Anytime I have an opportunity to meet a person who is acclaimed for some reason, for example Eduardo Vega, a Cuenca Ecuador living treasure, I try to at least say hello without bothering them. My experience has taught me that famous people do not like to be bothered by autograph seekers or just nosey people. But if you can approach a famous person, and have a little knowledge of what interests them; they may amaze you.
My friend Gordon and I wanted to see Cuenca, Ecuador from the highest point we could find. The Mirador at Turi is an exceptional good lookout point over the sprawling city. We walked up to Turi from the city center, but you can easily ride the city bus or take a taxi. The city bus which is prominently marked for Turi costs .25 cents. It is the most fun because it is always teeming with uniformed school children. You’re packed in, and immediately immersed in the hilarity “du jour.”
If you decide to walk you get the bonus of a good stretch of the legs. The final ascent to Turi is on a public stairway made up of hundreds of steps. It is a substantial climb and it will raise your heart rate for sure. Anyway, when you arrive it is worth the effort.
We enjoyed the view from the Mirador, and had a refreshing ice cream cone to reward ourselves. Walking around, we saw a beautifully carved wooden door leading to a garden of some kind. The sign said “taller” – that means workroom or studio. We knew a famous artist lived up here, but could we have found him so easily?
We went in and looked around a wonderful gallery with pictures of famous people on the walls. This was the “taller” of Eduardo Vega. We had heard of this Cuenca Ecuador living treasure from friends but did not know much about him. We were soon finding out that he was a world famous ceramist. He had learned his craft in the salons of Europe, and was now headquartered in Cuenca where he was born. He had an association with Pablo Picasso at some point, and that made him more interesting to us. The gallery had unique pieces that made you feel warm and wanting to see more. We knew we were in the presence of a genius.
The studio and gallery were empty, except for us. There was a man off in a corner with an apparent assistant taking measurement for a project. It was Vega himself. He said hello and told us he was designing a Christmas present to bring to a party he was attending in Quito.
We soon realized that we all had something in common – Irish ancestry. Vega had asked our nationality. He said he was also Irish due to marriage with his wife who came from Ireland. After talking for a while with this kindly gentleman, he asked to take a picture with us to celebrate our Irish backgrounds.
Eduardo Vega was extremely cordial. He asked us to sign his register book which we did. We were amazed to see the names that preceded us. We felt thrilled and inspired by association with the names we saw inscribed.
Upon leaving, Vega asked us to take one of his creations as a gift, so we would remember him.
Fat chance we would ever forget! We could not make up our minds, so Eduardo chose a cup for each of us. Later, we discovered from friends just how Eduardo Vega is a local pop star. Our friends had witnessed an incident when Vega entered a restaurant, the locals chanted “Vega, Vega” in his honor.
I will always remember the day when a great man reached out to us, and offered friendship and warmth in his “taller” in Turi. My theory is that great people will show you their greatness, if you just let it them. Also, having something in common helps. Sometimes just our humanness is enough.
Denis A. Molloy
Denis was born in Chicago 1942 to a second generation Irish immigrant family. Educated at Jesuit Loyola Academy, Wilmette, Illinois; Marquette University, then Marquette University Dental School. Retired after 45 years dental practice. He enjoys golf, sailing, and canoeing the wild and pristine waterways of Northern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. Many years of international travel have led him to a second career in writing. You can find his blog called “Vigor” at www.quora.com or at http://daincolgate.wordpress.com/.