I took a trip with new friends Connie and Bob Grady and Ken March to see the Jose Jimenez Ikat weavers at Casa de Makana, shop for jewelry in the town of Chordeleg, and visit Ecuagenera Orchid Cultivation Center.
As soon as I got back to Cuenca it was time to get ready to a going-away party for Llona Doubet, Kathy Ulrich and Tony Cebrian. Llona will move back to Texas soon to be nearer her family and Kathy and Tony are off to a new life in Medellin, Colombia. Rick Hubbert and Ali Spence were the hosts and there was live music by a father and daughter from Russia.
The roots of Ecuagenera began in the 50s when Salesian Father Angel Andreetta came to Ecuador from Italy. He began research, selection and collection of some of the 4200 species of orchids found in Ecuador. He became the pioneer of the study of orchids in the region. Because of his efforts, Ecuador participated in their first World of Orchids exhibition in Colombia in 1968.
Andreetta employed a young man with a great love of nature named Mario Portilla who would become his main ally for many years. They continued the collection of orchids and created Ecuagenera, dedicated to the preservation and marketing of orchid plants and incorporated as Ecuagenera Cia. Ltd. This company is responsible for the preservation of the Andreetta orchid collection, today carefully preserved to ensure the maintenance and reproduction of some species.
In 1993 Ecuagenera became the first Ecuadorian company granted permission for export of plants from the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).