BEHIND THE LENS
SAN CLEMENTE DE IMBABURA (AND ITS SURROUNDINGS), ECUADOR BY SOLEDAD ROSALES
Born in Quito in 1980, Soledad Rosales inherited her love for photography from her great-great-grandfather Benjamín, a renowned portrait photographer in Ecuador. She studied photographic design, and later became a professor at the institution from which she graduated. Her work shows a clear affinity for the feminine and the aesthetic.
Soledad has worked in the field of commercial production for brands and designers, and has developed personal projects in search of her own conceptual approach. She has been published in the pages of various print and digital media, both inside and outside Ecuador, and has participated in several exhibitions and publications.
In addition to photography, she collaborates in projects that involve photography without necessarily intervening as a photographer. This new stage includes directing and scriptwriting for audiovisual projects, as well as editing, management, curatorship and consulting for editorial products and exhibitions. She does all this with her husband (also a photographer) and their three dogs.
What took you to San Clemente?
We have always traveled (with my husband and, when possible, with the three dogs) wherever possible. We pack everything we need (including my 300 beauty products) and off we go. We like discovering places more than following a guidebook. One weekend, we wanted to go somewhere nearby and this province (Imbabura) is my husband’s favorite. He found a house available in a new place: San Clemente.
What does San Clemente smell like?
Wet grass and burnt firewood with a hint of sheepfold.
What does it taste like?
Best discovery of the trip?
To finally meet Matico Lema and Paola in their artisan weaving workshop in Peguche, just 30 minutes from San Clemente. And Razu, the host family dog who accompanied us on the morning walk.
If you had to pick your favorite thing in San Clemente, what would it be?
The houses (including the one where we stayed): totally different from all the ones I had seen in other communities in the Sierra. They are large and made of brick, stone or wood; there are even houses in the trees.
What was your first impression of the city?
That it’s an Andean version of La Comarca (the Hobbit village from Lord of the Rings).
If San Clemente had a soundtrack, what songs would be included?
A strange (unidentified) rendition of Elvis Presley’s Can’t Help Falling In Love With You, which we heard on local radio while riding in the car.
When you travel to San Clemente, you can’t miss _____.
A walk first thing in the morning, and later, a tour of the surrounding villages.
A typical food or drink?
Corn in all its forms: tender, cooked in water with beans and cheese, grilled, toasted with chochos, bread-like in a humita de sal or sweet and in the drinkable version as chicha.
Something everyone should know before visiting San Clemente?
Never underestimate the power of comfortable shoes and a good sweater to keep you warm. Nearby there are many places to explore in a short time: Zuleta, Otavalo, Peguche, Lake San Pablo and, after finishing, return to the tranquility of San Clemente.
What is the most special thing about San Clemente, something you haven’t seen anywhere else?
The organizational capacity of rural community-based tourism.
All the words I did not understand from the language of the communities: Kichwa.
What is beauty to you?
Anything that can be enjoyed without much thought.