Friday, October 28, 2011


Iluman is a village that lies at the base of Imbabura along the Pan Am highway between Otavalo and Quiroga.  We have some new friends there, Alfonso and Maria Rosa, an absolutely delightful couple.  Don't let the Ralph Lauren t shirt fool you.  Alfonso still knows how to weave an alpaca blanket the old fashioned way.

He's not afraid to demonstrate his ancient trade with a blonde haired gringo boy either!

 Rachel will be taking some hand-made merchandise back to the US with her and some of it will be from Alfonso and Rosa.  Alfonso and Rosa weave and market alpaca blend blankets, ponchos and scarves.  All you need to do is spend one night under one of their blankets and you will be sold!  Rachel and I keep them on our love seat for those chilly Andean nights watching movies.  We get so cozy we often miss the closing credits.  I hope the customs agents don't get too picky about her suitcase full of alpaca blankets.

Alfonso met a few of us in Cotacachi with his pickup and played taxi driver to take us up the mountain to Iluman.  It was well worth it for us as buyers and Alfonso had a banner day.  It makes you feel good when you see this young couple succeed at making and selling a quality product at a value price.  Whatever they do, they must have the formula.  They are building a new house! 

While hundreds of artisans compete with each other at the huge market in Otavalo, Alfonso and Rosa open up their house to a focus group of buyers on appointment.  Oh yes, they sell at the market too, but clearly they have discovered a marketing venue that can't be beat.   They treat you like royalty in their home and even try a little English while you fumble around with Spanish.  Then when you are done shopping, they take you to your front door with your bag full of goods.  At the end of the day everyone was delighted.

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