Our huts, volcanoes, cholas and tortoises are the favorite souvenirs of French, Germans, Americans and Ecuadorians. They are embroidered, woven, painted or sculpted. They are called ‘souvenirs’ that for foreigners are transformed into a memory of their visit to the Guayaquil Handicraft Market in Ecuador and a symbol of their land for emigrants.
“They do not want buildings or large monuments because they already have enough in their country,” reflects Vanessa Mero, member of the more than 600 merchants who work there. She started 18 years ago in the premises 29, located in Loja and Alfredo Baquerizo Moreno, downtown Guayaquil. What do you look for in a craft? Nature and everything that represents the Ecuadorian culture, from the huts of the coast, the mountains of the sierra to the iguanas of the Galapagos Islands and, of course, the paintings inspired by the expressionist paintings of Guayasamín, the remembered artist of indigenous origin.
A painting that imitates the technique used in the play ‘Ternura’ (1989) of Guayasamin bought the couple Allen and Rocío Williams because their daughter is a great admirer of the work of the painter. They arrived in Guayaquil two weeks ago from Joplin, Missouri, United States, and this is the second time they return to the Craft Market because before they bought hammocks and an alpaca cloth poncho for their granddaughter Clara, 6 years old.
Rocío is from Guayaquil and feels pleasure to return to Ecuador after five years to browse new handicrafts in the market, as well as the urban development of the road to the coast and on the Malecón Simón Bolívar. “Here they are very kind, willing to help and make rebates for the tourist, we always recommend it because it is in downtown Guayaquil.”
Other tourists like the French prefer to take a game of chess, but not a common one where the 16 pieces of each of the two players are white or black; this is one of indigenous versus Spanish soldiers. Vanessa Mero has three sizes and sells them between $ 12 and $ 23.
The merchant sells everything from key chains to $ 1 to religious paintings in oil on canvas to $ 130. The young woman has meticulously observed the tourists and their tastes. For example, Latin Americans are a little more esoteric and believe in luck, so it is very common to carry a chola of abundance, between $ 3 and $ 20, because it is believed that with her at home, good food will never be lacking on the table; others, on the other hand, choose religious paintings, and in times of tremors like the one of last September 6, their demand increases, says Mero, convinced of Crafts Villanueva.
There are also musical tourists who ask, even on Facebook, for the prices of Ana Leticia de Aráuz’s instruments, at the local Rompian Folklore. She has been working in the Guayaquil Artisan Market for more than 30 years and at the insistence of her daughters decided to open an account on Facebook. He sells drums, guitars, flutes quenas, xylophones and melodicas that range from $ 3 to $ 35. “I at least develop a bit with English because the tourists who come are French and Germans.”
The fabrics are other of the most requested crafts in the location of the Segundo Cabascango otavaleño. He has lived in Guayaquil for 55 years and has witnessed the economic and urban changes of the city, but the one that most impacted his sales was the dollarization decreed on January 9, 2000 by the then President Jamil Mahuad. Cabascango yearns for the time of the sucre because, according to him, being on par with the dollar his sales have decreased in relation to those he had in the 90s. That has not been an impediment for his three children to continue with their business of making t-shirts with prints from the Galápagos, Quito and Guayaquil. 32 years ago it was he who made the drawings by hand, but now his son Henry, 31, has decided to continue with the trade in Tejidos Rocío. “Europeans and Americans, mainly, prefer what is handmade, for example, fabrics, embroidery, everything hand-made they appreciate.”
This same process is reflected in the works made with straw shawl from the family premises of Raúl Quille. The straw hat is the handicraft that sells the most, followed by baskets, trays and necklaces of the same material. It has hats from grade 2 to 20 that cost between $ 15 and $ 300, which are mostly worn by Ecuadorians based in Italy, Spain and the United States as a souvenir of their land.
While other tourists such as the Dutch Mariska Vreman and Marlene Zwitser, hostesses of KLM, are delighted with the treatment of the merchants towards tourists. “They do not raise their voices and they have made us feel very comfortable,” says Mariska.
This is their second time in the market, two years ago they came with some of their colleagues and enjoyed their kindness a deal that made them return to see the beautiful leather crafts and quilts elaborated with fabric from the Mercado Artesanal Guayaquil.
El Mercado Artesanal de Guayaquil was founded on July 24, 1982 during the administration of Mayor Abdalá Bucaram, by an initiative of Leticia de Viteri, Yela Loffredo and a group of artisans. 50% of the merchants are from Otavalo.
There are 171 local handicrafts
Monday to Saturday 09: 00-19: 00
Sundays and Holidays 10: 00-16: 00
Cost of travel
No entry of vendors, drinks, pets, weapons, smokers and bicycles is allowed.