This piece is written by Marlee Newman, our co-host and guide
There we were. POURING down rain, sporting big rain coats and muddy shoes. 11 women and 15 + Ecuadorian artisans. I had a potato between my legs, shimmying at top speed across the concrete to drop it in a bucket. We went from timidly communicating in broken spanglish to fully understanding each other through just laughter and cheers.
We ran our first Creative Escape trip to Ecuador last February miraculously before the Corona Virus took the world by storm. Our mission was to bring women together from different parts of the world, highlight sustainable craftsmanship and leave us all a little more creatively inspired than when we arrived. This little moment playing lawn games together in the rain is where I felt it all coming to life.
Every day of this trip we were able to craft, get our hands dirty, laugh, indulge in yummy food and vulnerably connect with ourselves and the group. Now 7 months later we want to pause and soak in the special moments that will stick with us and the creative ventures that have blossomed.
Mornings were special. We woke up to a giant pitcher of tea full of fresh herbs picked from the garden (there was coffee too, not to worry) to then gather on the porch and move. Sometimes through a sweaty yoga session, other mornings we just breathed or walked around the San Pedro labyrinth to meditate. The air was clear, birds were chirping and volcanic peaks surrounded us.
It is not often that we get to see where our products come from… this trip allowed us to take a deep dive into the beauty of slow, intentional craftsmanship and left us with a renewed appreciation for the journey of making rather than just the end product. Here is an image of Robyn fearlessly foraging deep in the Intag Cloud Forest for tree park to provide the natural dye we use to make our handwoven, cabuya bags and our own tie dye masterpieces. :)
“This trip inspired my creative side and rejuvenated my soul.” - Robyn
OUR INCREDIBLE PARTNERS
This trip gave us the opportunity to really share the partnerships we cherish. Here we are making hats the traditional way at Zoila’s (5th generation!) hat studio. We took that funky looking piece of wool and made it into a beautiful hat! All with the help of Carlos and his mama Zoila and their bright, bright smiles.
“Oh wow... It will be an experience that I will never forget and feel it's shaped me into the person I'm on the journey of becoming. I felt so inspired by all the women on the trip and those we got to work with. And to travel and experience new cultures. Thank you thank you thank you for such a life changing trip” - Kait Hartman
BOY was it humbling realizing how unskilled we are with our hands! Everything from hammering our leather wallets to cutting down agave.. It’s all harder than it looks, lemme tell ya. Here’s Paco teaching us how to make a leather wallet, 10 times the time it takes him to do so on his own.
CONNECTIONSome of our most impactful experiences through the week were opportunities to connect with each other over DELICIOUS food. This experience was particularly special. We arrived at Finca Ellis - a sustainable farm close to Cotacachi. Debra, the owner, is on a mission to serve the Andean community surrounding her farm. Her passion and open-heartedness is absolutely contagious. We sat at a long table overlooking the farm. Debra cooked us veggie delights- empanadas that make me drool just thinking about em’ and chicken sourced from her next door neighbors. All topped off by the opportunity to dance around and enjoy traditional music performed by a band of indigenous locals.
We set out to create a trip that connected and inspired us. Seeing the impact that this experience had for us during our week together and beyond was a dream. Since getting home, the inspiration from this trip has manifested in various ways. Some of us are finally making time for the crafts we love (with the help of a three month quarantine) others have started businesses or creative projects. We are proud and excited for each of these amazing women and are celebrating the journey with them.
“This trip impacted me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I didn't expect to have such a (positive) emotional reaction to all of the events that took place. The land, and people are so beautiful and that was such a huge part of the impact.” - Taylor
Since arriving home Taylor has started a jewelry business called Tierra Made. Follow her journey here @tierramadejewelry
“Made by Minga’s Creative Escape was a highly introspective, soulful, and empowering experience one will never forget. It gave me the opportunity of meeting and connecting with amazing human beings from all walks of life, and learn insightful and inspirational history + culture from Ecuadorian artisans. This trip holds a special place in my heart!” - Dara
Since getting home Dara has started an artisan brownie company. (I’m not drooling - you’re drooling.) You can follow her journey here @bougiebrownies.la
We have not set a date for our next trip yet due to the unpredictability of the world… BUT we have a good feeling about all of this and feel fired up to continue these adventures when the time is right. If you are interested in being looped in on our next trip share your email through this link and you will be the first to hear when spots open up. :) https://mailchi.mp/6eef7ee6607a/rw95taw13b