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Today is Valentine's Day, a day set aside for expressions of love and affection. The traditional western holiday has spread to many countries around the globe, despite some efforts by religious and cultural groups to fight its adoption. Valentine's Day spending in the U.S. this year is expected to reach nearly $15 billion -- $2 billion of it on flowers alone. Ninety percent of the flowers Americans will give to their sweethearts are imported, and nearly all of those imports originate in Colombia and Ecuador. Included in today's posting is an 18-photo series depicting the voyage of the roses from South American farm to florists worldwide. [37 photos]

A couple kisses during a flashmob organized by a local television station on the eve of Valentine's Day in the Russian city of Stavropol, on February 13, 2012. (Reuters/Eduard Korniyenko)

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Ecuador-based photojournalists Ivan Kashinsky and Karla Gachet visited The Wall Street Journal last week to show their work–including a new app they developed for the iPad called “Short Stories: From Ecuador to Tierra Del Fuego”—the result of visiting five South American countries in seven months in their trusty jeep, Sancho, named for Don Quixote’s Sancho Panza.

Mr. Kashinsky and Ms. Gachet met at the newspaper at San Jose State University in California, eventually married and headed for the equator. Ms. Gachet became the first woman photographer at El Comercio, a major newspaper in Ecuador, and both have received multiple awards for their work. To see more images, visit their new website, Runa Photos.


Herding vicunas in the Peruvian Andes, near the pueblo of Cotobambas, on July 25, 2009


Boys jump into the ocean in the isolated fishing pueblo of Limones in the province of Esmeraldas, on August 17, 2008. Limones can only be reached by boat and lies on the border of Ecuador and Colombia.


A bullfighter performs during the Yawar Fiesta in the Peruvian Andes in Coyllurqui, on July 29, 2009. Every year, during Peru’s Independence Day, the Blood Fest is celebrated in the highland communities of Apurimac.


Miners chew coca leaves, which give them energy to work, deep in the mines of Oruro, Bolivia, February 2009.


Lago Roca in Tierra del Fuego National Park, Argentina, April, 2009.

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