Ecuador // The northern sierra //

San Antonio de Ibarra

Just off the Panamericana, 6km west of Ibarra, SAN ANTONIO DE IBARRA is not much more than a handful of streets and a little square, but has nevertheless chiselled its way to fame as a major centre for woodcarving. Its plentiful shops and galleries are crammed with a huge array of subjects and styles, mostly carved in cedar, from saints and angelts to chess sets and life-size carvings of Don Quixote. San Antonio’s best-known artist is Luís Potosí, whose gallery is on the main square, and who seems to have a predilection for nude mothers nursing their newborns. There are many other artists’ showrooms located on the main square and Avenida 27 de Noviembre; prices range from $1500 for large pieces down to $1 for a keyring.