Good Friday, in Ecuador, is remembered in different, distinct ways by the indigenous.
On Good Friday and several other sacred days during the year, the Indigenous believe that their friends and families who have passed away want to come back to this world and visit them. As a result they visit in huge numbers to Cotacachi cemetery.
Indigenous family at Cotacachi cemetery
Simple but well-tended crosses
Easter in Cotacachi has its own distinct flavor; for example it is totally natural for the Indigenous to consider taking food and drink to offer to their deceased and while I was there I noticed a very light energy about the cemetary.
Serious prayers were taking place, but there is a contrast between the sorrow and grief of the elders and the vigour and light-heartedness of the younger generations.
Amongst the community there are certain elders who are recognized as being especially devout. They attend and pray for the recently deceased on behalf of family members. The elders, often lacking materially, do this in return for alms.
Indigenous elder prays
Ice cream also seem to be a traditional food on this day. The ice-cream vendor in the cemetery was doing a roaring trade at 25 cents for an ice-lolly. Ice lollies consumed, food offered and prayers recited .. it’s time to head for Cotacachi’s main square to see the impressive processions.
Indigenous ladies leave cemetery
Indigenous Culture – young vitality
Yet even on the holiest of holy days… business goes on… even at the cemeteries.
Ice cream seller in cemetery
Masapan is one business that grew from cemetery celebrations and creates a way to have micro business that provides charitable benefits as well as income.
There are more explanations about why it is good to remain active are below.
A special art form called Masapan, made from bread dough is made into almost anything and is great as an export.
Masapan evolved from Ecuador cemetery celebrations which include giving to the spirits of their departed loved ones. The celebrants gave food, leaving it at the graves… usually bread and fruit. Since most of these celebratory dates are in the rainy seasons the bread was quickly dissolved and left a mess. Someone created the idea of making the bread so hard it was impervious to the wet. Next someone thought of shaping them like fruit and painting them.
Viola! An art form began.
Here is it is as tiny fruits…made into pins, fridge magnets and such.
Over the years the rat evolved into many different forms but it is good to remember Masapan’s root… a focus on giving.
Looking at the giving of a business is important because the great pleasure of service we can gain makes business better for everyone. Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers-The Story of Success”, explains numerous studies have shown that those who have a fulfilling business are happier and healthier as well as better off financially.
The three keys for a business to be satisfying are:
#3: A direct relationship between effort and reward.
This is why earning in Ecuador or globally offers such satisfaction. This method of earning fits all three requirements.
A reader recently sent this note: Gary, I learned that you have helped many communities in Ecuador. I admire that. At the end of the day, helping people other than oneself is when one really makes a difference. People feel good helping others and seeing communities thrive.
There is a lot of poverty in Ecuador. I am a firm believer that education can alleviate it.
As you know, there is an impoverished province in Ecuador, Esmeraldas, from which many of the soccer national teams players come. A handful of them have even made it to intl’ teams. Unfortunately not everybody can be a soccer star so to get out of poverty everybody else needs to get an education. The problem is that many kids barely finish high school and have no way to go to college. Attending college in the big cities of Quito or Guayaquil is usually an elusive dream.
Moved by the situation, an old Italian priest put together a program sponsored by some of his Italian friends to bring youngsters from Esmeraldas to Quito and help them get through college and obtain a degree and a job. A beautiful initiative that has produced a few graduates that now are helping their families. The challenge is that his old friends are passing away and the new generations are not carrying on the funding. I have personally being helping with my own money to keep the project running but there is just so much a person alone can do. I think there are many other people that would be delighted to help such an effective program grow to new levels. We are teaching these kids how to fish, not giving them the fish in a Venezuelan wellfare fashion.
What would be a good way to give some of your 30000 readers the opportunity to help this project and feel good about it? You are a wise man that went through a lot of trials and tribulations and hence will sympathize with this cause. Please advise me on how to grow this initiative and do more good for the Ecuadorean youth.
Here is my reply: Jean, congratulations on your good work.
Because there are so many charitable causes looking for funding, we do not ask our readers for donations even for our projects. We are asked regularly to give and how would it be possible to say no to one and yes to another?
Instead we donate all the profit… plus quite a bit more of our other Ecuador profits from our flower sales and hotel instead. Our total donations are nearing a million dollars now… more than we have earned in Ecuador so this makes us feel really good.
I recommend that you create a micro export business… some product from Ecuador that you can sell and donate the proceeds. Regards, Gary
Helping the poor is a global social economic concern we all need to be involved with. There is a growing trend of people wanting to see the whole picture and do more than just earn.
For example, when people previously went for a cup of coffee they wanted the best coffee, served in the least expensive, fastest, most convenient way. Now more and more buyers want more. They want to know where the coffee was grown, what type of coffee… what did the growing process do to the environment… how were the processors and growers of the coffee treated?
They ask what will the coffee do to the body and environment? Was the cup organic? Is the cup recycled and so forth?
Starbucks is a good example. They launched an aggressive plan to ensure that its coffee came from environmentally friendly farms paying workers a fair wage.
They were setting up strict rules on everything from forestation to pesticides to labor practices.
Starbucks made this move because they have suffered bad publicity from coffee drinkers who wanted more than just a cup of coffee.
*See a bigger picture.
*Consume and invest in values not just material value.
*Are highly sensitive to being mislead.
*Are willing to pay a bit more for a whole product.
*Are getting organized.
So if you have discovered that due to, what seems like misfortune, you have to work more… be happy. You may live longer, healthier and happier.
Back to Masapan.
Here is how to turn bread into dough… the cash kind by making fund raising products out of dough.
Roberto Ribadeneira’s export service helps delegates visit the village of Calderon and look at masapan. Masapan is made from bread dough that is glazed and baked rock hard. Delegates see all types of goods being made. Masapan offers excellent Ecuador exports opportunity because it can be shaped into almost any form ranging from beautiful flowers to toys, nativity sets and much, much more.
Masapan products are excellent Ecuador exports because they are light and compact for low cost shipping, the product is inexpensive but with a little value added can be marked up enormously.
As Ecuador exports they have be made into pins, refrigerator magnets, necklaces, earrings and ornaments. Exports delegates get to see how these Ecuador exports can be merchandised in many ways.
One delegate who owned a number of Hampton Inns in the USA had masapan flowers and llamas created to use at his hotel as a turn down treat. So many guests asked for them that he created a small leaflet and began selling them. Later he began wholesaling to other hoteliers.
The last time I talked to this exporter he was having pins made in the form of his University Alma Mater mascot to sell at college ball games and such.
samples of masapan.
There is also a masapan factory near Cotacachi (Quiroga) and near the colonial Inn Land of the Sun.