The Last Generation

One of the charming factors about being in Cuenca is the Indigenous People and the various and sundry apparel they wear. Each area has a traditional costume and appearance right down to the hat color and style. You can stand near the Parque Calderon on Saturdays and see a myriad of color explosions scurry past as they seem to always be in a hurry. Lately I have noticed though that the majority of these individuals are female and of a more mature status.

 

Indigenous Couple

Indigenous Couple

 

The traditions are at serious risk, as the majority of the males and especially the younger generation have turned to western garb. I also think that the locals associate specific stigmas against the Indigenous peoples and cast them in lower income jobs such as street pedaling of fruits, candies and plants or flowers.

 

Indigenous Lady Weaving Straw Baskets

Indigenous Lady Weaving Straw Baskets

 

It is sad to think that this colorful and creative garb will soon be a thing of the past. One can’t help but express remorse at this prospect. I would guess that 80% of the Indigenous women that still maintain the appropriate wear and clothing are older than 50. Some are resorting to begging, as I am positive they cannot find employment and left to fend for themselves. I have seen only a couple of men that dress in their historical garments and they are mostly from the same clan.

 

Indigenous Man

Indigenous Man

 

I sincerely hope that the Ecuadorian people can address this situation and begin to help these endangered sects of people. It may already be under way, but I have not heard whether it is a funded program or not, at this time. I truly hope that before its is too late someone or some agency steps in and helps these people out or it will in fact be the last generation and I would guess at the end of 30 years this attire will be a thing of the past.

 

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

Ladies Looking at Goods at The New Cathedral

 

A Younger Indigenous Lady

A Younger Indigenous Lady

 

A Mature Lady Banking

A Mature Lady Banking

 

 

Hopefully you can experience this wonderful tradition before its too late. Take a trip to Cuenca and I promise you will see many Indigenous women dressed in their traditional apparel. Saludos mi amigos!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of The Day #28

Streetwalking in Cuenca is Always Exciting

Streetwalking in Cuenca is Always Exciting

 

I ran into this young man helping a store advertise on Saturday. I am continually amazed at how easy the Ecuadorians handle themselves on stilts. His partner was a “Mime” and was on my side of the street. As I approached, he offered a flyer with all the store’s promotions.

 

 

It seems there is always a parade or some type of event going on in Cuenca and I love streetwalking in Cuenca. You never know what you will run into when you turn the corner.

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Okay so I am not really a “little” piggy. I am a rather large piggy for my height. That is one of the reasons I keep coming back to Cuenca is to help myself lose weight. Each time I visit I lose ten to fifteen pounds. This is obviously a result of walking everywhere I go and significantly more than I do back home.

 

It is also a result of “The Amoeba” that exists and all Ex Pats meet about ten days into their visits. I have lost about 8 pounds and a notch on my belt, so I am well on my way! Saturday in Cuenca is “Market Day” and the locals come to Cuenca, shop and try to secure their food, supply and trinket needs.

 

I started walking around after my fabulous Thai dinner and wound up on Presidente Cordova, on the south side of the San Francisco Market area. It is basically an entire square block with booths and small paths, that lead every which way through the maze of cubicles dedicated to various and sundry items. I am always fascinated by what you find at these markets. I was not disappointed this past Saturday.

 

Aisle Between Booths at the San Francisco Market

Aisle Between Booths at the San Francisco Market

 

This ia typical photo of one of the booths in the middle of the square and as you can see the stall is offering a variety of merchandise. Of special note was the amount of children’s backpacks being sold at a majority of the booths. I guess as school is about to start again, they must be a popular item.

 

Booth in Middle of the Market

Booth in Middle of the Market

 

Along the North side of the square and actually across the street is a set of booths that retail mainly clothing products made by local artisans. You can find a great poncho, shirt, scarf, bag or hoodie, if you can locate the appropriate size. This is an issue at times. The thing I like about the entire market is that you shop knowing the first price quoted is the “Gringo” price and if you don’t barter you are crazy. That is half the fun in my mind and the vendors seem to relish the practice.

 

Saturday Markets for Woven and Various Apparel

Saturday Markets for Woven Goods and Various Apparel

 

 

As you leave the San Francisco Market square you come upon the Flower Market section and I could spend hours looking at their crafts. Sometimes I do actually spend a large amount of time, as their talents are very impressive. I always seem to take massive amounts of photos and cannot walk by this market, which is open daily, without at least one photo.

 

Flower Market at the Sanctuary by the New Cathedral

Flower Market at the Sanctuary by the New Cathedral

 

 

As I left the flower market and went across the street I noticed that several booths lined the side of the New Cathedral and were selling various items. The first one made me wonder if I had taken a wrong turn. This was my first time to see a Ecuadorian dressed up like an American Indian. He was playing the pan flute, which were also being offered for sale, along with CD’s of their music!

 

Ecuadorian Dressed Up Like an American Indian

Ecuadorian Dressed Up Like an American Indian

 

As I strolled along the wall I encountered many more vendors and tried to capture as many different wares as were being sold. It was impossible and I could only capture a few that I will share with you now. As you are keenly aware, I am a “Hat” freak and really, really like to collect hats. I found many that would suit my tastes, but I also have to remember that I have three and a half more weeks to make a choice!

