Whether in the winter or the summer, craftsmen from different corners of the country get to this city with their colorful stands and assorted products.
All urban settlements in Argentinian Patagonia are characterized by giving some space to craftsmen who make and offer their handicrafts made with noble local materials. Craftsmen await tourists at their attractive street stands in the main square in San Martín de los Andes
Whenever we travel for pleasure and find this kind of market, it is usual to feel like buying something typical from the destination we are visiting, a souvenir
. In this opportunity, we walked along the block where the stands are arranged on both sidewalks with one central corridor often crowded with curious prospective customers who share our aim.
We stopped at every stand in order to assert that there are as many proposals as there are craftsmen. Some of them make knives with very original designs, others make pottery and most of them make jewelry with silver or alpaca
(nickel silver) and precious stones and set with gems.
We tried on some shawls knitted with two needles and others woven in the Mapuche loom. We also stopped to see some very eye-catching lamps made of wood and some mates
made with gourd and lined with leather.
One of our daughters was extremely enthusiastic about having her hair braided and buying some quite original leather sandals. The children ran to the stands offering puppets, kaleidoscopes and beautiful educational games made of wood.
Elves are the most popular characters, as they come from the Patagonian forests and each of them has a special tale. Certain elves made of ceramic seem to have a life of their own and lean out of trees, branches and leaves in curiosity.
“I choose to make the most of the time I spend here, so I keep on working”, says a craftsman while he braids some very thin leather strips. Thus, it is usual for prospective buyers to stop and watch the way he moves his hands and make some questions about his absolutely handcrafted technique.
Some settle down halfway through the morning and others do not come along until the early afternoon, when the sun sets in the summer and visitors come back from their tours around the city and its outskirts.
Street artists arrive late in the afternoon to present their musical or magic shows before the countless passer-bys. This way, children sit on the floor and laugh with the clowns and mimes that entertain both grown-ups and kids.
Walking among the craftsmen and street artists is free. It was inevitable for us to buy something and leave some coins for the performers as they passed their caps around at the end of the show.
It was summer. The night and the square were a spectacle themselves. We were told that in winter, the temperature forces them to take shelter inside some air-conditioned tent. Seasons follow one another in San Martín de los Andes and craftsmen will keep impressing everyone with their skills at a traditional location in the city.