Showing posts from January, 2019

Quinine, Loja, and the tree that saved millions

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…