We drove out of town in the Gualaceo valley to visit a weaver. As in other parts of the world, it is just fascinating to see how they create such beautiful things using such simple methods and tools.

Here we see how Ana Maria uses the Ikat method. The pattern is tie-died into the yarn and comes to life during the weaving. This same process is used in Asia. She also makes these shawls reversible, and so has to weave both sides.


Most of the dyes are natural using indigenous leaves, nuts, etc. Indigo for the blue is imported, and the turquoise yarn is purchased pre-colored.

The lace work is created using her finger nails. Ana Maria started this “nail work” when she was 10 years old.

Countryside scenes.

Next stop in the valley was this amazing orchid farm. They have over 8,000 different types of orchids and ship them world-wide.

Growing an orchid is a 7-year process. Each plant is hand pollinated and the pollen is placed in a sterilized and sealed jar (containing up to 15 seedlings – in a mixture with 21 elements. These jars are kept in perfect conditions for up to a year when the baby seedlings are plucked out with tweezers and planted into tiny individual pods for another extended period. They are eventually transplanted to pots for sale.

This was one of the ‘dracula’ species, but it reminded me of a monkey’s face.

The historic city of Cuenca has many beautiful and notable structures. The city was originally named Tomebamba under Incan rule, but was destroyed during a civil war just before the Spaniards arrived and renamed the city St. Ana of the Four Rivers Cuenca ( Santa Ana de Los Cuatro Rios de Cuenca) on November 3, 1553.

Cuenca is the home of Panama hats.

The old cathedral ( Catedral Vieja)was built shortly after the Spaniards arrived and was in use until the mid-19th century when it was deemed that a larger cathedral (Catedral Nuevo) was needed. The old cathedral is now a religious museum and a venue for concerts.

Interior Catedral Vieja.

Interior of Catedral Nueva.

Some of the chollacuencana women going about their daily business in their traditional clothing.

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