Saturday, July 28, 2012

Weaver's Museum

On Friday, I almost wanted to just stay home, but Ron said that if we didn't go back to Paguche and climb up to the top of the falls I would definitely regret it.  So I packed my collapsible cane and off we went.  This time we took the bus to Otavalo and then asked where we could get a bus to Paguche.  It was just across the street from the big bus station, and we only had to wait about 10 minutes.  The bus dropped us off right at the gate to the falls.  Since we had been there before we knew where we were going.  The first time we went we were surprised that so few people were there.  Well, not today!  There were at least four school buses and the place was jumping with hundreds of kids.  We found the path going up and I got my cane ready.  It was about a 200 foot climb to the top, and I made it.  Some great pictures from up there.  By the time we started down, all the kids were starting up.  They were so cute, though.  They all said "buenas Dias" or "hello.". One young man stopped us and asked where we were from and said "Welcome to my country." I doubt if American kids would do that.

We walked down the road to the bus stop and waited for a bus to come by.  Soon enough one came toward us.  I asked the driver if he was going to Otavalo and he said "Si, si." when we arrived at the bus terminal Ron whipped out his little Otavalo map and we headed for the main square.  We thought there would be restaurants around the square.  There usually are, but not this time.  We had to walk up and down a few streets before we found a good place.   After a very ice lunch topped off with fresh strawberries and cream, we set off to find the museum of the weavers.

Of all the things we have seen and done in Ecuador, this may have been the most enjoyable.  First, the entrance did not look like a museum, it looked like a restaurant or cafe.  Off to the far right of the path was a small door that said "Museo."I opened the door but it looked like a storeroom or something.  I ducked back out and I guess I must have looked puzzled because the woman outside waved me on and nodded vigorously saying "Si, Si."We ventured on and crossed a courtyard to another old, rickety door.  When we opened that one it was obvious that this large room contained old artifacts having to do with wool, spinning, and weaving. Before we could get our bearings an old indigenous man came in.  He started talking to us, but soon realized that we spoke only "poco Espanol." He was very considerate and patient.  He spoke slowly and watched us carefully to see if we were getting was he was telling us.  He explained how the sheep are sheared, then the wool is washed.  He sat down and took a handful of wool and demonstrated the carding process.  After he had the wool carded and rolled into a long strand, he went over to the spinning wheel and spun it into yarn.  We went all around the room, from station to station with him telling us what was done at each stage.  I shot video of him at several spots.  Finally he showed us a magazine with a photo of his son who is a professor of neuroscience in California.  Another son was shown shaking hands with Fidel when he was in Ecuador, but we didn't get what this sons occupation is.  He was obviously very proud of them.  Before we left, he led us over to a framed certificate, embellished with gold, and displaying a medal on a ribbon.  He made it clear that he was awarded the medal, but we don't know for what.  We made a contribution to the museum, or to SeƱor Maldonado, and left, feeling that we had experienced a truly special treat.
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