Sunday, April 17, 2011

San Bartolome, Chordeleg and Gualaceo

Living in Cuenca like we do, we forget how wonderful it is to get out of the city and into the countryside.  We did just that during my sister's stay with us.  We took a one-day tour with Terra Diversa into the country.  We had a tour guide (Juan Carlos) and a driver (Pablo).  Our tour started at 9AM, meeting our van at the Hotel Victoria on Calle Larga.  We took a circular route through the mountains and returned via the main highway.  Along the way we took our time, admiring the sights, and stopping to take pictures. 

Here are pictures on our way to the village of San Bartolome.

A beautiful sunny day

Patty, Mike, and Peggy

In the town of San Bartolome, we stopped at the main square where the church is located.  It is high up in the mountains overlooking Chordeleg.

Driving toward San Bartolome

San Bartolome

The church in San Bartolome

We stopped at a local home where we were served coffee, tea, and cookies.  Everything was delicious and the family was very gracious, letting us go into their home to use the restroom.

Also in San Bartolome, we stopped at the home / workshop of the Uyaguari family to admire the handmade guitars.  The decorative work is so detailed and precise.

Raw materials

Pieces used for decorative trim

Finished product

Armadillo shells used to make ...

these instruments

Then it was onto Chordeleg (a town of 5,500), known for the beautiful gold filligree and silver jewelry.  You'll also find woodcarvings, pottery, textiles and plenty of panama hats.  We strolled throughout the park, museum, and shops for an hour before having lunch.  Here are pictures of our visit to Chordeleg.

Beautiful park in Chordeleg

Museum pieces in Chordeleg

All handmade

Panama hats anyone?

What a beautiful work of art!

Even prettier in person

We had lunch at the Pampa Mesa Restaurant which is inside the beautiful Zhirogallo Gran Hotel.  The hotel is located across from the Mercado Municipal on the corner of Calle Guayaquil and Calle Rodrigo Borja.

Entrance to hotel

We ate lunch in this restaurant

 Next, we went about 10 km north to the town of Gualaceo (pop 42,000).  I learned that Gualaceo is nicknamed "El Jardin del Azuay" (the Garden of Azuay).  We stopped at the Feria Artesanal where I bought some baskets.  There were also fruits, vegetables, textiles, etc., all very reasonably priced. 

We went to see the orchids at Ecuagenera.  It is believed that there are more than 4,000 species of orchids in Ecuador, ranking Ecuador as one of the most richly populated areas in the world for growing orchids.  Ecuagenera was launched 53 years ago and by 1993, it had become the first Ecuadorian business to obtain legal permission to export orchids and now is the largest orchid exporter in the country.

Here are pictures of the grounds and the orchids at Ecuagenera.  I found it very interesting how the orchids get their start:  through in-vitro fertilization and remain in that protected state from 2 to 4 years.

Entrance to Ecuagenera

Resting a bit!

In-vitro fertilization. 
They are kept in this enviromnent from
two to four years, depending on the species.

Then they are planted in soil beds.

Indoor garden area, displaying the orchids.

Resembles a bull.

A monkey's face!

They enter their orchids in shows and have won many awards.

Our last stop before going home was to see a demonstration of the ikat weaving technique.  Ikat is a method of weaving that uses a resist dyeing process similar to tie-dye on the fibers.  The dye is applied prior to the threads being woven to create the final fabric pattern or design.  Traditionally, and still commonly, a back-strap loom is used, as was the case in this family that we visited.  The children start learning this craft at age 7. 

The newly dyed and thoroughly washed bundles are tied onto the loom. The patterns are usually decided by the weaver as the warp threads are tied.  Weavers will adjust the warp repeatedly as the weaving progresses to maintain pattern alignment.  Patterns can be created in the vertical, horizontal or diagonal.

Here are pictures of the family that we visited.  The daughters were dyeing the fibers and the father was weaving, using the loom.

The daughters wash, card, spin, and dye the fibers.

The washed fibers drying in the sun.

The father is weaving the old-fashioned way
with a back-strap loom.

Patty wearing the finished product.

No comments:

Post a Comment