A Travellerspoint blog

The Chapel of Man, then engagement ring success!

Quito


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Update from October 2019: Another name for Abya Yala Museum is Museo Amazonico. Still open according to Google Maps. The wonderful jewellery workshop is also still there - also known as 'ARIU Art Jewelry Studio'

The first place we visited this morning was Abya Yala Museum, a small but very interesting museum with lots of artifacts from the Amazon as well as a few archaeological ones from other areas of Ecuador. Highlights included two examples of shrunken heads, various stuffed wildlife (a sloth, an armadillo, a condor and smaller birds), a massive dugout canoe, musical instruments, blowpipes, spears and some photos of Ingapirca, the only major Inca site in Ecuador. Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take any pictures.

When we came out of there a guy was practising parkour in front of the museum. We caught a taxi from there to our next destination, La Capilla del Hombre, or 'The Chapel of Man'. This monument and art museum was a creation of Ecuador's most famous artist, Guayasamín, as a tribute to humankind, the suffering of Latin America's indigenous poor and the eternal hope for a more positive future.

It lies in the very suitably named residential district of Bellavista ('beautiful view').

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On the way there we passed through Guápulo district, very hilly and historic. It was beautiful - I'll make sure to come back here for a look-around when I return to Quito next month.

First of all we walked round the outside of the monument, taking photos of it as well as the view and of a statue from the Honduran Mayan site of Copan which was donated to the Chapel of Man by the government of Honduras.

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Then we went inside it to look at Guayasamín's art. We were given a free tour by a guide, just for the two of us; in the process of doing so our guide gave us such a fine example of Spanglish I wished I could have taken a recording of it to play to my students and see if they could spot where the mistakes were. The tour began with a drawing representing workers at the silver mines of Potosí (in Bolivia) in Spanish colonial times. Before the guide told us this I had guessed it might be about the Potosí mines in historical times, so I was pleased when it turned out I was correct. Then Dave noticed a large mural and said it reminded him of Picasso - a few minutes later we got to that painting and our guide told us that it was indeed about the Spanish Civil War and was influenced by Picasso´s Guernica. The art was interesting and very symbolic. Once our tour had finished, we each bought a fridge magnet of our favourite artwork.

After leaving the monument we walked up some stairs to an on-site café, where we had a humita each and shared a quimbolito.

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Then we caught a taxi back to our hostel for a rest before heading out on a very important mission... choosing my engagement ring!

To do so we went straight to an extremely well-recommended jewellery shop called Ari's Gallery in the Old Town, right on the edge of Plaza San Francisco.

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Every piece of jewellery in it is hand made; the owner makes them with the help of five assistants. Most of the jewellery is silver but some are gold and some made from Spondylus shell. The ring I chose is made of silver and patterned with two pelicans and two hummingbirds - no precious stone. I asked if the silver came from Ecuador and it turns out that it comes from close to Chordeleg, a village near to Cuenca that is famous for its jewellery. I'd heard of Chordeleg before. Ari Gallery's owner gets his silver (and I assume his gold as well) from the same source local to Chordeleg as the Chordeleg jewellers do.

When we first arrived the owner's wife showed us round, but then the owner himself arrived. I originally thought that they didn't have any the right size for me, because there was only one of each type displayed (and apparently they don't have any in storage - they only ever have one of each type in existence in the shop) and every ring I was interested in was either too small or too big. They were also a bit too wide for my liking. However, then it turned out that they could tailor-make one for me, so I went for that option! He tried different dummy rings on me to find my size and then I picked the pattern and asked for it to be a bit narrower than the ones on display. They had a book of patterns and it said that the pelican means 'new life and long life' and the hummingbird is a general symbol of 'nature'. I love both hummingbirds and pelicans so I think I would have chosen them even without their given meanings, but I do think these meanings were very appropriate nonetheless.

The owner told us that he could deliver the ring to our hostel tomorrow afternoon for free, so we went for that option.

For dinner we went back to the Argentinian grillhouse we'd visited a couple of days before. This time Dave chose the mixed grill, which arrived piled up and still sizzling on a portable grill. He really liked most of it but unsurprisingly left the intestines! We shared some 'Italian potatoes' (fried potatoes with melted cheese, sour cream and mushrooms) as a starter and for the main I had a steak.

Posted by 3Traveller 16:28 Archived in Ecuador Tagged art pelicans museum dave quito andes ecuador hummingbirds explorations unesco_world_heritage_site ecuadorian_cuisine plaza_san_francisco

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