Saturday, June 23, 2012


The local Chamber of Commerce in Cuenca has made a very concerted effort to reach out to Expats moving to their town. There are meetings and classes, as well as a whole department dedicated to this effort.

One of the ways they help the expat "enculturate" is to offer tours of the surrounding businesses that belong to the chamber. This Thursday they were offering a trip to Susudel to see the local tile factory, a organic farm, and the local church and ladies weaving coop.

I will have to apologize as I did not get very many pictures. I forgot to charge my battery so I only had 3 minutes worth of photo taking.

The Tejas Pionero factory is in Ona (tilde over the n) which is about 15 minutes beyond Susdel. The son is now the manager of the factory and he explained that when his father began the business 40 yrs prior they were making the roof tiles by hand. Four years later they bought a machine that uses an extrusion process to make the tiles. They picked this area for their factory because they have 3 types of clay necessary within 3 miles of their factory.

 They were the first to glaze the tiles like they do the floor tiles. This machine was imported from Italy.. it heats the tiles to over 1000 degrees. Pretty impressive plant. They produce over 1 million tiles a day, using only 40 people, on 2 shifts. They only ship within Ecuador. When asked why they did not export, he smiled and said it was enough there in Ecuador. I liked him immediately!

After this we were taken back down the mountian to the town of Susudel. Susudel is at a lower elevation than Cuenca. It is at about 7300 ft. Nice little microclimate there. It was a warm sunny day with a bit of a breeze. We arrived at Susudel Granja Organico farm and were treated to a wonderful lunch all with homemade organic products from their farm. Even the chicken. It was all delicious!

After lunch we were taken on a tour of the farm. It was small, but the family was happy that it was big enought to sustain them and produce enough produce to hopefully give them a bit more. Their way of life seems to be intent on total organic, so much so, that they even have organic toilets on the farm. He explained how to use them. 5 scoops of sawdust to one "deposit". He moves the toilets around and when the process is complete he uses that spot to plant a tree. We all decided to use the indoor flush type.

 He did have some nice grapes I decided to photograph.. this is for my buddies in Washington state!

After our tour we gathered our items that we had bought from them. Here is the link to their website. They also offer tourism tours.  Then we continued up to the towns weaving cooperativa. Just a little room with  6 looms. These were upright looms, not like the ones I am used to seeing. The designs were drawn on brown paper handing behind the yarn strung upright... they were weaving the colored yarns by hand, according to the design behind the strings. Looked like their fingers would get sore.

Next we went to the church. It was100 yrs in the making, finished in 1752, and one that had not been "remodeled so according to our guide this made this church one of the most authentic for its age.

We were told that another item that made this church unique was that the Canari were here in the area for a few thousand years. Their beliefs were very entrenched in the people, and to urge them to come into the Catholic church some of their Canari beliefs were added to the churches interior. Snakes.. snakes in the Canari culture are good. Not so much in the other Christian beliefs. But a compromise was made as evidenced by the snakes below the priests pulpit.

After this we all loaded back on the bus and returned to cuenca... we left at 8:45 and returned at 5:45... a very busy day! Well worth the trip!

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