Ecuador Culture / Ecuador Economy / Ecuador Tours / Otavalo / Places in Ecuador

Lynn Meisch: Anthropologist, Scholar and Otavalo Expert

By Linda McFarlin

While we were conducting our recent Introduction to Ecuador Course and Tour, we stayed at  two Casa Sol hotels, charming hotels located in Peguche and Quito. Casa Sol in Quito is an especially great place to hang out and meet other gringos and travelers.  

Two of the people we were fortunate to meet at Casa Sol were Lynn Meisch and her friend and travelling partner, Bob Gardner. Bob and Lynn are both teachers at St. Mary’s College, California.

Lynn is one of the foremost experts and scholars in the world on the indigenous of Otavalo. A professor of anthropology at St. Mary’s, Lynn is also a teacher of textile techniques, textile collector for museum exhibitions and a tour guide.

According to Bob, Lynn has 27 Ecuadorian godchildren. She was still at Casa Sol because a piece of her luggage, the one with gifts for her godchildren, was lost in transit from the U.S. She was waiting and hoping that it showed up or there would be a lot of very disappointed kids.

Both she and Bob are back in Ecuador to film the Inti Rymi festival in Otavalo with old friends that she first met in Ecuador in the ‘60’s or ‘70’s. They all went their separate ways but are now reuniting to make a film.

Meish has written extensively about Otavalo and the country’s textiles. One of her books, “Andean Entrepeneurs: Otavalo Merchants and Musicians in the Global Arena,” details changes in the lives, culture, social relationships, families and business practices of Otavalo natives during the last thirty+ years. Otavalo indigenous have left their homes in Ecuador to sells crafts and their traditional music in dozens of countries worldwide.

In the process they have accumulated wealth and become very astute businessmen and woman, returning to Ecuador with new ideas. The best of these concepts and practices they are successfully adapting into their own culture.

Gary and I are living in an apartment owned by a couple of these unique people. The owners of the hotel/apartment building in which we live, are currently in New York. They sell goods from Otavalo in New York and at festivals all over the U.S. They tell us they especially like to go to Indian pow-wows in the Dakotas.

When the owners accumulate some extra money, they invest it by adding some more touches to the hotel, which acts as kind of a personal bank. Last year’s enhancements to the hotel were glass shower doors and new ceiling lights. Otavalans are some of the most prosperous indigenous people in the world.

Other books Lynn has authored are “Traditional Textiles of the Andes: Life and Cloth in the Highlands,” and “A Traveler’s Guild to El Dorado and the Inca Empire,” in its third printing. This last book is considered one of the best studies on the Inca Empire.

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3 Comments

  1. Patricia Meloy says:

    Lynn, glad to see you are back to work in Ecuador. When do you have to come back? Seeing you busy in your photos is great.
    Very sincerely yours,
    Patricia Meloy

    Will never forget the work in Alausi. And Jackie saying, upon our return each day, “Goodbye God, we’re going to Alausi.” Great stories.

  2. Hi Domingo,

    We think one of the best banks in Ecuador is Banco Pichincha. They have a branch in Miami, which makes it easy to transfer money from the U.S.

    Of course, we recommend studying our website and this blog. There is much very helpful information here, and some of it is quite buried, so you have to look.

    Let us know if we can help
    Gary

  3. I am seriously considering retiring in Ecuador and need to make
    contact with someone who could advise on the correct steps.
    The most important of course is which is best bank, and how to
    navigate government beauracracy.
    Thank you,
    Domingo