Excerpts from 940-word article. Pictures available

ECUADOR'S HANDICRAFTS CONSIDERED SOUTH AMERICA'S FINEST

An inveterate salesgirl, she balances herself in the aisle of the lurching bus. Stopping in front of me she raises her hand with five fingers spread to indicate the price, and says demurely "coral". The last thing I need is a coral necklace, another scarf, a woven hat band. But I purchase all three because I can't resist the liquid brown eyes and mega-watt smile lighting that grubby little face. I am seldom a sucker for sales people, but Cecilia is something else. She is all of three years old.....

Her less flirtatious brother is six, and their sister who is in charge of this enterprise is eight. The trio rides with us from Otavalo's craft market to a hacienda outside of town where we are served lunch. There, they spread their wares on the grass and wait under the gaze of curious llamas for us to leave the restaurant. In the interim, the younger two revert to being children and play in a tree until potential customers come their way....

Ecuador's Otavalenos are superb crafts people, and equally skilled at marketing their creations. They work as families, which means Cecilia would have been selling small items alongside her mother soon after she learned to walk. Some Otavalenos travel to Europe and North America to sell their goods. That's how much in demand they are....