Rose Plantation

Several times throughout our tour of Ecuador, we heard about their production of roses. They are everywhere, decorating every hotel and restaurant. A17361717_10154131007516920_916788562876517059_nlthough roses are not native to Ecuador, the country has a perfect environment for rose cultivation, and is presently one of the world’s major producers. Ecuador actually exports 400 million roses a day.

We went to a rose plantation near Latacunga.  We ventured under the giant canopy which housed hundreds of rose bushes. These were long stem roses. We could see yellow tags marking the ones that were ready to be picked.

FullSizeRender (15)We walked through the fields outside and then into the final building where the cut roses were taken and checked for quality, de-thorned, sorted, and then put into boxes to be shipped out. We learned about the workers and met several. We were given a rose as a  souvenier.

We finished the tour in the giant refrigerator (that felt a little like heaven) where the ready-to-be-shipped roses waited for pick up.

One fun fact we learned was that if you were to give a rose to your sweetheart in Ecuador, it probably wouldn’t be met with gratitude because they are so cheap. 17309627_10210366764818597_5159556340110574569_n

 

 

Exploring Quito

Our first day in Ecuador started early with a buffet breakfast at our hotel. I had expected an Ecuadorian breakfast, but instead the buffet was filled with a western style breakfast: eggs, bacon, sausage, pastries, etc.  If you want the Ecuadorian breakfast, you have to pay  extra for it. Seeing that it consisted largely of soups I stuck with coffee and a muffin.

After breakfast we waited in the Hilton Colon lobby for the other members of our tour group. One thing that stood out was the huge vases of the longstem roses everywhere. It turns out that roses are the second most exported product from Ecuador (oil being number one). They export 400 million roses her day.


We loaded the bus and took off for the Old Town section of Quito. Quito is the capital city of Ecuador is almost 3000 feet above sea level. It’s famed as the highest capital city in the world, and walking around I instantly felt the altitude.

Our first stop was Quito Cathedral. It’s the largest church in South America. This was also a made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978. Quito has one of the most intact historical centers on the continent.


I was more interested in exploring the area around the Cathedral than paying the fee to go inside. There were great views of the city below. Also, there were many vendors selling coca leaves and candy. Even though it’s illegal to grow coca in Ecuador, they are brought in from Peru and sold. Of course I had to try out the candy, and will say that it is no joke! One piece of candy has the same effect as an energy drink on me. It definitely helped with the altitude.

All amped up on coca candy, we continued our tour of Quito. We went to the Inglesia de la Compania de Jesus (Church of the Society of Jesus). Even though pictures were forbidden inside (so you will buy the postcards), I managed to capture a few. The amount of gold in this church is excessive. Everything is covered in gold.

After getting our shiny fix we ventured through the Plaza de la Independence, the central public square of the city. I watched political groups protest, religious groups sing, and locals sitting on benches having conversations. We walked by lots of vendors peddling ice cream, sunglasses, coca leaves, and clothing for dogs.

As we were heading back to our bus an elderly woman bumped into one of our group members. After getting settled onto the bus our group member realized that the clumsy elderly lady had relieved her of her iPhone that was in a pocket in her backpack. I helped her track the phone and then wipe it with the Find My Iphone app. We were told that Iphones are not imported into Ecuador and can be sold for up to $1800.

I was happy to be heading out of the city.