Friday, September 11, 2015

Otavalo, Ecuador: Texture, Textiles and Tradition

--> The indigenous Otavaleños  (people from Otavalo) are famous for weaving textiles, usually made of wool (that is sometimes as black as a raven), which are sold at the famous Saturday market. Although the largest market is on Saturday, there is a very wide range of wares available throughout the week in the Plaza de los Ponchos, and the many local shops. The shops sell textiles such as handmade blankets, tablecloths, and much more.

During the market's peak, almost one third of the town becomes full of stalls selling textiles, tagua nut jewelry, musical instruments, dream catchers, leather goods, fake shrunken heads, indigenous costumes, hand-painted platters and trays, purses, clothing, spices, raw foods and spools of wool.

Otavalo was an area made up principally of farming communities due to the rich volcanic soils in this area, but with the growth of tourism, the town has begun to focus more on the making of handicrafts which have made the Saturday market a popular stop with visitors to Ecuador. Tourism has become the town's main industry. Further, Otavaleño have had notable success selling their goods abroad.

Staying in a hacienda while visiting Ecuador has become a “must do” for any trip to the Ecuadorian Andes. Experience historical farm houses that date back to the 16th century that have been renovated and changed into first class hotels, lodges and inns.

Haciendas in most cases were founded by Spanish settlers who received large gifts of land from the Spanish and then later Ecuadorian government and managed expansive farms using the local indigenous population as laborers. Most haciendas nowadays are reduced to a small area of land around the historical house after centuries of land reforms and selling of land parcels to neighboring farmers. But many of the remaining houses maintain their original architecture, gardens, towering trees and old world ambiance.

Hacienda Cusin is a luxurious country inn amidst eternally blooming gardens and nearly 400 years of colonial history. Located near Otavalo in a spectacular natural setting at the foot of the dormant Imbaburra volcano, activities like horseback riding, mountain biking, and high tea on the balcony are not to be missed.

Dating from the 1600s, Hacienda Zuleta lies at 9,600 feet above sea level in the spectacular Andean mountain range of Ecuador, 2 hours North of Quito. This eco-resort, nature sanctuary and working farm is the home of former Ecuadorian president, Galo Plaza and maintains an authenticity rarely found in modern accommodations. Guests of Hacienda Zuleta have access to our full horse barn and horseback riding trails, prime bird watching areas, mountain bikes, Andean Condor sanctuary, endangered Spectacle bear habitat area, organic gardens, working dairy farm, cheese factory and museum, hiking trails, local community culture and artisans and much more.

I will be posting the art I made based on travel to this wonderful place! I have been working on the series for months and am almost finished and ready to show the 8 pieces! Here are some photos from our trip which inspired my work.

Andes Near Otavalo at Hacienda Zuleta

Farms near Hacienda Zuleta

Beautiful Andes

The Andes are all around

Marketplace at Otavalo

Colorful Vegetables For Sale

Colorful Beans and Rice

Textiles Made by Locals

Potatoes in Many Hues and Shapes

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