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Today we moved to a train tour package with  Tren Cucero.  We got up early to take a tour bus to Otavalo.  That’s about 2 hours away.  First stop was Miriam Lago, no not Trump’s place but one of the larger lake towns.  It translates to Mirror Lake, and it was.

There of course is shopping available and we tried on (but did not buy) Panama Hats.  Turns out they are made in Ecuador, not Panama but Teddy Roosevelt got one when he visited the canal and everyone started calling them Panama Hats after that.

We then got on a train and toured along the country side.  Pretty nice setup and fairly high end.  I could get used to this kind of living ;). We were met by some local musicians at the train station.  

We stopped a couple times to see things and this little darling was there to pose.  Yes that’s her smile.

We visited a textile factory and learned how cotton was milled and woven.  

There is this very cool sculpture out front made from old machinery.

It must have been insanely loud in there when all the machines were running.  Lots of bare metal gears and clanking levers.  The tour guide did mention people lost hearing, had lung issues due to dust and ended up losing hands or fingers in the looms.  The factory was in production from 1924 to 1997.  At one point had 1200 workers split into 12 hours shifts.  It was the size of 2 football fields or so.

Another short ride down the rails to a wood carving shop.  They make commision work for churches mostly.  Next time you step into a Catholic Church their work may be in there.  I will appreciate the intricacies of the next church we visit!  It’s a ton of work for what we now just take for granted.

This master has been carving for 65 years (since he was 12) and refuses to stop.  It’s his passion.

Some of the more finished pieces after painting and gold-leaf application.   They don’t look like wood at all.

Then we were back on the bus to have lunch at a hacienda that is still used by the family.  It’s on their rose plantation.

Roses are everywhere here.  Ecuador is a major world producer due to good volcanic soil and 12 hours of sunlight per day with the sun directly overhead -makes for very straight rose stems.  

Front entrance foyer

The exterior of the hacienda.  It has it’s own chapel.  You know you’ve made it big when you have your own chapel.

RosaDex produces 21 Million roses per year and processes 40 000 stems per day!  This is just one of many plantations we’ve seen.

Here is the prep area. Roses are graded for stem length and whether the bud is  closed or partially open.   North America likes shorter stems and more open buds.  Europe closed buds and longer stems. Russia? Bigger is better for both.

At the end of the row wating to move to the prep area.  And below one of the many growing buildings.

They can grow 4-5 crops a year and have seasons, but not like normal ones.  They have Valentines season, Women’s Day Season, Mother’s Day Season.  Valentines being the biggest.    They change colours depending on the season.  Red for Valentine’s Day, orange and white for fall and yellow and pink for Mother’s Day.  Interesting business for sure.

Because they are equatorial they get 12 hours of light per day all year and the sun is overhead so the stems grow straight.  Those rose bushes in the above shot are at least 6′ tall.
They are cut when ready.  Women are better than men apparently at judging detail and are also more gentle.  Makes sense to me.

Here they are cut from the bush ready to be moved to the prep area.

China likes dyed roses.  The crazier the better.

 Once sized they are packed into wholesale bunches of 25 per package.

The plantation has a showroom.  They grow 45 types here but there are over 500.  Who knew?

If you had asked me in the morning what my highlight of the day would be, I never would have said roses.  But it was very cool to see how it’s done.

Tomorrow we on the train full time.  Should be an adventure.

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