 

A Hat Vendor

A Hat Vendor

 

I was drawn to this booth as a result of the tiny figurines and the intricate artwork displayed in their dolls. It was amazing and so detailed. One can kind of get a picture of the size by comparing the items to the hand in the photo. This was directly beside a booth of ceramic cars and trucks modeled after the wooden toys in the US built in the early 90’s. I asked the clerk how long it took to make the ceramic vehicles and he told me 30 minutes each. I couldn’t believe it.

 

Small Doll Replicas

Small Doll Replicas

 

It was strange to be back in a time zone and see these wares at the incense and globe booth. For a minute I thought I had traveled back in time and landed in the 60’s. Then I woke up! Really found this strange, but Ecuador did legalize small amounts of Ganja recently.

 

Lampshade Vendor

Lampshade and Incense Vendor

 

This pottery booth contained a wonderful collection of hand painted ceramic wares and drew my attention immediately. If I actually resided in Cuenca, I would lay out the few dollars needed to purchase some of these vases. They have no shortage of flowers that can be used to fill the vases and I can look at fresh flowers every day of my life. My wife Kim, said one of the reasons she married me was a bouquet of roses I sent her after our first date. She told me many years later she was hooked at that point. So guys buy your lady flowers!

 

Pottery Vendor

Pottery Vendor.

 

Again my “Hat” fetish was drawn in to play and I had to stop and look at these of higher quality than the first booth. I could look at hats all day. I tend to buy hats with broad brims, but am open to a Fedora style and may make that step this trip.

 

Upgraded Hat Vendor

Upgraded Hat Vendor

 

 

I hope you enjoyed the photos and I encourage you to dedicate at least a half day (and make it a Saturday) to shop at these markets. You will find great bargains and wonderful souvenirs that you can either share with friends and family or keep yourself. Saludos mi amigios!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humitas, Quimbolitos y Tamales

After a day of walking around Cuenca and photographing the amazing architecture, one builds an appetite. My friends at Mio Tours introduced me to this rather small eating establishment in Cuenca. It is locate off Gran Columbia on calle Presidente Borrero before you get to calle Simon Bolivar. You really have to look for it as it only serves about 12 people at a time with a total of 5 tables I believe. As you walk the street you see this blackboard operating as a identification for the restaurant.

 

Sign on the Exterior of the Restuarant

Sign on the Exterior of the Restuarant

 

 

Each item is warmed and served in a banana leaf, that is fairly sticky with the sweet sugar applied to the item oozing out of the leaf. You have to unfold it and this is a messy operation, but drives your senses wild as the aroma of the item erupts from each serving. You are offered either coffee or tea to drink with your meal and I chose tea. I am not really a soft drink person and know the dangers associated with their regular consumption. Coffee in the late afternoon keeps me up late at nights anymore.

 

Banana Leaf Wrapping for All Three Items

Banana Leaf Wrapping for All Three Items

 

The item served first was a Humitas and was my favorite in the long run, as I am a carnivorous individual and like my protein from meats. The Humitas has pork inside and is swathed in the sweet corn meal that all of the products are wrapped in. It also includes a slice of egg, a few bites of vegetables and a couple of slices of chili peppers on top.

 

Humitas

Humitas

 

The ritual one goes through to eat these fantastic morsels and indigenous mainstays is unique. One squeezes a lime on the item, adds a little Aji which is the Ecuadorian version of salsa and takes their spoon and dives in to this sweet and tasty morsel.

 

Aji and Lime

Aji and Lime

 

 

The next morsel served was a very sweet and typical item that I imagine has been around for centuries and is basically just the corn meal folded into the banana leaf with out any stuffing. This is the Tamale and is not associated with the typical tamale filled with meat in Mexico and the US. Kim and Learned this on our trip in March of 2013.

 

Tamale

Tamale

 

 

The third and final item served was a Quimbolitos. It is a Tamale that is stuffed with raisins and has a few extra unidentifiable flavors. It is also has a sweet flavoring and resembles the Tamale. In my photo you can plainly see the raisins in the item and can imagine the wonderful taste.

 

 

Quimbolitos Stuffed With Raisins

Quimbolitos Stuffed With Raisins

 

All of this costs under $2.00 US and I promise you will leave this establishment full. I could not add another item and having sampled the three variations I will (and have) go back and only eat the Humitas. That is unless someone else is buying and I don’t want to hurt their feelings! Ha! I was not able to capture the lady’s name that runs the restaurant, but I did manage to take her photograph and this is her. Notice she is smiling as most of the people in this wonderful country do consistently!

 

 

Owner of the Restaurant

Owner of the Restaurant

 

As I have about three and a half weeks left in Cuenca I am sure I will stop by again and sample her wonderful Humitas, Quimbolitos y Tamales. Saludos!

 

 

I love this food! Stop Taking my Photo!

I love this food! Please Stop Taking my Photo and Let Me Eat!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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