Despite them being solidly joined together, there is no ground transport between Panama and South America, through the area known as the Darien Gap. This is partly because the swamp and jungle make road building difficult (making this the one break in the pan-American highway) and partly because environmental concerns have militated against solving those problems. More recently the area has become politically dangerous for those who do attempt an off-road crossing. All of which serves to explain why I flew out of Panama.
For reasons that made sense to me, I flew not to the nearest country Colombia, but to Ecuador to the south. My flight landed in the coastal town of Guayaquil from where I took a scenic four-hour minivan ride up to Cuenca in a valley in the Andes.
Cuenca is another Spanish colonial town, founded in 1557 on the usual grid layout. Having initially been a centre for agricultural produce, in the nineteenth century it became a major exporter of quinine and straw hats (such as the Panama).
UNESCO say that the city illustrates the “successful fusion of different societies and cultures in Latin America” that is “vividly symbolized by the layout and townscape”. I’m not sure I can demonstrate that for you but it is a pleasant town with some attractive buildings, many from the nineteenth century.
I had difficulty settling on my choice of building for the Lego model but finally went for this church.
Which turned out to be harder to build than it looked.