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Off to the fields

As we motor through the rainy Andes Central Cordillera, navigating washed out roads and switchback after switchback, I know we’re in good hands
with our gentle but stalwart driver, Fernando. Today we’ll visit
one of the highest peaks in the Northern Andes Range, Cotopaxi:
http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotopaxi And then it’s off to learn
about the informal economy of Ecuador, largely an indigenous one,
at the Zumbahua market where you can purchase a llama (adult for
$40, baby for $20) and a quintal of potatoes for less than $.20. In
the afternoon we’ll visit a cacao collection station with our good
buddy, and cacao industry rogue, Samuel. He’s an ex-Nestle
agricultural scientist who, after leaving his post there, purchased
a poorly performing R&D coffee farm from Nestle only to
return it to viability and sell it back to them later for a
substantial profit. Samuel is the undisputed genius behind the
preservación and propagation of Ecuador’s Nacional cacao species,
purported as a much higher quality (although lower-yielding)
variety than the newly dominate hybrid species CCN–51.


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