By Susan Burke March
The holiday season is upon us, and this year you’re aiming to find some special gifts for some special loved ones. Gifts that show you care — that no one else will have, and one that is sure to remind the recipient of you. If you haven’t visited the delightful shop named El Rincón Terracota, now’s the time! Christmas is just a few days away, and the shop is especially festive this time of year.
You can find dozens of places to shop for ho-hum gifts all around Cuenca. There are mercados, galleries, street vendors and shopping malls … so many are selling similar-looking tablecloths, dishes, crafts and clothes. But where do you go to find that special gift that you can feel excited about giving? One that no one else has? One that shows that you’ve endeavored to find something beautiful and unique? El Rincón Terracota is the answer.
When you’re looking for that unexpectedly terrific offering that no one else will give, one that’s handmade, charming, and unique, then you must explore El Rincón Terracota. This centrally located shop on Bolivar 2-35 y Tarqui, is owned by Maricarmen Espinoza, and is the special place for special gifts. Once an item is sold and departs the store, an identical item will never replace it. Instead, there are new pieces arriving weekly.
Arriving to meet Maricarmen, I met a warm and attractive woman who warmly greeted me with what I’ve come to appreciate as the Cuenca welcome — she placed both hands on my shoulders, smiled, and with a “mucho gusto”, gave me a kiss on the cheek.
Born and raised in Cuenca, after graduating college, Mari spent more than 12 years in southern Spain, working as a legal assistant while exploring the galleries and crafts shops, and getting to know artists of the area. Mari developed an eye for superior handcrafted objects and returning to Cuenca, she realized her dream, and opened El Rincón Terracota, or translated into English, “the terracotta corner”. She found the ideal location, just a few blocks west of Parque Calderón, on Presidente Bolivar, just west of Tarqui.
Here you’ll find both traditional and exclusive pieces and collectables, handmade in Cuenca and in Latin America.
This first time I visited, at every turn something caught my eye. All the gifts are precious in their imaginative simplicity. And there is something for everyone on your Christmas list — you don’t have to spend a fortune to find something that is truly original.
With selections ranging from wearables like handcrafted scarves, hats, and shirts; to precious and semi-precious jewelry; to original drawings and paintings; and my favorite items, metal work…iron-crafted figures, candle and plant holders, and more. Some are made locally, some are imported from Latin America, and some are designed and crafted by Carlos Pauta, a famous local artist who works in metal — each of his pieces is an original, and a gift to be treasured forever. My very favorite pieces are those made by Mari’s brother — when you visit ask her to show you his outstanding metal work as well.
Christmas is almost here! Daily new treasures arrive, so stop in soon. Maricarmen says that she strives to offer affordable yet exclusive gifts, and what makes her shop a destination for tourists and residents alike is the level of customer service offered. Whether you’re a visitor here for a short stay, or you’re living here and returning for the holidays or on vacation — avoid the hassle of packing and toting gifts through the airport, and then having to mail them when you arrive back in the USA. Or, maybe you just would like to shop and ship? Relax and browse this friendly shop, knowing that you can pay by credit card, and let Maricarmen take care of all the details of shipping the gifts to your loved ones back home.
And don’t forget that you are worth it too! Look no further for that unique piece to dress up your home — and demonstrate your connection to the local artistic community too. Maricarmen says that many of her customers make it a point to visit frequently, knowing that each time they visit they’ll find something new and unique. Maricarmen is receiving new items daily — and Christmas will be very special this year with a gift that you’ve given with love from El Rincón Terracota.
El Rincón Terracota: Artíulos para el hogar, joyas y más
Hours: Monday – Saturday, 9 am – 1 pm, 3 pm – 7 pm
Special Holiday Hours: Saturday December 19 before Christmas open 9 am – 8 pm
Address: Bolivar 12-33 y Tarqui
Phone: 099 865 8392 / 098 352 5243