So, this week I was wondering what the heck I would write about. More issues with my car? True...but nah. Travels....nah, haven't gone anywhere (because of the car issues). An art soiree I went to....ehhh. Well, I have shown lots of photos of churches in the past, but many of them had no interior shots. Maybe I should go around and get those and also get some shots of churches around Cuenca that I HAVEN'T been to yet. OK!! Problem is....I have no idea when they have their doors open and when I tried to take on this task, 6 out of 7 were not open. Dang it.
But, as luck would have it (as opposed to the kind of luck I need to win the lottery), I stumbled upon a hidden treasure of which this blog entry will be dedicated.
The Todo Santos (translated 'All Saints') church in Cuenca has been under restoration for quite awhile. I was hoping to get inside to see it, but it's still closed. Recently, an entry in 'Gringo Tree' (an expat bulletin board of sorts) promoted a restaurant of the same name, 'TodoSantos' located at the other end of a long building of which the church is a part of. It was lunch time and I LOVE new experiences so I thought I'd check it out.
The entrance is almost un-noticeable if not for the sandwich board in front of the door. I walked into a lonnng hallway that led to the reception desk at the other end. They don't serve almuerzos (traditional 4-course lunch special averaging $3 in Cuenca) but did have a nice menu. A bit pricey for Cuenca, but what the heck. I asked where the dining room was as it was not clearly seen from the reception desk. She said 'downstairs'. So, down I went. Wow...what a treat!! The steps were made out of large stones and I had to duck my head a few times to clear the overhead archways. I passed the area where breads and pastries are made in a huge old-fashioned thing-a-ma-jig (see photos) and descended into what almost seemed a cavern. Beautiful brick and stone archways framed romantic nooks outfitted with dark wooden tables adorned with LINEN napkins (RARE!!) and candlesticks. All this in a building perched on the embankment above the Tomebamba river.
Well, this was just too darn fancy for me in my shorts to enjoy by myself. I decided to come back another time and bring friends, maybe for dinner.
But....wait. I took a few photos as I knew I had found my blog subject for the week. A gentleman was standing nearby and asked me if I wanted to see the 'ardtsvket'. Huh? The 'rdtsuwst'. Ummmm...I don't understand....repeat por favor? 'Would you like to see the rarteest?' GAWD...I have horrible hearing and I had to ask him again....HUH??? 'Would you like to see the artist?'. I said, 'OHHHHHH.....there's an artist gallery over there (pointing to the other side of the dining room)?' 'Si, SI!!!'
Oddly, we had to traverse the dining room to enter into another room which showcased artwork. It was a great presentation, complete with nifty niches to highlight the architecture of the room. But...so remote!!!
The 'guy' was Diego...THE artist!! His specialty is creating artistic pieces made out of COFFEE BEANS!!! Coffee beans in their natural state are typically cream-colored, red, or maybe green. Roasting produces the various shades of browns to almost black. He uses the various shades of coffee beans to create a 'tree of life', or a 'colibri (hummingbird)', or a 'butterfly', or maybe the outline of roofscapes of a neighborhood.
His prices are very reasonable, given the fact he says it takes him approximately 10 days for each piece. I'm thinking of busting my budget to buy one.
Meanwhile, enjoy the photos of my little hidden treasure discovery.
|Down the long hall to the reception desk.|
|Past the place where they bake fresh breads and pastries in that-thar-thing in the back.|
|The main dining area.|
|Through the dining area and into this hidden, tucked away from humanity......art gallery.|
|One of Diego's pieces....a butterfly.|
|No, the black shape is not painted or hand-stamped on each bean. They are NATURALLY that way!!!|
|All of the aforementioned is hidden behind and below this non-descript entrance!!!|