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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!!!