Puyo is not only surrounded by jungle; there are corners that merge into astounding cultural discoveries. One example is the ‘Waorani, hecho a mano’ ethnic art shop. Once inside, an intimate peek into the fine work and craftsmanship of women from different Waorani communities. (A reminder: the deep-jungle waorani tribe was only ‘discovered’ in the 1940s!). The commitment to identity that these artisans reveal results in extraordinary pieces from clothing, hunting and kitchen utensils to accessories and fin chocolate…
Each work is labeled with the name and community of the artisan created. Chambira is the most common material. It comes from the palm that bears the same name and is characterized by its resistance, which allows the waorani to create baskets, bags… even hammocks.
In addition to objects, each piece has its own story. The colors and combinations are unique, difficult to outshine by any artificial dye. The feeling each element gives off, many of which come directly from nature itself, is also personal and energetic; one can feel the presence of the craftwoman who designed it; a connection that brings us just a little bit closer to the jungles from which these items come from.
Each purchase directly supports the Association of Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon (AMWAE) who, with years of organization, work, and sacrifice, continue to defend their culture and lands from poaching, deforestation, and resource exploitation.
The initiative is not new. A benchmark in autonomous construction towards sustainable development, the entity has been recognized with awards such as the Equator Prize (2014) and Latinoamérica Verde (2015) for their social and environmental commitment.
The star product is, without a doubt, WAO chocolate, currently marketed all throughout Ecuador. Its production promotes organic agriculture as a means of protecting species and forests.
The store is located on Calles Atahualpa and General Villamil in Puyo. It is open from Tuesday to Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. (closes for an hour and a half at 12:30 p.m.)
To learn more about the project, visit their website or contact the wao community directly by phone or e-mail:
(+593) 032 796 540