monday, 19 December 2011 | Views [1313]

The Banco Central Pumapungo is a museum and park on the actual remains of the Tomebamba excavations, in the city of Cuenca itself.

The museum has an excellent exhibition of the culture of the different indigenous people of Ecuador and the regions they come from. There is also a spooky display of tsantsas, shrunken human heads used in rituals. The display is very interesting and tasteful (not exploitative) but I found it unnerving all the same, with dimmed lights, indigenous music and sounds evocative of the forest. Nowadays the heads of sloths are used, instead of those of humans, but I have to sympathise with the poor sloths. (No photos are allowed in the museum, and a sign at the entrance also states that for the safety of visitors, no guns, food or drinks are allowed either.)

The park of Pumapungo is lovely, with well signed remains & explanations. There are beautiful grounds with gardens growing traditional medicinal plants (again, signed) lovely winding paths with shelters and more information, leading to a bird enclosure, with several species of South American birds (many endangered) enclosed in separate aviaries. The aviaries were not huge but were attractively and cleanly maintained.

Leaving the park via a steep stair case, you pass a gate looking on to a paddock where a few camelids graze, very charming. Entry to the park and museum is free, I don’t know why locals don’t visit and use it as a park, even if they don’t want to look at the ruins, but when I was there, there was only one couple (tourists) and one family in the park itself. Perhaps it’s something to do with Cuenca weather, because as I was leaving, once again, inevitably it seemed, it started to rain, as it had almost every day I had been in Cuenca. I was leaving for the border the next day, and towards the desert, where I could expect drier weather.

Tags: ecuador, incas, museum, south america, travel


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