Cotacachi - Renowned for Traditional Leatherwork
Cotacachi is a section of the Imbabura province of Ecuador and, like much of the rest of the country, it is incredibly beautiful. Few tourists stop by here to praise the scenery, however, as most of them breeze through only to inspect and purchase the locally made leather goods – and for good reason as you will find some of the best leatherwork in the country here.
Many of the people living in Cotacachi have dedicated themselves to the making of top-quality leather goods. Just as other regions specialize in trades such as weaving, Cotacachi specializes in the production of leather goods. The traditional methods of tanning leather, stretching and molding skins, shaping, sewing and painting are passed down from generation to generation and the people living in this region have perfected the art of leather working. Most of their goods are both functional and decorative and the painting and dying is often very beautiful.
Perhaps the best thing about shopping in Cotacachi is the fact that you can buy such beautifully made goods at bargain prices. Many of the crafters sell directly to the public and are willing to bargain to get a sale. It is kind not to bargain them down too much, however, as one often forgets that this is the main source of livelihood for many of the people of Cotacachi.
Most recently Cotacachi has been the source of some debate. Copper resources have been found underground in the region and there are plans to destroy the villages of Junin, Cerro Pelado and El Truinfon to make way for mining activities. Environmental activists have been fighting the decision fiercely, though it is likely that the plans will be put into action despite this. While the mining activity will most likely detract from the area’s natural beauty and impact on the environment, it will also provide jobs for many of the people living there.
It is unlikely, however, that the area known as Cotacachi will ever lose its talent for leather crafting – the friendly people here will continue to pass down their knowledge year after year and artisans will always be open to a good trade with tourists.