Roses for Your Valentine
A Little History
My sweetie and I love to travel to places that are a little out of the way. Over the past five years, we've become fascinated and enamored with the small Andean country of Ecuador. We first started reading about it in the pages of International Living, where it made the list of Top Ten Retirement Havens. Even though we weren't looking for a retirement haven, we explored further; reading all we could find, and making our first trip there in February, 2006.
We've been back several times, for up to a month at a time, and now have property there where, yes, we plan to spend time (even thought we never intend to retire). We've found a charming village, Cotacachi, in the northern province of Imbabura, where we own a condo and a building lot. There are several other 'gringos' there who we've made friends with. Located in the center of several interesting craft villages, it's easily accessed, just a couple of hours from the airport in Quito.
On the Streets of Old Quito
Children of Ecuador
In our visits to Ecuador over the past three years, we've dabbled in some 'Suitcase Exporting' - buying some of the unique well-made local crafts such as woven shawls, knitted sweaters, leather purses, unique hand-made jewellry, wood carvings, and musical instruments and selling them back home. The markets of Otavalo and Quito, the shops in the towns of Cotacachi, Peguche and San Antonio de Ibarra in the north are vibrant and exciting places to visit and buy quality items for a fraction of what you'd pay in North America.
One of Ecuador's important exports is fresh flowers. As you travel throughout the countryside, you'll notice acres of greenhouses - or more exactly, shade houses. Within these shade houses grow some of the most exquisite roses you'll ever find.
I first noticed the roses as we deplaned for the first time in Quito. The arrivals level displayed several huge rose bouquets. Then, on checking in to Hotel Quito, more enormous bouquets were on display. In the center of the lobby, you'll always see a bouquet that must hold over 5 dozen huge roses, sometimes red, sometimes pink, or perhaps a gorgeous salmon color. These roses last for at least 2 weeks, opening gloriously to full blooms.
Ecuador's Rose Plantations
Environmentally Friendly Roses
The roses your receive are certified by Veriflora. The VERIFLORA seal is a real, green program that regularly spot check farms for ecologically sound systems that include:
1- Water and ecological conservation: implementing water management systems to prevent depletion of fresh water supplies.
2- Product quality: implementing practices to ensure the quality of the product through the whole chain of delivery to the final consumer.
3- Advanced agricultural practices: integrating organic practices wherever possible. To only use approved green label certified pesticides. To allow no discharge of pesticides run off into the environment.
4- Waste management: recycling and composting as well as the proper disposal of agricultural chemicals. By March of 2007 the co-op that sends your roses had certified 144 acres.
Certification means the growers have met or exceeded the requirements. There is no middle ground with Veriflora, no differing levels of certification. You either are ecologically sound and certified, or you aren’t. That means you receive environmentally friendly roses.