Ecuador: Tourism and crafts in Cotacachi

The richness and biodiversity of Cotacachi constitute an incomparable scenery for the undertaking and production of a variety of articles. The hands of its skillful artisans shape the raw material such as cabuya, leather and wood.

Photo Alejandro Vasquez
Photo Alejandro Vasquez

In the Intag area, there are several productive enterprises linked to the responsible use of the goodness of nature, such as the elaboration of shampoos, creams and soaps based on aloe vera.

Another alternative is the production of coffee, elaboration of crafts of cabuya, among others.

Omar Sevilla, craftsman of the wood, born in the parish Vacas Galindo, to the 15 years he migrated to the city of Ibarra, where he worked and learned the trade.

More than two years ago he returned to work with his wife and a neighbor in the production of wood crafts in Cotacachi. He currently lives in the La Plata sector, in the parish of García Moreno.

He works with wood cultivated in the area. The elaboration of his products takes between two to three months, due to the process of collection and drying of the raw material.

“We harvest the wood depending on the moon. That’s what our grandparents taught us,” explains Omar.

Today, he makes all kinds of handicrafts, from miniature fruits to large vases, as well as napkin rings, tea boxes and educational games such as trains and airplanes.

Its main market is Quito, through an intermediary that distributes its products in shopping centers. It also ships to Cuenca and Riobamba, and offers handicrafts to tourists and visitors to the area.

Sales prices vary according to the craft. For example, wholesale napkin rings are delivered in 6 dollars. The largest vases, with a diameter of 28 to 30 centimeters and a meter high, can cost between 70 and 80 dollars. Sailboats about 25, and fruit bowls that come with eight fruits 35 dollars.

The products are delivered with a six-month guarantee, which covers cases in which the wood is broken or the paint is depressed. “They bring in the product that was damaged and a similar one is returned,” explains the artisan. “The warranty does not cover breakages due to falls, but they can fix them at no cost.

International trade

Seville commented that it has plans to enter the international market, thus generating employment for the community and the Intag area, as well as sharing its knowledge with other people, encouraging employment in young people interested in starting their own businesses.

The message of this cotacacheño artisan, especially for the young people of Intag, is that “we can do anything we set out to do as long as we do it”.

“We have many alternatives, the first is to dedicate ourselves to work in many types of crafts, another is tourism, community tourism. We have wonderful places. The people of the city, as well as foreigners, like our lands. Youth can make and support tourism, but sometimes there is a lack of initiative, sometimes people are hesitant. The idea is to encourage us, to be positive, that things are achieved when we propose ourselves and that’s why we’re here. (FCDL).

Author: La hora