Thursday, November 6, 2014

LIVING IN CUENCA - Celebrating CUENCA's 2014 Festival de Artesanias de America CIDAP

 What I love most about living in Cuenca is the abundance of arts and entertainment.  Every week one may find an evening concert to attend, an art exhibit to explore, see dancing in the streets or a festive parade marching by, listen to talented musicians in the parks, and on and on.  Most of the entertainment is FREE and FABULOUS!

Then there is the Festival of Artists that happens twice a year.  Artisans from Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Columbia and other countries come to Cuenca, set up their tents, and display their artistic creations for sale.  This year's feria was grander than the last few I've attended.  The crowds were greater, the art was more amazing than ever, and the festivities were so numerous, I missed so much!  What I did see and attend consumed me (and my wallet) for four glorious days of music, dance, food, art, beautiful people, and the 194th anniversary celebration of Ecuador's independence from Spain.

Living in El Centro, two blocks from the Tomebamba River has it's advantages.  When my arms were loaded with wares, when I had to take a bathroom break, when I wanted to just take a break - I found myself 5 to 15 minutes "walking distance" away from my apartment.  At night I could watch the most amazing fireworks right from my terrace.  It was also a perfect meeting place for my peeps who shared these four fabulous days with me.  Yes, I still enjoy living in the heart of this fabulous Historic District, I still love my little Ecuadorian flat, and I still love LIVING IN CUENCA!  What's not to love?
This was one of the more artistic booths selling Tagua Jewelry.  My girlfriend bought a splendid piece from this artist.What Tagua is and how the jewelry is made
It take several month from the moment they collect the tagua nut, until the moment the product is made and ready to sell.

The tagua nut is a dried seed from the tagua palm tree, which grows in tropical rain forests of South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Brazil).

Tagua is also known as natural ivory or vegetable ivory, because of its similarity with ivory (it's hard, unbreakable, resistant and beautiful), but tagua is natural.  They don't have to kill elephant in order to get it.

The tagua nut comes in a fruit that carries multiples nuts. Each nut has a shell that contains the seed. This seed is the size of a chicken egg and is covered in a thin brown skin.

The nuts are sun-dried for 4 to 6 months before they can be worked with. Once dried, Tagua is carved and polished to a bright shine. Tagua's natural color is white but it is easy to dye and can be found in different bright or pastel light colors.

Handmade tagua jewerly is beautiful, colorful, resistant and unique.
One of my favorite booths - beautiful handmade bags from Guatamala.  Yes, I bought several of his little bags.

Talented street musicians graced the Tomebamba River.

It was fun seeing and talking to the colorful vendors from different countries......

......and stopping to photography the different dancers......

......and their dances told a story.

These lively musicians performed by the Broken Bridge (Puente Roto).

Another of my favorite artists - a (handsome) brother and (beautiful) sister, tutored at a very young age by their artist father - and their paintings were so detailed and beyond amazing.  The painting of Noah's Ark that we coveted cost $1,600.  Maybe next time!!

The weather was glorious!  Warm, sunny, rainy, stormy, hot - unpredictable each day.  Yet, four days of mostly blue skies and warm temperatures.  One of the joys of living in Cuenca is being surrounded by mountains, having four rushing rivers running through the city, and being graced with amazing historic churches.

Delicious coconut balls

Our city is CLEAN - thanks to the blue people who sweep the streets day and night.  
How I appreciate them, and tell them so when I see them.

Parque Del La Madre was packed with families attending the festivities.  

The tables were ready for the crowds, and the vendors were anticipating their sales.

Heading down the stairs from Calle Larga leads us smack into the vendors tents lining the Tomebamba River.

Admiring the fine detailed work of the Saraguro people of the southern Ecuadorian Andes. 
They are a humble and gentle people - and their attire sets them apart.

You know I'm not afraid of color - one of the reasons living in this colorful country makes me happy!

Some of the vendors would weave while they waited for their sales.

This beautiful woman from Baños-Ambato demonstrated her skill.  

Colorful table coverings

How can one resist these beautiful pieces?  I wanted to buy one of everything!

Un Colibri - Ecuadorians love hummingbirds!

