Calderon is famed for its
bread dough figurines or "artesanias de
known for its bread
dough figurines and is a cheap and easy half-day excursion from Quito.
As well as the traditional bread dough ("masapan")
you get some great views of Quito and the valleys to its north and east
on the journey, and Calderón has an attractive little
with a pretty church.
of the Dead
(Día de los
Difuntos, 2nd November), the tradition in Ecuador is to clear up the
around the graves of family members, light candles and generally spend
time in the cemetary remembering the departed. Simple bread
figures are traditionally placed on the graves.
has taken the idea of these edible bread models shaped in
clay moulds and developed it into an art form.
bread figures in Calderón are made by hand from real bread
are not edible due to the large amounts of colouring, glue and varnish
that are also used.
with traditional indigenous costumes from various parts of Ecuador are
cheap, colourful and popular. However, unless your nearest
dearest are social anthropologists and particularly fond of dusting,
you might want to buy them something that either has some useful
purpose, or else is only allowed to attract dust for part of the year.
A bit of searching will reveal some "masapan" souvenirs which
just as colourful and attractive but also vaguely functional.
magnets, earrings, keyrings
and cocktail sticks adorned with little bread dough figures make
lightweight souvenirs or gifts which don't take up much
luggage space. Some of the finer, more delicate
designs such as the little hummingbirds will need careful
are a traditional theme in Calderon, some with many separate
and detailed figures, others united in a basket or bread shell to hang
on the Christmas
tree. The tiny nativity scene in half a
shell, left, cost just $1 (and can be kept tucked away in a dust-free
container from January to November). There are also many
different designs of Christmas tree ornaments, ranging from the
traditional to the creative to the slightly strange (the Christmas
get to Calderon from Quito, take any of the green buses marked
"Calderón" which leave from La Marín in
the old town, travelling north along Avenida América,
Avenida Galo Plaza Lasso and then onto the Panamericana Norte.
The journey costs 25 centavos and takes around an hour from
La Marín, depending on traffic. Sit on the
left-hand side of the bus (or the right-hand side on the way back) for
sweeping views over the valleys on the way out of Quito city in the
arrival in Calderon, from the central
square (la plaza) with your back to the church, take the road to the
right, leading slightly uphill - it's called Carapungo, but
particularly clearly marked. You will find several shops
famous bread dough figurines. One of the shops further up on
has its craftswomen working in the shop and they are happy to
demonstrate the process of making the figurines.
Spanish Vocabulary for an excursion to Calderon, Ecuador:
artesanías: handicrafts, craft
masapán: bread dough
Destinations: Calderón, an excursion from Quito
Half-day trip from Quito to see traditional craft products made from
Website www.ecuadortravelsite.org, text and photos by Sarah Clifford.
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