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San Antonio De Ibarra Is Alive With Wood Carvers!

A children's slide at a small park in the city.


San Antonio de Ibarra lays claim to the "wood carving capital" of Ecuador. And since there are literally hundreds of wood carvers and many artists working in the city, with dozens of large and small galleries to showcase their work, it is well deserved.

Even at the center of the city stands a monument to the flavor of art in San Antonio de Ibarra.

The city of San Antonio de Ibarra


The city of Ecuador is a center for art but also is an area of natural beauty. There is a history that goes back to the 1800's of a youngster by the name of Daniel Reyes, who came to the area after an earthquake in 1868 as just a helper to restore the churches and other works of art that were destroyed. What he became was an Icon and important figure, and the passion he gave to San Antonio de Ibarra for art is still felt today.

The artisans work in many different venues such as sculpting, murals, statues and classic and religious figures. They also work with modern art, animals, vases and many variations of wood sculpting and carving.

Chess set made in San Antonio de Ibarra, Ecuador.

Chess set made of wood and tagua. Pieces depict the Spaniards and the indigenous people of that time.


San Antonio is what might be called an average city in Ecuador. Although some things have changed in 40 years, most remains the same. There are more people as farmers have come to the "city" to find work that pays better. Many have taken up a wood carvers trade as it can provide a more consistent income, and there seems to be no shortage of wood.

The city has added some modern touches but it is still a quiet village by most standards. Far removed from the big cities of Quito or Otavalo. With the shopping centers, conveniences and noise removed to the larger metropolis. San Antonio retains the calm exterior traditional with the outlying cities in Ecuador.


Photos and videos, as good as they are, still don’t equal the scene through your own eyes. Words can paint a picture up to a certain point. Seeing the Hummingbirds within three feet of your nose, how they flit through the air, the variance in size mixed with their petty little fights as they zip from one spot to another.

These little critters are notorious for their aggressiveness and territorial domain. Even among themselves you can see the face-offs. How unusual then when a small Wren flew up to the feeder with no challenge. Hardly bigger than the Hummers it was none the less a “bird of a different feather!”

Looking down at the river many things come into view. In this case it was what appeared to be Hawks, until realization kicked in that they do not fly in flocks! So it was just a bunch of Buzzards. That sort of brought things back into focus.

Still, returning after 8 years, the scene continues to capture all my senses. There were other noticeable changes with the Mirador itself, as guest rooms have been added and the parking lot is smaller as a result.

Patricio Espinel Will Greet You In English Or Spanish At El Mirador Del Rio Blanco!

A few minor changes near the entrance, yet welcoming as ever. Inside boasted a balcony which had been a window on the second level. Everything else was pretty much as my memory recalled. That changed as soon as I walked out the back door to the patio.

What had been a wooden or bamboo structure was now one of concrete. If possible the view was even grander as it seems obstructions have been removed. What is more likely is the patio is larger and extended further out, providing a regal exposure as far as the eye can see.

If you can witness this without taking in a deep breath, and muttering a grateful “wow,” then pinch yourself. You may have left this planet. For those still here this is one you don’t want to miss.

Patricio Espinel will greet you in English or Spanish as he is fluent in both, having spent is educational years in the U.S. He is an excellent host, and the food offered in the restaurant is both traditional and tropical. Having selections for vegetarians is especially thoughtful. Add the platform for the bird watchers and a window looking out into some foliage where the feathered patrons like to gather, and you may be treated as we were to the presence of Toucans.

It is not the jungle where these avians normally prefer as a habitat, but here they were and had just shown up a few minutes after our arrival. Almost as if to say, “see what a special treat we are for your viewing pleasure?”

El Mirador del Rio Blanco in Los Bancos, Ecuador. Put that one on your “bucket list!”


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