Rustic pottery was another of my purchases.

Every artist was dressed so beautifully, and it is how many of the more traditional people dress daily.

I admire the beauty of the aged Ecuadorian women - this vendor was so classy and of a gentle spirit.

The banks of the Tomebamba River was a perfect place for the crowds to take a break.

Such beautiful and talented dancers......

.......a dance of romance......

......and their final bow!  The crowds' applause makes them smile.

Artistic drawings grace this wall along the Tomebamba River

Ahhhhh, the beautiful children of Cuenca.  She admires herself and the final face-painting art......

.....then turns to the photographer for a full-view shot!
Isn't she beautiful?

Another wee one takes her turn......

......then turns her sweet face to the camera!

How blessed Bo and I are to be living in this beautiful country!

Grilled Platanos.......

......stuffed with cheese!  A favorite treat for the people of Ecuador.

My sister-girlfriend, Lorena, is ready to indulge on her cheese-filled platano!  She arrived one day before this 4-day art event - and is here to stay!  Does she look happy?  You betcha!  It's taken her 11 months to sell her Portland, Oregon home, pack her container, and arrive to her new city.
I told her that the entire town of Cuenca was celebrating her.  I think she believed me.
Bienvenida mi amiga preciosa!!! 
Colorful twirling dancers make me happy!

A bystander joins in to give this dancer a twirl!

The crowd and dancers clap and cheer them on.

The crowds cover the stairs under the beautiful blue skies.....

Gourd creations of an artist from Uruguay whose work I so admired.
The large fat carved and painted Armadillo Gourd (calabaza) was my favorite purchase.  
A painted rock says it all - "Jesus YES I Love You" - Daily I thank Him for guiding Bo and me to this glorious country and for surrounding me with beautiful people and outstanding art.  

The next art festival will be in April.  So, come on down (or up, or across.....)


  1. Not words, but pictures. We can feel the love you have for the people, culture and beauty of your new home. Everyday there is so much beauty from God's creation that we should all be thanking God. We are blessed, and just need to look around and love and be thankful for what we all have. We thank you for how you share your adventures with the people and the country. God bless you and Bo. Paulette and Jeremiah

    1. Hi Paulette and Jeremiah,
      Your words ring true for me! Every day I am thankful for my life in a country with people who embrace us and continue to show us such kindness and love. So glad you enjoyed the picture story of our four days of festivities. I am such an art-o-holic - and this past 4-day weekend made me so happy. Maybe one day you, too, will experience one of these festivals.

  2. As always, your wonderful photos tell such a great story. Having just arrived back from our two months in the Us, we only got out on Sunday afternoon but still enjoyed it.

    1. Welcome back, Stu and Donna - to your home away from home!
      I hope your two months back to the USA was fabulous, but more that you are glad to be back. How wonderful that you were able to experience at least an afternoon enjoying the talented artisans and the happy crowds shopping. As for me, I was able to enjoy four days of looking and shopping - and I think I've satisfied my "art addiction" until the next festival in the spring.
      Hope to see you around town,

  3. How I have enjoyed these blogs, Linda. For a long period I got none, and now I am thankful that they are coming again. I feel like at some point there will be a book of your experiences. I enjoy my travels experiences in Cuenca sitting right here at my computer in Texas.

    1. How nice to hear from you again, Shadley!
      Glad you are receiving the blog posts again (wonder what happened there?).
      A book? You continue to be one of my best fans - may you continue to enjoy your travels in Cuenca through my lens and postings.
      More to come.....

  4. Oh, yes, welcome to dear, Lorena! Can't help but love her--and you and Bo, of course! That's a given. Funny how you meet some people and they immediately feel like life-long friends! Stunning images, dear Linda. Loved hearing about the tagua. I knew NOTHING about that!

