Ota­va­lo – La su­ma de las par­tes / The sum of its parts

Iden­ti­dad sin épo­ca timeless iden­tity

Nan Magazine - - CONTENIDO / CONTENTS -

Una de las re­gio­nes más vi­si­ta­das del Ecua­dor. Des­cu­bre por qué el pue­blo y sus al­re­de­do­res son re­nom­bra­dos: son mul­ti­fa­cé­ti­cos y fas­ci­nan­tes.

One of the most vi­si­ted re­gions in all Ecua­dor, we dis­co­ver why the town and its su­rroun­ding re­gion are justly re­now­ned: it’s mul­ti-fa­ce­ted and fas­ci­na­ting.

El ota­va­le­ño es, co­mo to­do en Ecua­dor, una ‘mon­to­ne­ra’ cul­tu­ral que a pe­sar de las in­fluen­cias y po­si­bles com­bi­na­cio­nes que de he­cho in­ci­den en su iden­ti­dad, exis­te co­mo ex­pre­sión úni­ca e inimi­ta­ble. Ab­sur­do se­ría re­du­cir­lo a su pa­sa­do in­ca o pre­co­lom­bino o en­ca­si­llar­lo co­mo un ecua­to­riano co­mún y co­rrien­te; pues el ota­va­le­ño es, so­bre to­do, más que la su­ma de sus par­tes.

No de­ja de ser sor­pren­den­te lo arrai­ga­da que es la idio­sin­cra­sia ota­va­le­ña. Su iden­ti­dad pa­re­ce an­cla­da a su an­dar, a su for­ma de ves­tir, a su for­ma de tra­ba­jar, de or­ga­ni­zar­se y de re­la­cio­nar­se, y de ello exis­ten nu­me­ro­sos ejem­plos, des­de sus fies­tas, sus ri­tos, su con­vi­ven­cia, has­ta la for­ma en la cual con­traen ma­tri­mo­nio.

Es co­mún ha­blar de su ta­len­to te­je­dor, que pro­ba­ble­men­te da­ta de va­rios mi­le­nios an­tes de la lle­ga­da de los in­cas, quie­nes ha­brían re­pa­ra­do en ello al con­quis­tar el te­rri­to­rio, tra­yén­do­les lla­mas y al­pa­cas pa­ra que pro­du­je­ran ma­yor can­ti­dad y me­jor ca­li­dad de pren­das so­bre sus an­ti­guos te­la­res de es­pal­da. Po­co tiem­po des­pués, apa­re­ce­rían los es­pa­ño­les, quie­nes, en los obra­jes, em­plea­ban a la gran ma­yo­ría de la po­bla­ción pa­ra apro­ve­char sus des­tre­zas y ex­por- tar ar­tícu­los y ro­pa que ellos fa­bri­ca­ban. Si bien los obra­jes fue­ron des­con­ti­nua­dos cuan­do, en Eu­ro­pa na­ció la fa­bri­ca­ción en ma­sa de tex­ti­les, lo­cal­men­te con­ti­nuó la tra­di­ción, otor­gán­do­le al ota­va­le­ño, des­de me­dia­dos del si­glo pa­sa­do has­ta nues­tros días, un ha­ber in­va­lo­ra­ble. En Ecua­dor, tal ha si­do su éxi­to, que no só­lo an­dan en au­tos del año y cons­tru­yen ca­sas gran­des, sino que via­jan a tra­vés del mun­do y cuen­tan con co­ne­xio­nes co­mer­cia­les en­vi­dia­bles en Es­ta­dos Uni­dos y Eu­ro­pa. Pe­ro ello no pa­re­ce ha­cer­les me­lla al­gu­na a los ota­va­le­ños, en su for­ma de ser, al­go que re­ve­lan en ca­da una de sus ex­pre­sio­nes, tan­to so­cia­les co­mo cul­tu­ra­les, co­mo ve­re­mos en es­tas pá­gi­nas.

Ota­va­lo is, li­ke everyt­hing el­se in Ecua­dor, a cul­tu­ral mel­ting pot that, des­pi­te the my­riad in­fluen­ces that af­fect their way of li­fe, has be­co­me a unique and inimi­ta­ble ex­pres­sion of cul­tu­ral iden­tity. It would be ab­surd to re­du­ce an Ota­va­le­ño to his pre-Co­lum­bian In­ca past, or think of him as just an or­di­nary Ecua­do­rian; the Ota­va­le­ño is really the sum of his parts.

No less sur­pri­sing is how deep their idiosyn­cra­sies really run. Their iden­tity seems an­cho­red to the way they walk, to the way they dress, to the way they work, or­ga­ni­ze them­sel­ves within their com­mu­ni­ties and re­la­te to ot­hers. You can find exam­ples of this every­where: from spi­ri­tual ex­pres­sions, fes­ti­vi­ties, ri­tuals, so­cial cus­toms, even the way in which they con­tract ma­rria­ge.

It is com­mon­pla­ce to talk about their wea­ving ta­lents, which pro­bably da­te back se­ve­ral mi­llen­nia, be­fo­re the arri­val of the In­cas. The­se con­que­rors from Pe­ru re­cog­ni­zed their skills, and brought lla­mas and al­pa­cas in­to the re­gion in or­der to pro­du­ce mo­re and bet­ter qua­lity clot­hes on their backs­trap looms. Shortly the­reaf­ter, ca­me the Spa­niards, who, in their ‘obra­jes’, em­plo­yed most of the wor­king po­pu­la­tion, le­ve­ra­ging their abi­li­ties and ex­por­ting the tex­ti­les far and wi­de.

Alt­hough the­se obra­jes cea­sed ope­ra­tions when mass pro­duc­tion of tex­ti­les com­men­ced in Eu­ro­pe, the Ota­va­le­ños con­ti­nued the tra­di­tion, en­do­wing their town, from the mid -20th cen­tury to the pre­sent day, with an in­va­lua­ble as­set. In Ecua­dor, such has been their suc­cess that not only do they own new cars and build big hou­ses, they tra­vel the world, boas­ting en­via­ble bu­si­ness con­nec­tions in the Uni­ted Sta­tes and Eu­ro­pe. This wealth and glo­bal vision ho­we­ver doesn’t seem to ha­ve ma­de a dent in Ota­va­lo’s cul­tu­ral ex­pres­sions, in that es­sen­tial reality they re­veal both so­cially and cul­tu­rally, and which we ho­pe to ha­ve cap­tu­red for our readers over the­se pa­ges.

Ollas gi­gan­tes pre­ci­san de cu­cha­ras gi­gan­tes du­ran­te al­muer­zos co­mu­ni­ta­rios. / Giant caul­drons need giant spoons at com­mu­nity lun­cheons.

Mú­si­ca, mar­cha y pro­ce­sión. / Mu­sic, pa­ra­de and pro­ces­sion.

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