Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador + Casa Museo de la Makana & Paute Ecuador Indigenous Mercado (Episode 66)

The Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador is a short drive from Cuenca Ecuador and a must-see if you’re an orchid lover, or if you just appreciate the beauty and variety of colorful flowers. We also enjoyed visiting Casa Museo de la Makana and the indigenous mercado in Paute Ecuador.

Check out our Day Trips from Cuenca Ecuador for more fun ideas.

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador

We stopped at the Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador in a previous video, but the farm tour was closed that day. Going back for the tour has been on our list for almost a year so we were happy to return.

Ecuagenera Pink Orchid

Our video doesn’t do the orchids justice. To get the full effect of being surrounded by the vibrant colors and immersed in their strong fragrance, you really need to visit yourself. The tour was in Spanish, but we were able to understand most of what our guide said and Edwin helped us fill in the missing pieces.

We didn’t realize how much effort goes into raising orchids! Our guide told us it takes 5 years for an orchid to grow large enough to be sold, and they cost $100! They truly are an amazing flower!

Casa Museo de la Makana Gualaceo Ecuador

After we left the Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador, we went back to Casa Museo de la Makana to get the official tour from the owner, José Jiménez. He’s a celebrity in Ecuador because his picture is on billboards throughout the country advertising his the traditional indigenous makanas. Edwin was very excited to meet him!

José Jiménez Casa Museo de la Makana

When we visited last time, it was also closed but one of los hijos de José (one of Jose’s sons) gave us an impromptu tour. This time, we got to see the whole operation in full motion. Everyone was working!

Casa Museo de la Makana Billboard

El Centro y El Mercado en Paute Ecuador

After we left Casa Museo de la Makana, we asked Edwin to show us the pueblita where he lives, Paute, Ecuador. A billboard on the way into town advertising dish soap has inadvertently (I think) given the town a motto: Tierra de Buenos Esposos. This translates to Land of Good Husbands, implying the husbands help out around the house by washing dishes. We all got a good laugh about that, especially after my comment in our Cost of Living in Cuenca Ecuador video!

Paute Tierra de Buenos Esposos

We enjoy visiting the small towns in Ecuador because it’s like stepping back in time. Lots of people walk around the city centers, conducting their daily business, relaxing in the parks, or just living their lives.

The mercados are always a favorite attraction, too. They’re full of indigenous people selling the most beautiful looking fruits and vegetables! And, of course, wearing their traditional paja toquillas (Panama Hats).

Pauto Mercado

Amelia even bought a bag of weeds to make some traditional Horchata Tea. In fact, I’m drinking a cup right now and it’s delicious!

Horchata Tea

We’ve known about Horchata Tea for a while and drank some in a previous video when we went to San Bartolomé Ecuador, but we were kind of afraid to make it. Edwin helped us by asking for 50 cents (cincuenta centavos) of the tea plants.  He told us to take a little bit of each and steep it in hot water like we would any other tea. It was super easy to make and we’ll be having it often now.

Hopefully you enjoyed our video, and if you did, please LIKE, COMMENT and SHARE it, and SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel. ¡Muchas Gracias y Hasta Luego!

Unbelievable Orchids in Gualaceo Ecuador + Handmade Macanas (Episode 17/Part 3)

For our first tourist-y excursion since we’ve been in Cuenca Ecuador, we took a trip east of town to three different artisan villages: San Bartolomé, Chordeleg and Gualaceo. This video covers the third town of Gualaceo Ecuador, which is famous for its orchids and textiles.

Be sure to check out our other videos from this excursion to San Bartolomé Ecuador (Part 1) and Chordeleg Ecuador (Part 2).

We hope you enjoy seeing the beautiful Andean scenery, the picturesque town of Gualaceo, and the interesting people we meet along the way. We’ve also included some Spanish language learning opportunities for you.

People & Places

Bridge Over the River in Gualaceo Ecuador

Wood Bridge Gualaceo Ecuador

Our guide, Wilson, assured us this rickety looking one lane bridge over the river was perfectly safe. I’m pretty sure it was older than it looked, and it looked ancient. Nevertheless, we did survive the crossing that’s used by lots of cars, people and dogs on a daily basis.

Cañari Indigenous Woman in Gualaceo Ecuador

Woman in Gualaceo Ecuador

I captured this Cañari indigenous woman walking down the street with her navy blue plaid macana draped over her shoulder. They were the originators of the Panama Hat, and still wear them along with their colorful skirts and sweaters.

This woman is probably a little more than 4 feet tall. The average height of women in Ecuador is only 5 feet, but most of the indigenous women are much shorter than that. Amelia, at 5 feet tall, is a giant standing next to them!