    Hugs from your neighbor,

    1. Hi Kathy,
      Oh, your words are so sweet - and we feel the same! I'm so glad we are neighbors and friends. So glad you continue to enjoy my blog and photography - and that you now know about Tagua. Lorena bought a beautiful necklace and told me all about it (I, too, knew nothing about this). Let's take a walk up to Lorena's soon and see the progress on her place.
      I'll be in touch,

  5. Really terrific pictures and story!! You are very talented...

    1. Hola Amigos,
      Thank you for the kind compliment on my photography and photo-journaling. Glad you continue to enjoy the blog. Miss you both and hope you are doing well, back to your healthy self, and enjoying each day in our beautiful city. We hope to see you SOON.
      Con Amor,

  6. Greetings Bo and Linda!
    My wife Joni and I love your blog and pictures! We live in Coos Bay , Oregon now and are inspired by many blogs to journey to Cuenca in February to see if this is where God would have us to move. We already want to sell all we own and move, but feel due diligence is in order! Please keep writing and we will be reading! Do you have airline recommendations from Eugene? Thanks so much!
    Best Regards!
    Gary & Joni

    1. Welcome to our BLOG, Gary and Joni,
      Ahhhhh, beautiful Coos Bay, Oregon! What a beautiful place you live in. I have such fond memories of driving along the Oregon Coast and I am thankful for the years Bo and I experienced living in Oregon. Now, Cuenca, Ecuador is home. We love this area because it has many of the beautiful things we loved about Oregon. You will love your visit here, I'm sure. Go on line and check with Cheapoair - until you find a great flight. I'd check from Eugene as well as Portland. You can fly right into Cuenca (LONG flight) or into Guayaquil, then get a bus or private driver to bring you to Cuenca (a 4 hour drive, but beautiful through the Cajas). Many say it is "dangerous" and "too scary" - but Bo and I do it every time we go and come back and forth from the USA. We ain't scared!!! We came without ever being here, and have been here two years Dec 5th - with NO regrets. So, come on down, and stay in touch - we would be happy to meet you and share our personal experiences here honestly and openly with you. God is faithful, and He'll show you His perfect plan for you as you walk out your prayers and experience His peace.
      Keep on reading - and do stay in touch. We love meeting fellow Oregonians.

  7. Great coverage of our city's wonderful artisan market and entertainment. I heard that twice as many people attended compared to last years. Thank you, Linda, for the beautiful photos of the Fiesta.

    1. I'm so glad you continue to enjoy my photography and posts of our beautiful city, Jeremiah.
      Yes, it appeared to be well-attended, and it was so much fun being a part of the amazing attendance this year. Keep on reading!

  8. Linda,
    I have read that you teach English to some of your Ecuadorian friends. This is something that I would like to do when I get there. What books do you use? flashcards? tools? I thought I could get them before I came. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Have A Great Day!

    1. Hola Juanita,
      Welcome to our Blog! Yes, we do have a group of faithful attendees who are hungry to learn English. We have been teaching them for almost a year, and they are advancing and so are we, as they help us with our Spanish. I am creative in how I teach, so I cannot direct you to any specific teaching tools. Lots of lessons on-line, and we do a lot of reading and creative writing together. I'm sure there are fabulous teaching tools you could bring, but the gift teaching is in being creative and having the passion - that in itself is key!
      Best to you,

  9. Love you blog/ I am new here, and would like the address you have of the Greek yogurt maker. Thank you
    Stan youngsdv@gmail.com

    1. Welcome to our Blog, Stan! Glad you are enjoying my posts and photography. Also, WELCOME to Cuenca. I don't have the exact address (I'm in the USA right now), but the Greek Yogurt place is on Mariscal Sucre and heading towards General Torres. I think it's closer to Tarqui. It's on the left hand side, and it's just a little tiny narrow hole-in-the-wall. Look at my post on Friday Market Day for a photos of the front of the tienda. Let me know if you have success finding it. Their yogurt is THE BEST.
      Stay in touch and keep on reading. I hope to do a post soon.

  10. Love your blog. My husband and I are exploring the possibility of Ecuador. My Indian born husband wanted to try India first. After three years we decided this was not the right move for us. We have been back in the states for a year. I now have the courage and strength to explore the possibilities again. We are making the move for many os the same reasons you did. Thank you for the effort you put into your blog. The information and experiences you share in invaluable. Namaste.


Leave us your comments and I will respond with any questions you may have. Enjoy our Blog! Linda (y Bo)