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  • Off the Street and into the Gallery

    In a city known for its vibrant, rapidly evolving urban art scene – picture garage doors enlivened with splashy color, tall buildings covered in dreamy murals, brick walls tattooed with politically charged stencils – graffiti is no longer relegated the outdoors. The street art enthusiasts behind Graffitimundo have opened UNION, a new gallery and project space dedicated to exhibiting the work of prominent urban artists in Buenos Aires and beyond.

  • Tigua Art: Artist Julio Toaquiza

    You’ll find Tigua Art everywhere in Ecuador. It’s a staple of artisanal markets, craft stores and souvenir shops. But, what is Tigua? The word could come to mean a style of quintessentially Ecuadorian naïve painting, at least that is what most people equate it to today: strikingly colorful landscapes with hills and mountains, rural farmland, patchwork valleys, straw huts, maize fields, an occasional snow-peak (namely Cotopaxi) and Andean regulars such as the Condor, the Llama, the Masked Dancer, the Potato Picker, the sheep, the poncho-clad farmers …

  • Bogotá Day Trips: Zipaquirá

    It’s nearly impossible to spend more than a day in Bogotá without being peer-pressured by locals to make the trek out to the nearby town of Zipaquirá. The main attraction in town is the Salt Cathedral, a somewhat peculiar, religiously-inclined sort of museum inside a massive salt mine – however, the city is also a lovely example of a typical central Andean village, and there’s plenty to see in addition to walking through the Stations of the Cross in an underground salt mine.

  • A Hidden Treasure: Old Cathedral in Cuenca

    Parque Calderón, Cuenca’s main square, is dominated by the view of spectacular Catedral de la Inmaculada, also known as Catedral Nueva (meaning New Cathedral), the enormous monument that impressed Pope John Paul II to the point of déjà vu. “I feel like I’m in Rome,” he apparently told a crowd of thousands when standing in front of it for the first (and only) time in his life. This emblematic brick-laid ‘beast’ was meant to replace the smaller, much less impressive original temple, today commonly known as the Old Cathedral (Catedral Vieja), found across the park on Calle Benigno Malo.

  • A block in My Neighborhood: Borges in Buenos Aires

    ‘And the city, now,’ wrote Jorge Luis Borges of Buenos Aires, ‘is like a map of my humiliations and failures.’ Argentina’s foremost literary hero had a complicated relationship to his hometown. The writer was, as his poetry suggests, at turns enchanted and discouraged – seduced and repelled – by the city where he spent his life.

    I find myself thinking about those complexities some days as I run to the subway or walk to the market to buy milk – walking along the Palermo street where Borges used to live as a boy, a street that has since been named after him.

  • Black Clay Pottery

    The Encalada family house, in the neighborhood of Convención del 45, has become one of my favorite off-the-beaten-track recommendations in Cuenca. The picturesque one-story house at Mariscal Lamar 24-90 y Paredes, with its very own Colonial-style tiled roof and adobe walls to fit, is the humble abode of one-and-only ‘black clay’ pottery, an Encalada-family signature product that I, for one, believe hasn’t enjoyed the spotlight time it deserves on the Ecuadorian arts-and-crafts stage.

  • Quito: What Makes a World Wonder

    Quito was the first city in the world, together with Krakow (Poland), to be recognized as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1978. It is, of course, a little like calling Quito a ‘wonder city’ – coincidentally, we might add, Quito has also been considered a finalist in the 7 Wonder Cities of the World shortlist – and attests to the fact that its uniqueness makes it one of the most special urban centers on our planet. Here are only some of the reasons:

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