Ecuador 2011

Monday, June 27, 2011, about 1630 CDT, Quito, Ecuador

We've been to Ecuador for two summers running, this trip makes three. The first trip was for Sandy to attend an archaeological field school in the Pambamarca region of Ecuador. Sandy was accepted to a Master's program at UC Fullerton on the basis of this trip. The second trip was in pursuit of obsidian samples that were stored in the field school archives. Sandy did a chemical composition study of those samples, and others collected from other sites, to determine the chemical markers that can be used to determine where that particular sample came from. This year, we will be collecting and analyzing geological samples of obsidian taken from known volcanic flows in the region.

I stay for two weeks to help with the collection as we are arriving a week before the field school starts. Sandy stays for a total of five weeks to do the analysis with a portable XRF machine that another researcher is bringing.

We left home at about 2230 last night and got to the airport and through security (a PITA) in good order for a 0135 flight on LACSA (TACA) which left a little late. In about 5 nearly sleepless hours, we got to San Salvador, El Salvador. Another hour flight on the same airplane brought us to San Jose, Costa Rica, We got in a little late, but the other airplane did too so we had plenty of time to make the connection. The last flight took almost 2 hours. We got through the airport without serious difficulty, caught a cab and arrived at the Hostel Alcala in the Mariscal district. We are in the same room as we were last year.

After reviewing last year's arrival, this year is almost a complete playback. We got here at about the same time, stayed in the same room in the same hostel, and got the same dinner. Sandy had a beer on an empty stomach and I expect that she will crash shortly.

Monday, June 28, 2011, about 1100 CDT, Quito, Ecuador

110628_ecuador_quito_hostal_alcala_sandy_9669.jpgWe did crash, both of us, and we slept until about 0800. Sandy had developed an altitude sickness headache but that subsided later. Quito's altitude is about 10,000 ft and the air is thin. Acclimation to the altitude for a day or so is expected here.

We got breakfast in the Hostel, included in the room rate, and worked out our plan for a lightweight day. We will take a walk to find some water as it is not recommended to drink the tap water, get some lunch food and a local SIM card for Sandy's cell phone.

110628_ecuador_quito_hostal_alcala_9670.jpg Going out in Quito is somewhat of an exercise. Quito is not crime free, there is lots of petty crime. The hostel is fairly secure but there is not point of inviting theft. All our bags are locked and secured with a lock cable. Easy to cut bags are wrapped in a steel wire cage and secured to the rest of the bags and to the table. A casual grab and run thief will pass. A dedicated thief with wire cutters and a knife will succeed.

110628_ecuador_quito_hostal_alcala_9671.jpgThere is a little patio just outside our room, a pretty nice place to sit. The place has free WiFi that had the same password as last year. However, when we get into the country, our internet access will be spotty. The Hacienda has WiFi that we can use during the time that I am there. However, when I return home, Sandy will move to somewhere else, probably in at the Casa Communia with the rest of the students. Internet access there is likely non-existant. There are internet shops in Cayambe but it takes a bus ride to get there.

We took our walk to the SuperMaxi supermarket which is fully equivalent to any big supermarket in the US. It is dozen or so small blocks away, a 10 minute walk. We didn't see a Porta phone shop on that walk so after we got back, we walked a single block in the other direction and found one. Sandy's phone is set up for Ecuador.

The plan for tomorrow has changed due to the lack of availability of a local guide so we are going to rent a car and drive to Cuenca tomorrow to act like tourists. We'll stay in that area until Saturday until we return to Quito to meet the field school on Sunday morning. We'll be back at Hostel Alcala Saturday evening.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011, about 1700 CDT, Riobamba, Ecuador

110629_ecuador_on_the_panam_sandy_and_rental_car_9672.jpgWe got our rental car and left Quito about 1000. After a couple of side trips due to funny signage, we finally got onto the PanAmerican Highway south out of Quito. It is called route 35 on the maps but there are hardly any signs that show that designation. All the signs were to place names. I missed a couple of turns. We were using the GPS and maps app on Sandy's iPad to navigate but some of the roads we got on weren't even on the Google maps so we were navigating across country while trying to get back to route 35.

