29 Apr Ecuador Visit to Camari
This article was updated on February 7th, 2018 and first published on April 29th, 2013
I just got back to London from a trip to Ecuador where I visited my old friends at Camari. I worked there as volunteer for around 6 months in 2005.
Camari is the commercial wing of FEPP (Fondo Ecuatoriano Populorum Progressio), an organisation that supports the development of rural areas through training, credit and technical assistance.
They retail handicrafts and agricultural products in their stores around Ecuador, and also export to overseas customers like ourselves.
Camari is a member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO).
We’re working on some new products together with their small-scale artisans. Chris has designed some pretty cool new products that are at the first sample stage. The work the artisans have done so far was really impressive. And as a result, some of the products look like they are almost ready to go.
I took the opportunity to source some new products too, and we will be importing some of these shortly.
The trip was a bit of a whirlwind. Basing myself out of Quito, in one week we managed to cover Cuenca in the south of the country, Salinas (Bolivar Province) and Otavalo in the North.
I hadn’t been to Ecuador since 2006 and it had changed a lot, mostly for the better (which may just require a blog post in itself to describe).
Some photos of the visit
Guillermo painting ceramics in his workshop in Cuenca.
Knitting sheep and alpaca wool products in Salinas, Bolivar.
A group of ladies weaving paja toquilla in Chordeleg, Azuay. In this region many of the men have emigrated out of the country. Paja toquilla is a straw artisans use to make placemats, baskets and other products but it is more famously used to make sombreros, which, contrary to the name, originated from Ecuador before being dubbed ‘Panama’ hats after the Panamanian president was spotted wearing one.
At this workshop in Cuenca the workers press and finish the sombreros.
Tagua is the nut from the ‘ivory’ palm tree – named so as the inside of the nut resembles ivory. It’s often used for jewellery as it is strong and can be finely cut, shaped and coloured. We’re brainstorming ideas for household products that we might be able to make with the tagua.