Holiday Gift Guide: All You Need is Ecuador!
Christmas and Hanukkah are around the corner, and you’ve probably been too busy traveling to think about what presents to get your like-minded traveling family and friends. Or maybe you just miss Ecuador so much that you want a perfectly curated list to send to your family as a not-so-subtle holiday gift pointer. Either way, we’ve put together an excellent list of Ecuador-related gift ideas just for you!
#1) – How Forests Think: Toward an Anthropology Beyond the Human by Eduardo Kohn
Can forests think? Do dogs dream? In this astonishing book, Eduardo Kohn challenges the very foundations of anthropology, calling into question our central assumptions about what it means to be human—and thus distinct from all other life forms. Based on four years of fieldwork among the Runa of Ecuador’s Upper Amazon, Eduardo Kohn draws on his rich ethnography to explore how Amazonians interact with the many creatures that inhabit one of the world’s most complex ecosystems.
Did you really love Avatar, that movie with the blue aliens and the tree? Want an even more academic perspective on a real-life version of it? The author, Eduardo Kohn, lived with the Runa people of the Ecuadorian Amazon over the span of 4 years before writing this book about both them and the rainforest that they live in. In an interview with National Geographic, Kohn commented on his use of the phrase “beyond the human”:
“Anthropology is the study of humans [and] ethnography is a kind of deep “hanging out.” In other words, spending huge amounts of time with people and allowing oneself to be immersed in their world. But what I realized hanging out with the Runa people, who live intimately with the rainforest because they don’t buy any food—they hunt, they fish, they grow things—is that doing this kind of ethnographic project does not just mean living with people. It’s also about living with all the other kinds of beings the Runa live with. And that led me to realize that anthropology can never be just anthropology. It must also include that which lies beyond the human, because we’re actually deeply connected to biological life.”
#2) – Pacari Ecuadorian Organic Raw Chocolate
Pacari is literally one of the best chocolates in the world, so it makes a perfect gift for your chocolate aficionado family member. Or maybe it will convince that one friend you have that hates chocolate that they were wrong. Either way, it’s a win. Pacari is made with completely organic ingredients and only uses Arriba Nacional cacao, which means that it only uses cacao that come from areas upriver of the Guayas River in the lowlands of Ecuador.
Not only is Pacari family owned and operated, it is fair-trade, kosher, certified organic, and one of the only chocolate makers that employ “bean-to-bar” techniques, meaning they grow and process the chocolate instead of buying the chocolate from another company. The name Pacari means “nature” in the local Kichwan language, just another token of this chocolate maker’s dedication to stay close to their roots!
Despite the name, Panama hats actually originate from Ecuador. Why is it called a Panama hat? As Brent Black says, “You’ve probably heard the old saying that the three most important factors in retail success are location, location, and location. Now imagine your location is Ecuador in the mid-1800’s.”
Panama hats have a fascinating history in Ecuador, where the locals call them sombreros de paja toquilla. They have been a symbol in men’s fashion for over 200 years, and they won’t be going out of fashion anytime soon.
#4) – Putumayo’s “Music of the Andes” Collection
We’ll admit, not every song in this collection is from Ecuador, but each song is a work of art that comes straight out of the Andean region. After Simon & Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa” sprang into popularity in 1970, Andean music found more audiences outside of South America. This CD contains even more than the usual Quechuan and Aymaran bands, and seamlessly integrates modern interpretations and more traditional versions of historical folk songs. This album will make you want to return to Ecuador and learn sanjuanito dancing. Oh, AND “1% of Putumayo’s sales will be contributed to Whole Planet Foundation in support of their microcredit initiatives in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and around the world!”
#5) – Shupaca’s Alpaca Throw Blankets
Shupaca has a ton of different color schemes and alpaca wool products, from sweaters to scarves to socks, each one impeccably made and exceedingly cozy (is there such a thing as too cozy? I wouldn’t be able to wear one of these sweaters in public because I’d probably just curl up with a cup of steaming tea that would just magically appear in my hands).
Alpaca wool is pretty cool because it’s hypoallergenic and relatively easy to wash, and no chemical processing has to be applied to it to make it softer – I wish my hair was naturally that soft! Shupaca is a fair trade company that is based out of California but employs weavers outside of Quito. Also, look at their Pinterest board of cute alpacas, Alpacas aren’t the ones that spit at you at the petting zoo – that would be llamas, who are notoriously more irate than alpacas.
#6) – Cafe Rio Intag Coffee
Grab some of Ecuador’s best coffee off of Amazon and get it delivered to your doorstep! This brand is both USDA Certified Organic and Fair Trade. The Rio Intag cooperative is made up of 600 families who live in the Intag region northwest of the Cotacachi and 80% of Café Rio Intag’s profits are returned to them.
#7) – A SOLEQ.travel tour
The final – and we think best – holiday gift idea is to buy your friends or family members a trip to Ecuador.
Feature photo by lindsaydeebunny on flickr