We stopped for lunch (sandwiches made from materials purchased at the SuperMaxi yesterday) by the roadside and I noticed that the right front tire was low. We drove it to a gas station a couple of miles down the road and tried to fill it but the compressor was off. The guy had to turn it on for us. It was off because it leaked badly but we got air in the tire and it seemed to be holding for the rest of the day, which was a long one.

By the time we got halfway to Cuenca, it was already past 1600 so we decided that it was just too far and elected to stay in Riobamba for the night.

We had not seen an open hostel or hotel that looked acceptable and we were mostly out of town when we came across this "motel." It was set up a little oddly and it got more and more interesting as we got into our room. The first clue was that the room rate was $6/2 hours or $12/night. They took cash only and we didn't even check in.

110629_ecuador_riobamba_motel_pariso_garage_9674.jpgAll the rooms are behind heavy steel garage doors with automatic openers. We have to call the office for them to open the door. At least the car is reasonably secure.

The next clue was the round bed with mirrors all around it.

110629_ecuador_riobamba_motel_pariso_sandy_9676.jpgSandy is sitting in one end of the fairly large room below a mirror.

110629_ecuador_riobamba_motel_pariso_george_and_sandy_in_the_mirror_over_the_bed_9680.jpgThere were mirrors OVER the bed and to both sides. The TV had a few channels, all porn. It became pretty clear that this wasn't an ordinary motel room.

110629_ecuador_riobamba_motel_pariso_secret_passage_9681.jpgThere was a door in the back corner of the room that lead to a passage behind the whole row of rooms. I guess that this passage is used by room service so that they don't have to mess with the garage doors and the steps up to the rooms from the garage.

Anyway, we are here for the night and will probably head back north in the morning to scout some of the sites that Sandy wants to check out as obsidian sources.

Thursday, June 30, 2011, about 1630 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

We left the "motel" in Riobamba about 0800 and headed back north, pretty much the same way we came down except this time we drove right through the town of Ambato instead of around it. We also avoided Quito altogether taking the PanAmerican highway east of Quito and then some smaller highways to get to some spots that Sandy wanted to scope out for a revisit during the field school. We'll be back in that area tomorrow to scope out some other sites. The roads were not very well marked and we got diverted by bad signage or road work and had to backtrack a few times. However, the GPS on Sandy's iPad saved the day even if all the roads were not on the map. At least we knew where we were with respect to the roads that were on the maps.

110630_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_llamas_9683.jpgAfter that, we drove another 50 km or so to the Hacienda Guachala where we had stayed during the 2009 Pambamarca field school and the next year when we came back to rummage through the project archives for obsidian samples.

The llamas were in the view out of our windows on the first floor. The pasture outside was the site of a motocross race last year and much of it was completely torn up by teh motorcycles. However, it has apparently completely recovered in just one year.

110630_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_our_room_9685.jpgBoth large windows are our room. This place is quite and safe, we have no worries here. We're on our own dime for two nights. Then we return to Quito on Saturday to return the rental car and meet up with the rest of the project on Sunday morning.

110630_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_room_u_9687.jpgThe room has two double beds, lots of space, a fireplace and a private bathroom. We had never been in this part of the Hacienda before. It is done up pretty much the same as the other rooms that we've been in except there are many more windows.

Friday, July 1, 2011, about 0900 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

We had dinner in the dining room last night, it was good. It got a little cold too so after dinner, I started a fire that really roared. It did a fair job of heating this room but the eucalyptus firewood provided burns pretty quickly so a large basket of wood only lasted for a couple of hours. We had plenty of blankets so we weren't cold after the fire burned out.

Sandy has a cold that has been slowing here down for a few days, so our plan for today is being relaxed so that she can recover. We opened both sets of curtains so that she could watch both channels of widescreen "llama TV" while resting in bed. There are 11 llamas, 5 horses and 3 geese that come and go during the day. Not all the actors are on TV at any given time.

The internet is not working at the Hacienda for WiFi connected computers so we may go into Cayambe today to find an internet shop. We may also go to Cangahua today to see if we can locate one of the other staff members who is supposed to be there. The number that we have for her cell phone is not working.

