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Showing posts from January, 2019

Quinine, Loja, and the tree that saved millions

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Loja is one of Ecuador’s hidden treasures off the beaten path of most South American tourism promoters.  For travelers looking for unique and authentic travel experiences this is a definite plus.  The region remains unsullied by heavy-handed tourism and vacation developers.  Loja, one of the largest cities in Ecuador’s southern Andes, holds many surprises.  Probably one of the biggest surprises, and vastly under-reported like other issues covered in this blog (see our coffee and chocolate blogs), is that this is the birthplace of the first cure for malaria: quinine.

This staggering fact, so long buried, is almost hard to believe.  However, it is true and also foundational to the development of the area.  Loja’s quinine history is also a cautionary tale of how opportunity can slip away because of forward-thinking innovation elsewhere, along with more nefarious means, such as corporate crime.

All great discoveries accrue myths about their origins, given enough time, and quinine is no e…