Monday, September 7, 2009
Made in Uruguay
This past week was an annual arts & crafts fair that they call "Hecho Aca" (Made Here), held in the exposition halls near one of the large shopping malls in Montevideo (Portones Shopping). We saved our visit until Sunday, the last day. It was actually fortunate, because on the last day, deep discounts might be enjoyed (though we didn't know it at the time). Next year we will be sure and wait until the last day.....
After a year in Uruguay and seeing what many shops had to offer in the way of clothing, arts and crafts- we weren't sure what we would find there. I half-expected to find a rather dismal offering. However, we were pleasantly surprised with the variety and quality of the products. Coming from Seattle, we used to attend a yearly art show (Bellevue Arts & Crafts), where quality and workmanship is the finest. The cost of entry to Hecho Aca was 70 pesos each ($3 US) and well worth it.
We first entered the judged area, where the prize winners were on display, then onto the booths were art, crafts, clothes and food items could be purchased. The cute little flock of sheep above was one of the first place winners in the unique category. There were categories for one-of-a-kind pieces and then also for items which were reproduced for sale. One of the differences between the Bellevue Arts & Crafts show and Hecho Aca, were the prices. We saw art that we, even on a budget, could afford to buy. The selection was as varied as any selection we have ever seen. Among the offerings were: glass art, carvings, oil & charcoal paintings, leather goods and lots of jewelry (of particular interest to my wife). While walking around the floor area, we were delighted to see a small troupe of young ballerinas, wending their way through the crowd and dancing to the classical music we were enjoying.
We almost purchased a complete, tanned and beautifully presented cowhide for our living room floor for $177 (US). At the last minute they didn't take MasterCard (Visa is the preferred card in Uruguay), and we had too many things to carry to stop at a cash machine.
Denise found the picture that we will put over the fireplace. It is an all-wood product, and the individual pieces (much like a jig-saw puzzle) are in high relief and hand painted. This 24' x 30' piece of art cost about $188 (US). These are obviously not individually made, but still a very substantial and unique piece for our living room and with a theme that reminds us we are living in South America. Yes, that is me below in pajamas. What can I say? It is Monday morning, a little drizzle coming down and I'm not getting out of my pajamas.
Taking a break from the show, we walked across the street to the Portones Shopping Mall and tried the Chinese shop in the food court. As Uruguay is not really noted for many foreign food restaurants, it is nice to occasionally enjoy something different (or familiar as the case may be). It was not the greatest Chinese food I have ever eaten, but the portions were generous and for a little over $9, we got all we could eat. We will visit again when the craving strikes.
Then back to the show to pick up some natural peanut butter, some marmalade (orange and whiskey), our purchase (which had been boxed for us) and home again. Hecho Aca will be a regular part of our year, here and knowing what we know about it, now, we will go back prepared to enjoy more of the local art.