Some of the finest straw hats in the world come from Ecuador. The best sell for hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Most of that money goes to the dealers and retail stores — the weavers themselves don’t earn enough to live on. But a retired U.S. advertising executive says he has a plan to create more demand for the hats and pay the best weavers a decent wage. Mary Stucky reports from the central coast of Ecuador.
By Mary Losure
“There!” Our guide, Cirilo Tapui, points with his machete. “A gigantic woodpecker.”
I follow his gaze. Gigantic is right.
A ray of sun backlights the bird’s brilliant red crest as it pounds its huge beak on a dead tree — THWOK! THWOK! THWOK! Here in the Ecuadorian Amazon, immense and flashy birds like this still thrive, along with monkeys, tapirs, caimans and even, here and there, a jaguar.
And it’s possible,
Planning to buy a bouquet of roses for someone you love?
If, like 90 percent of the roses sold in the U.S. today, they’re imported, they may have a dark history. The workers who grew them might have been child laborers. The blooms might have been exposed to deadly, environment-polluting pesticides.
But those scenarios are beginning to change. Move over, fair-trade coffee. Now, there are fair-trade flowers.
A trade deal with several South American countries expires tomorrow. But President Bush is expected to sign an eight-month extension — which would be a rosy deal for a country like Ecuador. We’ve had this pact with Peru, Columbia, Bolivia and Ecuador for 16 years. They send goods to the U.S. duty-free.In exchange, they’re supposed to crack down on the production of cocaine and other drugs. It’s a rosy deal for a country like Ecuador. Ecuador provides a quarter of the roses sold in this country.