Visiting the Kazuri Bead Factory in Nairobi, Kenya

Although it is referred to as the Kazuri Bead Factory, it is really an artisan workshop where the beads for necklaces and bracelets as well as other pottery are created. Everything created by the artisans for Kazuri are handmade and hand-painted based on a preset pattern that each of the workers follow. In addition to creating beautiful jewelry and pottery, Kazuri provides work for mostly single mothers and provides free medical care for their employees and their immediate family. Buying items from Kazuri, which are sold worldwide, is really an opportunity to get some something beautiful and help the people as well.

Artisans at Work
Beads Ready for Necklaces and Bracelets
Clay Strips Waiting to Become Jewelry
One of the Kilns

It all starts by making the clay which is pressed into blocks, then cut into strips that are scored to create smaller squares. The soft clay is then formed by hand into different size beads for the jewelry, a hole is poked through the center, and then it is kilned to create the hard bead. For the pottery, the clay is formed into bowls, cups, plates, and other forms and then also sent to the kiln to be baked and hardened. After the clay has been baked, it then goes to another set of artisans who began to paint the clay based on the pattern that they are working with. It is up to the individual artist as to whether they would add the base paint, let it dry, and paint any details before sending it to the kiln or whether they would bake it after applying the base paint and then adding the details and baking a final time. Once it is baked with the color, the beads have the shine that one would expect it to have.

Rolling the Clay into Beads
Preparing the Beads for Glazing
Necklaces in the Store
Hand-Painting the Beads

The jewelry and pottery created by Kazuri is truly beautiful, but we were certain that we didn’t have the patience to do the detail work by hand that the women of the factory did. We enjoyed walking through the shop after taking a tour of the factory and we did buy a couple of necklaces while we were there. Taking the tour of the Kazuri Bead Factory only takes about an hour, but it is certainly worth the time.

Clay Beads After Being Fired in the Kiln
Pottery Waiting to be Painted
Putting the Necklaces Together
Pottery in the Store

Artisan and Craft Market in the Beautiful Parque El Ejido in Quito, Ecuador

In order to walk to the old town quarter of Quito in Ecuador from our hotel, we had to walk through Parque El Ejido. It is a lovely park that has a nice artisan and craft market as well as plenty of open space. Located right in the city, it can be quite busy at times as families gather to have a picnic or play a game of soccer. There is also an interesting arch located in the park, simply called Arco de El Ejido with a statue of two men battling one another.

Arco de El Ejido
Unique Statue at the Park
Colorful Artwork for Sale in the Park
Open Green Spaces Away from the Crowds

We love finding markets where we can buy local arts and crafts whenever we travel to places. We typically try to bring something home with us to remember our trip, especially if it is something that we can display. While we were in Quito, we found a local artist in the market that sold watercolor paintings and we couldn’t resist buying an original piece of art. Whether you want jewelry, clothing, or art, there are an abundance of options.

Our Painting of Quito, Ecuador
Walking Amongst the Stalls
Crowds Amongst the Artwork
Walking Through the Park and Shade Trees

Even if you aren’t interested in the market, just enjoying the shade of the trees, the open grassy areas, or even getting something sweet from a food vendor makes visiting the park worthwhile. Since we walked through the park both ways to and from our hotel in Quito, we had plenty of time to enjoy the vibrant atmosphere. We have been to many wonderful parks during our travels, but this one is truly one of our favorites.

Looking Through the Arch at the Statue
Leisurely Stroll Through the Park’s Vendors
More Artwork for Sale
Large Park with Room to Escape the Busy Market Area

Jackson Square in New Orleans, Louisiana

While Bourbon Street might be the heart of the French Quarter during the night, Jackson Square is the heart of the French Quarter during the day. With many different local artists performing and selling local items, the area is full of activity throughout the day. The St. Louis Cathedral is also there as well as the Cabildo, which is a museum reflecting the history of region. There are also many different restaurants on the streets surrounding Jackson Square offering some of the best food in New Orleans. Needless to say, being a location that draws so many tourists, there are also a variety of stores that sell a wide variety of items that represent New Orleans.

Jackson Square, Andrew Jackson’s Statue, and the St. Louis Cathedral

Crowds Watching a Performer

As different artists perform, from musicians, magicians, and jugglers, to acrobats and dancers, crowds gather around making it difficult to make your way through the area. As one artist finishes their performance, another will immediately start setting up near by. Many of these performances at Jackson Square are quite entertaining and they make their living from the tips that they receive once their performance is over. Because it is their source of income, they can be quite aggressive as they ask for people to pay for the performance that they just watched.

Artists Selling Artwork

St. Louis Cathedral

The focal point of Jackson Square is the park with its statue of Andrew Jackson on his horse. There are many benches within the park where you can sit and relax away from the noise of the people gathered in front of the cathedral. There are also several flower beds and shade trees, although we were there during December, so they weren’t all in bloom. In addition to the artists performing, you will find artists selling paintings and crafts all along the fence that surrounds the park. Depending upon your taste, you can likely find something interesting if you are looking for something original.

Performers Just Gathering a Crowd

At the Edge of the Park

Jackson Square will certainly be quite crowded throughout the day as throngs of crowds flock their to visit the park, see the performers, and go into the cathedral. It is certainly one of the more family friendly areas within the French Quarter and you can certainly spend a couple of hours in the area. It is also right by the Mississippi River and you can go on a riverboat cruise following your time in Jackson Square. Additionally, there are horse-drawn carriages offering to take you on tours of the French Quarter.

Shade Trees and Vendor Carts

Walking into Jackson Square