August 05, 2005

Community Centre in Dos Mangas

When we arrived in Dos Mangas early on Thursday evening, we were shown to this house where an old man and his wife were living and where we could stay the night. The couple was really friendly and immediately made space for us in the house. Later we walked with the man to the village’s new community centre. It had been built thanks to a donation from Spain and we were invited to attend the opening ceremony. It was quite amusing to sit there in the open air in the middle of no-where, surrounded by open landscape and farmings on plastic chairs in a big circle with the villagers. The music was played extremely loud from the massive loudspeakers and the ceremony lasted a long time with various speakers talking about their contributions to the new community centre. The centre is going to serve as a safe meeting point for the children of the village. Later food was served and there was some traditional dancing by the children and mothers.

Tina and Kath

The coast, Bahia/Canoa

Bahia de Caraquez and Canoa are two towns on the northern coast of Ecuador separated from each other by a river estuary, crossed in 15 minutes boat plus a half an hour bus ride. We arrived in Bahia after dark which seemed like a very friendly and small beach resort. The next morning we left for Canoa for the day. Whilst waiting for the bus in San Vicente we saw an odd crowd of women queuing for the bank to open because it was the day to collect social security money. When we arrived in Canoa we were struck by the peaceful and relaxed atmosphere in the small fishing town. All the people in the village seemed to know exactly everything about everyone in town. As a tourist you couldn't help to feel watched. The weather in Canoa was very cloudy because of the season. Late in the afternoon we returned to Bahia for the night.

Tina and Kath

Meeting with Victoria at Saquisili market (14 de Julio)

Victoria sells textile products, such as woven wall hangings, rugs and other handicrafts at Saquilsili market. She has a daughter aged six. Her husband ususally does the weaving that they sell, but when she is not at the market she helps as well. In the picture attached (see image directory), you can see Victoria in her traditional clothes. The clothes are from Intahausi.

Tina and Kath

Saquisili (14 de Julio)

Saquisili market is another of Ecuador's famous indigenous markets, only two hours south of Quito. The market takes place every Thursday morning and is different from the Otavalo market in that it is primarily for locals, not tourists. The market is divided into various sections, fruit and vegetables, meat, cotton, clothes, and other daily necessities for the locals. Like Otavlo market the men and women mainly wear their traditional dress to the market. It is an important social and cultural affair and not only meant for shopping. The men dress with wool ponchos, large sobrero hats typical of their town, and long plaited hair. The women wear lime coloured socks and beautiful embroidery on their blouses, along with long dark skirts.

Tina and Kath

July 28, 2005

Dos Mangas – Artesan working with Tagua Nuts (22 de Julio)

The village has a workshop for sustainable ecotourism working with tagua that was setup 5 years ago with help from a Canadian donation. The village of Dos Mangas started working with Tagua nuts 10 years ago when the village was hit by water shortage in the area which damaged the farming.

Tagua is often called vegetable ivory because it is a forest product (a seed from the palm tree) and can be found in most parts of South America. It has mainly been used for button making in the 1920[s in which 1/5 of the US buttons were made of tagua.

Tagua grows in Dos Mangas communal forests. Orginally the nut is a liguid fruit that starts to grow. It stays inside the tree until it ripens and the liquid becomes solid. Then it falls from the tree and can be used after 7 months of drieing for tagua handicrafts. It can dry faster by lightbulbs but the workshop does not have an industrilised dryer unlike the big factories. Depending on the design the workshop engraves between 24–48 nuts in a day. They are a group of 5–6 workers (10 during the high season). When they are not working with the tagua the community is farming.

Normally it is only the men working with tagua, but when there are large orders the women work too, mostly in the simple tasks (sanding and shining). Only two women know a little of how to engrave.

Tina and Kath

Dos Mangas Community (21 de Julio)

Dos Mangas is a small village located 6 km inland from Manglaralto, situated on the south coast of Ecuador. The village of Dos Mangas has a population approaching 1000 people and is named after the two nearby rivers. The community has a primary school but no secondary school, a public health center, IESS. It has no telephone lines, telephone boxes, internet connection, or mobile signals. These facilities can only be used in Manglaralto.

