National Geographic : 1968 Feb
Jukeboxes blared hit tunes from restaurant doorways. We sought a hotel in a quieter neighborhood-and heard sweeter music. An amorous young man peered up anxious ly for some sign of requital while a singer and a guitarist serenaded a shuttered window. Presently the two troubadours glanced at their watches, abruptly bowed to their em ployer, and walked away. "They were very good," I remarked. "And in great demand," lamented the young man with a pained look at the closed shutters. "I could afford to hire them for only fifteen minutes." Later I saw a transistorized version of this old Spanish custom: An ardent sidewalk swain played his serenade from a battery-operated phonograph mounted on a bicycle. Seasons Shift With Changing Landscape South of Cuenca no volcanoes pierce the high Andean horizons. Guillermo and I drove through all four seasons of Ecuador several times each day, from spring to summer to fall, from valley to wintry valley. Here cattle and goats grazed on drought shriveled hillsides; there oxen plowed black loam. Peasants bent over ripened barley, Eyes pinned to a tissue-paper balloon, all ages join a family festival in Cuenca. Kneeling torchbearer has fired a tallow-soaked rag held by wires in the mouth of the balloon, filling it with hot air that will lift it out of sight.