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Discover How A Nut Turned Into Jewelry Known As Taguarte!

Day 54 Taugarte!

Focus on the art of taking a rather plentiful, simple, product of nature and turning it into a beautiful work of art is the endeavor of many, and the accomplishment of select few. Since the late 1800’s tagua was used to make buttons and for 80 years was in great demand around the world. Then came plastic, and tagua nearly disappeared.

Tagua has been used for carving figures and various types of jewelry for centuries, so has not disappeared from the marketplace. But there has been little change in the type of items made from the small nut that comes from the Palm Pod.

This story begins in Ecuador, nestled in the mountains of Quito. Out of what could be seen as the ashes from closure of a button factory, has risen up the Phoenix of Taguarte! With hundreds of tagua nuts left over in a bodega, Patricia Morales Celi couldn’t stand the idea of these being wasted. Being extremely creative and having an artistic flair, Patricia began to experiment with the nuts.

Using tools that were available to her, the first efforts were rudimentary and perhaps could be compared to those normally seen anywhere in Ecuador. This was not satisfactory to such creative genius, and efforts to do something radical and exclusive began to form in Patricia’s imagination.

Her efforts were noticed by friends and acquaintances for their creativeness, unique, exclusive, one of a kind look, and the die was cast for the beginnings of Taguarte.

It could be said that a love affair developed between Patricia and tagua. A passionate study began to discover the secrets of tagua, and what could be done with vibrant colors, hues and textures to this ivory-like substance. It was not about engraving or scrimshaw that was customary in Ecuador. 

Unique enough to create a patent was the result of her years spent developing and creating the absolutely fabulous jewelry that is today known around the world as “Taguarte!” Patmoracel® is a recognized trademark in most parts of the world.

It is with absolute pride and humility that I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting Patricia Morales Celi, and seeing first hand her incredible talent. She lives with creativeness, and the drawing pad is a constant witness to her muse. 

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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