This young man saw me walking down the street with my camera in hand and jokingly asked for his photo to be taken. I don’t think he thought I would understand and when I turned to talk with him in Spanish and ask if he was serious, he struck a pose. Photo taken!
Vendor of Guaguas
We went to Calderón partly to find all the vendors selling figures made from masapán… or what in modern times passes for the more traditional recipe of marzipan, an almond paste used to make decorative figures. We found only one vendor on the main plaza and she was selling very traditional Guaguas (babies) which are found only at this time of the year.
This young lady is this year’s Queen of Masapán. Her job for the next year will be to represent the Union of Artists that create and sell the traditional artwork of Calderón. They can be found near the main plaza but are hidden up a small hallway off the main street.
Artists of Masapán
We purchased the artwork that is in the hands of this artist. When we asked if we could take her photo with her piece, she said yes. The photo, however, tells a different story. Many Ecuadorians are taught to focus on the community rather than individual success. Taking pride in your work is one thing but being overly prideful is another.
I asked this vendor at the Centro Artesanal de Masapán if I could take a photo of her wonderful piece of artwork, a figure in a traditional folk costume worn during the time of Carnaval. She proudly picked up the large figure and cradled him in one arm and looked directly into the camera lens. She wanted to make sure we knew who had made this wonderful creation.
Family from Latacunga
While watching a local group of musicians play in the main plaza of Calderón, I noticed a young man eyeing my camera. His father and he exchanged looks with each other and then the father noticed me notice them. I smiled and asked if they wanted their photo taken. The entire family laughed and laughed and I took it as permission to take a photo. And then chatted with the family for a while. They come from a town a couple of hours away, Latacunga, but are living in Calderón for the construction work. They were on the plaza just enjoying the day, as many working families do on Saturday afternoons.
This young man spotted my camera from a distance and his eyes got wide. With a huge smile on his face, he came up to me and said “Hello” in English. I replied politely and then asked him his name. He didn’t quite understand so I started speaking to him in Spanish and he was thrilled. He was even happier when I offered to take his picture and showed him the results on the screen. He continued to follow me around and we had a short conversation about schools, learning languages, and living in Calderón.
Hornado, or roast pork, is one of the famous street dishes in La Sierra of Ecuador. Our chef for the day served them with the most wonderful mashed potatoes, reheated in the fat from the pig itself. She was open to having her picture taken but preferred that the pig take the honors of being front and center.
There is nothing tastier than local honey. Our vendor offered us little wooden sticks dipped in different types of honey to help us decide what we wanted to purchase. We ended up with two – one a light and delicate honey from the flower of the Eucalyptus tree and the other dark, molasses type honey that comes from the flower of the avocado tree. If we want to buy more, he told us that he has booths from downtown Quito into Guayllabamba most weekends. We just need to keep our eyes open!
The Rose Vendor
Driving all the way from Ambato, a couple of hours without traffic, this gentleman was selling gorgeous roses from the back of his truck. We wondered if he had come to visit family and join them at the cemetery for the Día de los Difuntos celebration but he was so busy selling roses, we didn’t get to ask any more questions.