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Everyone talks about a city where “the creativity of its inhabitants is the most precious asset.” His name is Chordeleg.
Eager to meet her, I started my trip departing to the south of Ecuador and there I was, 45 minutes from Cuenca, the Capital city of the Azuay province.
And indeed, with 15,000 residents, Chordeleg has been part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network since October 31, 2017, in the Crafts and Folk Art category, which highlights pottery, gold and silversmithing, toquilla straw weaving and footwear manufacturing. A curious fact is that 58% of its gifted artisans are women.
My walk through this enchanted district began with the many workshops and jewelry stores it has. Here artisans develop unique designs, patterns and processes to create very diverse and attractive products with a touch of its own personality and charm. The “candonga” is the handicraft icon of this creative district and it is an earring made out of filigree. And they do it in large! For everyone’s admiration, in one of the city’s museum courtyards, the “World’s Greatest Candonga” is held for tourists and locals. It measures 73 inches high by 39 inches wide, and weighs 38,58 pounds in 9.25 silver.
Then I visited the potters, gentlemen dedicated to their labor in their traditional workshops that silently, but at an accelerated pace, turn the clay into beautiful pots, plates, pans, jugs, vases, miniature ceramics and other house goods and ornaments. And it’s art is a great experience that starts with the preparation of the land with some synchronized dance, stomping the clay with their feet.
One of the activities that caught my attention is that all families in Chordeleg’s countryside weave the toquilla straw as a complementary job to their agricultural daily tasks. Mostly women are the ones to weave hats, purses, belts, baskets, jewelers, place mats and other home parafernalia. These fine crafts have been exported to the United States and Europe for a long time and we know why… It’s really difficult not to be enchanted with their artistic ability and the colors display.
I could not leave this enchanted town without visiting the shoes factories. Nowadays it can be said that it is the main economic activity. Due to a huge variety of shapes, colors, designs and foremost, the use of the highest quality raw material, Chordeleg’s footwear is sold in almost every city in the country… It is there where the saying was born: “remember just a good shoe will take you on the best roads.”
Now I know why Chordeleg was declared a “Creative City of the World.” I leave with the feeling of having visited a world of illusions, full of art, culture, tradition and beautiful landscapes, which made me live unique and unforgettable experiences.