proper procedure and certify environmentally friendly farms with a green seal. In turn, those farms will receive free advertising in Germany and a stamp so consumers can choose to support \afe environmental practices and social policies. A major beneficiary of this program will be the women who make up 60% to 70% of flower industry employees.

The US lags far behind in any kind of certification program for several reasons according to Hamiro Penaherra, president of flower company Latinflor. One is that half of all flowers are sold in upermarkets, which can demand the lowest industry prices to sell in quantity. Farms that invest I • n expensive environmental safeguards are forced to sell low, can't turn a profit and eventually I •old. Some growers are uniting and working toward a (yet to be governmentally approved) JS-based green label called Veriflora. The next challenge will be to make US consumers savvy «bout choosing their valentine bouquets. For now, Americans don't shop for greener flowers, | they shop for the reddest rose.


founded in 1580. Seven kilometers south of Cayambe, it's a great base for the hot springs, hiking or horseback riding. Whitewashed rooms are adorned with Andean textiles and blankets. There is a spring-fed enclosed pool, restaurant and bar.

A bus leaves for Oyacachi from near the Cayambe plaza at 8am on Saturday and Sunday and it returns around 3pm. Oyacachi has no phone service.


At 5790m the extinct Volcán Cayambe is Ecuador's third-highest peak and the highest point in the world through which the equator directly passes - at about 4600m on the south side. There is a climbing refuge (per person $17), but you need a 4 WD to reach it. The climb is more difficult than the more frequently ascended peak of Cotopaxi. To get vertical, contact Safari Tours (g 255 2505; [email protected]; Foch E5-39) or Oswaldo Freire (@ 254 8206; [email protected]); both offer reputable guiding and four-day glacier schools, so you can learn to swing that ice axe just right. Guide services average $70 per day.

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