Mr. Tangerine Man


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There was a time when tangerines in Quito not only came exclusively from the tiny town of Perucho, but from Luis Alfred’s plot of 1,600 tangerine trees. It’s been over fifty years since he first planted them.

Why tangerines? It’s hard to tell if Luis Alfredo Pavón believes in destiny, or in his own tenaciousness. At the time, he was trying to grow avocados but an epidemic looked set to kill them all off. Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, he traded the sickly trees for tangerine seeds and without asking further questions, planted them all.

Choosing the best tangerines is a family matter.

The high Andean plantation grows papaya, coffee and bananas… it actually feels like he’s trying to impress us as to how dynamic the climate of his little tangerine hill really is. The heat is like summer, yet the winds feel like spring. Apparently, you can grow anything here. And his breezy house could be the ideal resting corner of any mortal.

Remembering the good old days, he evokes truckloads of deliveries to Quito. His wife however, painstakingly reminds him of harder times, when Otavalo merchants would not want a single tangerine for their effort and they had to return with full crates back home. It hasn’t been easy, but the Pavón family is making ends meet. Some of that has to do with their daughter’s tangerine wine, a promising find.

Taste sweet artisanal tangerine wine from Luis Alfredo Pavón’s home store.

“One day”, she says, “I’ll build myself a true cellar, with barrels, where I’ll age the wine and maybe create different varieties. For now, we put unsold tangerines to use, and that really makes my parents happy.” The worst thing for Luis Alfred, of course, is to see his tangerines go to waste.

Ask for the familia Pavón in the town of Perucho, at the information center next to the church.

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