Rosero – The Traditional Drink of Gualaceo Ecuador

Rosero Gualaceo Ecuador

Rosero is the traditional drink that’s only found in Gualaceo Ecuador. It’s made with corn flower, fruits and spices. It has a thick, creamy texture like a smoothie and it’s a little sweet, but not too sweet. We enjoyed it with a piece of bread.

Both pieces of bread and both cups of Rosero cost us a total of $1.30 and they were well worth it. Both were delicious!

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm in Gualaceo Ecuador

Ecuagenera Orchid Farm Gualaceo Ecuador

Ecuador is famous worldwide for its orchids, especially the high altitude orchids that grow in Gualaceo. Ecuagenera is an orchid farm on the edge of Gualaceo that offers tours of the farm, but the tour was closed on Sunday. We did get to enjoy the store, though.

It’s impossible to describe how wonderful the store smelled when we walked in. I didn’t realize how amazingly beautiful and aromatic orchids are. Some smelled like extremely potent flowers, some smelled like chocolate, and some smelled like rotting meat. They seemed otherworldly. Now I understand why orchids have such a huge fanbase.

Here are some pictures of the orchids we saw:

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 4

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 2

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 3

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 5

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 6

Orchid Gualaceo Ecuador 7

We’re looking forward to returning when the tour is open so we can see the whole farm and learn more about orchids. We highly recommend stopping by to experience this truly remarkable flower.

Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Entering the workshop where they make macanas, the traditional scarves of the Cañari Ecuadorian women, was like stepping back in time. The indigenous people have been making macanas in this way for over 1,000 years (more than 500 years before Columbus sailed the ocean blue), passing the trade down from generation to generation.

Like the guitar and ceramic artisans, this is also a dying trade. The current generation is losing interest in the family tradition and moving away in hopes of finding better opportunities in Cuenca and beyond.

Macana Color Dye Pots in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Color Dye Pots Gualaceo Ecuador

These ancient pots are still used to make the dyes that give each macana its unique and colorful look. In this photo, the artisan is demonstrating how they make the color indigo from indigofera plants found in abundance in tropical climates like Ecuador.

They use all sorts of native plants, rocks and even baking soda to create every color in the rainbow.

View from Macana Workshop in Gualaceo Ecuador

View from Macana Workshop Gualaceo Ecuador

Since the climate is so temperate and consistent in Ecuador (at least it used to be), many places don’t have windows or doors like this macana workshop. This is the view from the device being used in the next photo.

That may look like a river running down the valley, but those are actually greenhouses for roses. Ecuador is the world’s 3 largest exporter of cut flowers, and roses make up over 70% of those exports.

Ecuador has the perfect year round climate for growing beautiful flowers, which are very inexpensive here. We nearly always have one or two dozen roses in the house, and they cost only $5 per dozen.

Macana Weaving in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Weaving Gualaceo Ecuador

The men have traditionally been the weavers of macanas because it takes a lot of body weight to get the weave taught. The women do the embroidery and a finishing technique called “nailing,” which requires long fingernails to add the loosely woven decoration to the ends of the macanas.

Macana Yapa in Gualaceo Ecuador

Macana Yapa Gualaceo Ecuador

Amelia was very happy to receive this handwoven bag as a yapa with the purchase of her handwoven macana, shown below. A yapa is a little something extra that merchants give to customers as a sign of appreciation. Think of it like a baker’s dozen. We often get yapas at the mercado in the form of extra fruits and veggies from our favorite vendors.

Amelia’s Macana from Gualaceo Ecuador

Amelia's Macana from Gualaceo Ecuador

It seems like Amelia is either hot or cold these days so she was happy to get this beautiful handwoven macana for the cold times.

The indigenous women use these to keep warm, to protect their skin and heads from the hot mountain sun, to carry their babies and to tote heavy or bulky items, like fresh produce, straw, cardboard boxes, etc. I’ve even seen a woman carrying a 6 foot tall tree on her back wrapped in a macana!

It’s common to see a teenager walking down the sidewalk scrolling Facebook on their mobile phone, while passing an indigenous woman carrying her baby on her back wrapped in a macana. With the blend of modern and ancient visible on every street, Ecuador is a truly remarkable place that seems to exist outside of time.

Share the Love

We hope you enjoyed our trip to Gualaceo, Ecuador today. Please remember to like, comment and share our video, and also subscribe to our YouTube channel. If you’d like us to make a video about something specific or if you have questions, please let us know in the comments.

Spanish Words & Phrases

¿Cómo se llama? – What is your name?
Mucho gusto – Nice to meet you
El gusto es mío – The pleasure is mine
El Jardín Del Azuay – The Garden of Azuay (Province)
el puente – the bridge
pan – bread
me gusta – I like it
el algodón – the cotton
yapa – a little something extra (think baker’s dozen)