Cuenca was the other Ecuadorian place I was told I had to go to. I did enjoy Cuenca, a charming city in the Ecuadorian mountains. It has a friendlier vibe than other cities in the country. Cheaper and more interesting than Guayaquil, safer than Quito.
I liked Cuenca, but I did not love it. And after everything I had been told, it seemed over-rated. And while crime is low, I ran into another danger. Dogs.
Street dogs are often clever, and with that cleverness comes the understanding that it’s not in their best interest to fight with the humans that share their cities or towns. But Cuencan dogs have not learnt that lesson. The days and nights fill with loud barking as they contest their canine territories. Even the domesticated dogs want to join the fray, but they are always held back at the end of their leashes or behind metal gates.
Nearing the end of my Cuenca experience, I had arranged to meet some friends at a pub, and decided to walk there. Down one alley a dog came behind me and started barking, another street dog in front started barking also. I assumed they were having a go at each other, and walked out of their way. The dog in front, some type of labrador mix, came behind and took a bite from my jeans. I didn’t realise it, but it had ripped through the jeans and pierced the skin. The blood dried straight away, there wasn’t even a stain on the jeans, something to do with the mountain air. I yelled at the dog and it backed away. Then continued down the street to find a dead end. The dogs stood guard at one end of the street. I weighed my options – trust the shouting and get past them, or a physical confrontation in which I was likely to get bitten again. I knocked on a house and asked the guy who answered to call me a taxi.
After corrupt cops that nearly deported me on my entrance to the country, food poisoning in the middle of the trip, and a dog attack at the end, I got the message. I was not welcome in Ecuador. The mainland didn’t like me. A few days later I flew from Guayaquil to Lima, Peru.