The community developed approximately 70 years ago with the arrival of a couple of families to the area. The area was all previously untouched tropical dry forest. The families came to start farming in the area. However in over the past two decades the land has become unproductive, lacking nutrients and the rain has not been dependable. As a result the community has been turning to the production of artesanias, handicrafts, such as straw-weaving and carving tagua nuts, vegetable ivory. The following entries explain more about these handicrafts.

Tina and Kath

July 27, 2005

Basilica (12 de Julio)

The Basilica was built in 1883 and has a marvellous interior. It reminds you very much of Notre Dame in Paris. In style it is very different to the other churches we visited, with much less ornate decorations. However the stone work inside the church is impressive.

There are spectacular views of Quito from the bell towers and one of the best views of the Virgen de Quito on Cerro Panecillo. However it is sometimes difficult and even dangerous to climb the narrow and steep ladders to the top, which have no form of safety netting! There is a cafe on the third floor that is a good place to rest after climbing the ladders and looking at the amazing views.

Kath and Tina

Museo Nacional (13 de Julio)

The Museo Nacional (National Museum) is a large museum in Quito. Its collection illustrates the changes in Ecuadorian art and culture since 11 000 B.C. As part of our investigation we are looking at various works of art and what they can tell us about the culture of women in Ecuador. What we found specifically interesting for our project was the significant change in the representation of women in art from the colonial period to today's contemporary art, not only in style and technique, but also in content, which sectors of society are represented and those that are absent.

We started in the Archaeological Gallery. In this section many important beliefs and the artwork of ancient cultures are displayed. It was amazing to see such old pieces of work.

The colonial art gallery, which displays pieces from 1534 to 1820, clearly has a very Spanish influence. The indigenous style and sectors of society are mainly absent. The only prominent indigenous influence, is the use of the sun and moon, symbols of the Inca belief system. What is evident in this section of the art gallery is the blood and savagery which was present in art partly to scare the indigenous people into believing in God and Catholicism.

The Modern art gallery shows a dramatic change in style of art. There is not so much of the religious Virgins but more of real-life paintings of Ecuadorian countryside, life and people. These works unlike the previous period, also include indigenous figures and document a more diverse society. In many ways the artwork is also a lot more critical of social institutions such as the church. Photos coming to our gallery soon!

Kath and Tina

Confirmation Ceremony in the Church of Iluman (10 de Julio)

Sisa,a cousin of Adela, Belen and Marianita of the Picahusi family was confirmed in Catholic Church today; it was a day of festivities in Iluman village. All the indigenous were dressed in their beautiful traditional clothes typical of Iluman. The church that day was absolutely packed with people who came to see their friends and relatives being confirmed. The cermony lasted for three hours as not only was it the cofirmation of Sisa, but of 85 children in the village! During the ceremoy the children sang, gave gifts of bread, grapes, water, the bible to the church, were blessed by the priest alongside with their godparents, and the whole congregation celebrated this special day of their children. It was a unique experience to feel the presence and emotion of the whole village, but also tiring; there did seem to be everlasting queues of children for each part of the ceremoy and the church was extremely crowded and hot.

After the cermony, we returned with the family and godparents to their house to enjoy the traditional delicacy of guinea pig along with mote a type of chickpea, a tomato and onion salad and potatoes. It was surprising to see such a meal served with Coca-Cola, but that was the case. The meal was extremely large and what wasn't eaten was slid into plastic bags, to be eaten later.

Conversation with Susana from Peguche (9 de Julio)

Iluman village is situated in a beautiful and picturesque landscape with surounding mountains and valleys. During a stroll to a nearby village, Peguche, we met Susana, 18. Susana lives with her family in a stonehouse beside a dusty road between Peguche and Iluman. Susana does not go to school and did not go to Otavlo Market that day. Instead she spent her day cooking and taking care of her 8 sisters and brothers. Next week she will celebrate Fiesta de La Virgin Carmen with the rest of the village. She enjoys dancing.

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