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Thursday, April 16, 2015

A Field Trip Day

Aloha Everyone,

One of the advantages of being in the El Centro (Old City) is our proximity to so many interesting places. Today's walking field trip with Juana took us to two shopping areas. First one, is called "Plaza de las hippes." The small  plaza has temporary stalls offering native handicrafts.

The item that intrigued me most is called Tagua made from nuts of palms found only in certain locations in South America. Commonly known as ivory palms, the seeds or "tagua nuts" are hard and resembles elephant ivory.

Fashioned into buttons, beads, figurines and jewelry, they can be used in their natural state or dyed in different colors. Promoted as "environmentally correct" and organic handicraft from Ecuador, the Tagua (vegetable ivory) stimulates local economies.

Juan Andres showing Tagua bracelets from his stall

Maydi and her mother Yolanda

The second shopping areas is called Cemuart and this place specializes in marketing handcraft goods from local artisans. There were stores for dresses, hats, paintings, musical instruments, jewelries, ceramics, etc. Juana introduced us to Sr Domingo an accomplished and noted musician and craftsman of musical instruments.

Sr Domingo demonstrated his skill in carving and playing small flutes made of turkey bones.

He showed and played other instruments but when he took out a Shakuhachi (traditional bamboo instrument of Japan) and started to play, it was an unreal experience. My Mother teaches Japanese musical instruments in California. Her master in Japan is a renowned Shakuhachi maker and master in Japan. My mother's teacher would be thrilled to meet and play the Shakuhachi together with Sr. Domingo.

A quick lunch at a restaurant called GOZA. Our server, Freddie was amiable and charming young man and while we tried our best to speak in Spanish, Freddie tried to practice his English with us.

Zona Refrescante is owned by Sr. Telmo Gonzales. Their specialties are dishes of South America, Caribbean  and Ecuador. Sr. Gonzales, a very friendly and affable individual kept our company by discussing different topics of common interests. Originally from Columbia, he has lived in Cuenca for 34 years and Sr Gonzales loves it here.

J.J. and I walked back in the chilly night listening to the street musicians who played for a small donations from passersby.

Aloha -- Cathi