I've had good luck connecting with bakers the past few days.
This morning I learned about a small coastal village, Cadeate, from our hostel host, Monica. The town is filled with bakers and their staff (families) who make up about two-thirds of the total residents and supply all the nearby villages and towns with bread!
Franny and I stopped to visit with three bakers and passed another dozen bakeries on our short walk through one end of town.
We spoke with Luis, a baker who specializes in 3-4 breads; his favorite is Pichitos, a small round roll. He bakes with a pizza style rack oven. He retired his brick oven some time ago due to his age and the work involved in cutting, chopping and hauling wood.
After the baking is complete, the bakers pack up their goods in cardboard boxes and baskets and head out on local busses or motorcycles to deliver.
I thought about 50 bakers in a village supplying other villages with bread. Then I think about how our small family bakeries were consolidated out of existence by chain supermarkets in the 50s and 60s.
The impact of this change in our communities has been absorbed, has become insignificant and is now forgotten as our cities have grown and we have aged.
But travel to a country like Ecuador and suddenly I am reliving our past and witnessing and appreciating the benefits of small traditional bakeries in a community; the connections they create and the job fabric they help weave.
Ah, the stories they could tell!