Floribusiness Bahía de Caráquez

Bahía de Caráquez

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Bahía de Caráquez, a laid-back seaside resort, a good six-hour drive away from Quito. A true gem of a place, surrounded by mangrove forests and vast sandy beaches, where you could admire the pelicans fly by while you were sipping your coconut water. Far away from the hustle and bustle, this seaside town was considered the most beautiful in the country by many people in Ecuador for a long time.

But this all changed dramatically in the spring of 1998. First, the town was hit by excessive rain and mudslides during the worst El Niño since decades and then, on the 4th of August of the same year, by a strong, 7.1 earthquake. The promenade was washed away, apartment complexes were split into two and lots of buildings collapsed.

The next eighteen years people worked, with heart and soul, to restore the city. It never really got its old charm back, but with the help of prawn farming and the fishing industry, the town did slowly recover.

Last April however, disaster struck again. The epicentre of this year’s earthquake (7.8 on the scale of Richter) was nearby Bahía again. This time, the town was hit even worse; large parts were completely destroyed. Dozens of people were killed.

Last week, I returned to the place for the first time since the earthquake. To experience and see with my own eyes how the town was doing. It turned out to be a sad reality. Six months later, the area is still in ruins.

Buildings that have been declared uninhabitable, smelly sewers and tent camps everywhere, just like the refugee camps we see on TV. Government institutions, like schools and hospitals, seemed to have been damaged the worst.

With the money from FleuraMetz’ fundraiser, which was held earlier this year, we’ve been able to contribute to the building of some new houses. Of course, we had to go and visit those as well.

I can’t describe what it was like to see the happiness of those families. Together, we’ve been able to help these families build a new future. Growers, cargo agents, colleagues and everyone else involved: Thank you so much!

Victor van Dijk
Area manager South America, FleuraMetz