The first several times I visited Ecuador I had no success in finding any kind of primitive antiques. The only true antique stores were high-end antiques that had made it over from Europe at some point, and they were priced accordingly. The past two times I have been in country I have come across a few treasure troves, as the tourist market has started to expand. Utilitarian objects that used to get used up and worn out have started to become available for sale. The current government has even begun to regulate true antiquities to avoid valuable cultural artifacts from leaving the country, but the true objects of everyday use have not made the radar yet.
We came across this small roadside dealer on one of our last forays and we bought quite a few objects, including some great old wooden santos that had lost their ceramic faces long ago. I would have bought more things but the missus and I were short on cash and this was the middle of nowhere.
These hand-forged iron kitchen hooks wouldn’t fit in the luggage, but I will check next time to see if they are still there. They are awesome.
Great stone grinding rocks.
These wooden grinding vessels are a must purchase on our next visit.
I love the wooden “mashers”.
You can never be sure if the clay items are really old, or they were made for the tourist market. Since the government has put a clamp-down on exporting cultural artifacts the sellers will never tell you they are real or not. They will all tell you that they are not real and let you decide. We have purchased them over the years and still are not sure, but in this case I would imagine most are real. They are too small to have much value to anyone making them for the tourist market, and this place is so far out of the way that not many tourists frequent it. I guess we will let you decide if they are real or not…
I love these old santos. They are found in many of the old ranches and have been around for many years. They used to have ceramic faces, or carved wooden faces with glass eyes, but after many years in the humidity the faces have fallen off. It adds to the character for me. I picked up quite a few of these.
Odds and ends.
This Coca Cola sign was the one that sent my OCD spinning out of control. The old guy told us that it came off of the Coke distributor in the nearest city and had been there since the 1960’s on the outside of the building. We were in our family’s small SUV and it was packed to the hilt with people so we were not able to transport it. I was obsessed with it, but the missus kept insisting that it would be impossible to get back to the U.S. and impossible to get back to Guayaquil with the current car set up. She wouldn’t let me buy it! I have been obsessing for weeks trying to get my brother in law to go and pick it up and store it for me at his house until the next time I go back. This week he broke my heart by telling me that he went back and it was gone! He couldn’t understand why anyone would have bought it, except me, as he knows I am a crazy collector. I will add this to my infamous list of “things that got away” and will continue to obsess over it for years, or at least until I find something else to fixate on.