This really could be titled “East of Cuenca” as we hired Eddie to show us around some towns we had seen before but with a different intent.
The primary interest for me was to visit a family weaving business reviewed in Trip Advisor. I thought of my cousin Biffy who had been serious about weaving before she became an involved working mother. Fibers from the cabuya planta, similar to agave, are used to protect parts of the wool from dyes when creating the design, similar to wax in batiking. Dyes are made from seed pods, black walnuts, cochineal insects, and the indigo plant. There have various looms to make their products including makanas which a lot of the women use to carry children, firewood, etc. on their backs or just as a shawl. They algo make scarves, rugs, bags, and even fabric used to decorate shoes.
Here is the owner who wants to keep this ancient ancestral Cañari tradition alive. I am wearing my red and black makana!
Then it was on into the town of Gualaceo which we had just driven through in 2012. It really is much larger than I expected!
The market area was moved from the central plaza to a relatively distant new building much to the disappointment of the vendors. Customers are less apt to buy since they have to trek to do so!
There are all kinds of potatoes! About twenty-five types of flowers are used to Horchata, a hot drink I need to try now that I know what it is.
Of course, there were cute kids…
Here is a video showing the weaving and dying, etc. and a bit of the market…… 8:29 minutes. There is even a large live turkey.
We moved along through Chordaleg, which is a jewelry town, and then into SigSig where women walk along the street going about their business weaving Panama hats without even needing to look at what they are doing. Amazing. We treated Eddie to lunch, which is often the big meal here. A fixed lunch cost $2.50 which included a bowl of hearty soup, a main plate of rice with a few peas, a bit of salad, and small serving of chicken, all tasty, a large glass of mixed fruit juice, and a thin sliver of a canned peach.
Since we hadn’t seen the museum in 2012 Eddie thought it was a must. It turns out to be a combination of museum and Panama hat factory. The museum part showed some hats in progress, hat forms, and one mighty large hat, perhaps for Paul Bunyon.
There is a store with hats, bags, Christmas ornaments, nested straw boxes, etc., but my fun came being able to buy a hat, finished just for me, from the factory. I spied a chili red hat on a table with some others. Eddie said I could try it on, but alas, it was too big. A kind young woman who had shown us how the hats are steamed to keep the form, told me that she could size it for me! Back into the steamer it went, but it was still too big. Ah, once the band would be sewn it the size would be smaller. We watched her do that with an assurance and rapidity of having done that a few gazillion times using a mechanical sewing machine with an added motor. Then she wanted to add the hat band so, of course, I choose black. (I miss my chili red and black Mini Cooper Clubman). The next step was to wipe a white liquid sizing all over it to help maintain its form. That dried pretty quickly, then she put it in another machine to permanently attach the black ribbon, and I was ready to wear it with my matching makana! A new custom made hat for me for only $25!
That ended our day so we whizzed back to Cuenca with me ready to go somewhere stylin! But not tonight!