I am home safely from my wonderful trip to Ecuador. There was a lot of hiking, some ziplining, and even some horseback riding, which was truly comical. An equestrienne I am not (Betty Draper makes it look so easy...). You'll recognize the tops from my bike trip to the Netherlands. For hiking I figured I should break down and actually wear shorts and pants, rather than my usual skirts.
I took my machine in for service a few weeks before the trip but *needed* just a few new things for the suitcase. First up were my Adventure Shorts. I will review them eventually. Suffice it to say that the sewing machine that was graciously loaned to me did not enjoy sewing them and I actually busted out the treadle. They are not my most well-made item ever (the treadle has incredibly heavy pressure on the presser foot that caused pulling and wrinkling on the waistband topstitching) but they were Adventure Shorts in more ways than one! These got the seal of approval from my travel companion. One morning when I put on a pair of Jungle Pants, he actually asked, "No Adventure Shorts today?" I thought it was so cute that he used their proper name.
Then I made not one but TWO pairs of Jungle Pants. Jungle Pants are lightweight cotton pants that cover the legs against bugs and brush but allow for air circulation under steamy tropical circumstances.
Both pairs are made from the same pajama pants pattern as my waterproof biking pants for the Netherlands, so they are not the most flattering item. I put cargo pockets on the seersucker pair and in-seam pockets in the blue pair. This ended up being perfect because I'd put my camera in one pocket and my money purse in the other so my two most valuable possessions were on me and everything carried externally was dispensable. They both got a lot of wear, though they won't see the light of day in an urban environment! (I think the blue pair will officially become pajamas.)
I also added another top to the mix, but apparently didn't get any photos of myself on the days I was wearing it! Must inquire with my travel companion.
We stayed in the Old Town of Quito ("Centro Historico") near the Plaza Santa Domingo, and we turned out to be in the middle of the Garment District! There were lots of fabric shops, many of them combination fabric shop and custom clothing store. Cidell and I had just been lamenting that we wished it was possible to buy a suit jacket and then a length of fabric for making your own skirts, pants, or dress. I should have looked into that in Quito, though I think it's not like Asia where the sewing happens in a day or two.
The fabric stores all had enticing displays in the window, as at right. I went into a couple but *gasp* didn't buy anything. The fabrics were generally very nice English and Italian wools (with fancy woven selvages bearing their country of origin), shirtings, and colorful polyester prints. I couldn't find anything that was made in Ecuador or that seemed very special (English wools are definitely special, but not to Ecuador). I already had my souvenir (described below), so I passed on a fabric souvenir--I would have been buying just to buy, not because I found something I loved.
All the photos from the trip are here (you can see them broken up by day and destination here)
I was very much inspired by the traditional dress. There is a short description of traditional Ecuadorian Andean dress here. The women wear a dark, knee-length dirndl skirt, light colored stockings (usually white), and low heeled black shoes, generally in a brogue or what we now call "shootie" style. The blouses are generally white, but aren't seen very much as they are covered with a shawl, generally dark but you see the occasional brightly colored shawl. 99% of the shawls I saw were solid colored. The crowning glory is a bowler hat with a narrow brim (2 inches at most), turned up in the back and flat in front, with two dimples in the crown at the front. A long braid is worn down the back, coming out of the hat.
I did not want to take pictures of people without their permission, assuming there would be thousands of examples on the web. Not so! I can't find anything truly representative. The photo at left is close, though her shawl is smaller than most and would generally cover the top and I never saw anyone in a print skirt (they were a bit fuller, too). The photo at right shows the back (though the skirt is longer than most). While I still think that the sari is the most beautiful traditional dress I have encountered, the women of Ecuador in Andean highland dress is one of the most dignified things I have ever seen. They just exude thousands of years of civilization. Amazing. This was only worn by older women. I don't know if it's not adopted until one gets older or if the tradition is dying out in favor of track suits and jeans as everywhere else. I really hope it's the former.
My favorite part was the hat so I had to get one of my own. It is forest green and will be making an appearance at this year's Tweed Ride, Sunday November 13, woot! It does not look anything close to the authentic on me--I don't have the right demeanor or the long dark braid--but I love it so.
I'm off to Texas for a family reunion this weekend, and will be traveling for work next week, but I will eventually return to regular posting, I promise...
Blog Housekeeping: I know some people have been having trouble with comments. I finally had a chance to investigate and it appears that Blogger has a bug in its comment form that is embedded at the bottom of the post. I switched to this a few months ago because it's cleaner. I've gone back to the pop-up format, which appears to have fixed the problem for most people that were experiencing it. Sorry it took me so long to deal with it!
It's going to get worse before it gets better...
3 hours ago