The day has started sunny and warm, at least when standing in the sun. The air is cool and the perceived temperature is highly variable as is usual for this area. It pays to dress in layers as one usually has to change the number of layers about 20 times a day.

Somebody has been busy in the church. Some of the project stuff is there. There is a pile of buckets, clipboards and other supplies but no hand tools, computers or analytical gear. I assume that the crates of previous year samples will stay in the storeroom as there is no need for them this year.

Friday, July 1, 2011, about 2000 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

110701_Ecuador_road_trip_dancing_locals_0792.JPEGIt was an interesting morning. We drove up to Cangahua to look for Amber but she wasn't there. However, we did come across some of the locals walking down the road and dancing. The adult and a boy were dressed in festival costume and playing guitars. Sandy took some video of them.

110701_ecuador_road_trip_george_and_broken_car_0797.jpgAs we drove further down the hill, I noticed that the car was squeaking more loudly that usual. We headed north toward the PanAmerican Highway to go to Cayambe but a little ways further I noticed the sound of something clanking under the car. By the time I got to the PanAm, it was obvious that something was really wrong and I turned around to go 2 km or so back to the Hacienda. We didn't make it. A rear wheel bearing began grinding itself into schrapnel and about 200 meters short of the Hacienda, it froze up tight. We slid to a stop with one wheel jammed and there we sat.

We called the rental car company in Quito on Sandy's cell phone and they said they'd be there in half an hour. They had no idea that it actually takes an hour or more to get here and there was some serious construction going on. Two hours later, a flatbed tow and the owner of the rental agency showed up. Apparently, they had fixed that wheel bearing just last week, but somebody probably didn't do a good job and the new bearing failed.

Besides some more scouting around, we didn't really need the car again except to drive back to Quito to return it. All we'd do is stay overnight in Quito and then get on the project bus Sunday morning to come back to the Hacienda anyway. We just returned the car in place. I'll finish the paperwork when I return to the airport in a little over a week. The owner gave us a ride to the Hacienda and we are without car.

110701_ecuador_road_trip_cayambe_bus_0795.jpgWe still wanted to go to Cayambe so we got on a bus similar to this one. This bus runs the Cayambe to Quito line. A slightly smaller, but similar set of busses runs the Cangahua to Cayambe line. They run by the Hacienda every 15 min or so. The fare is $0.25/head each way.

110701_ecuador_cayambe_pharmacy_9689.jpgOur target was this pharmacy a couple of blocks away from the bus terminal. This pharmacy didn't have what we were looking for so we wandered off to find another. A couple of blocks away, we were successful.

110701_ecuador_cayambe_gran_aki_9690.jpgAfter leaving the second pharmacy, we walked a couple of blocks back to the Gran Aki, a supermarket. The Gran Aki, and the Santa Maria market nearby are not quite as large as the SuperMaxi chain but they are large enough. Sandy got a one cup coffee maker to make hot water for tea and peach tea bags. I got some more juices. We stopped at a bakery across the street and got some rolls. We then got back on the bus for the ride back to the Hacienda. It is possible to do a similar round trip in less than an hour.

Sam was here this evening negotiating with the Hacienda for services. Sandy and I will have a room here as long as I am here and when I leave, another woman will move in with her. The students will be staying at the Casa Communa in Cangahua except that each student will be rotated down to the Hacienda for a night.

We managed to log onto the internet on their linux computers to check and send email via our webmail servers. However, the hacienda no longer offers WiFi access so that to upload this page, I have to take the bus to Cayambe and find an internet shop that allows WiFi. The one shop that we used last year did not allow WiFi but I saw two more from the bus today.

We had dinner at the Hacienda again this evening. We both had steaks. They actually cooked the things rare like we asked. It would hard to find a similar meal in the US for $7.50.

110701_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_fire_09691.jpgAfter dinner, I started another fire. They didn't leave as much wood as last night so the fire burned down to the coals in about 30 min. I've developed a method to get a reliable fire going with the wet wood that we get. Tomorrow, I'll show Sandy how to do it. The hacienda leaves a basket of wood and a bunch of leaves and stems. This isn't enough as the leaves burn too quickly to dry out enough wood so that it will burn. I go outside and scout collect sticks which are all over the place. These are dry enough and have enough substance so that they ignite quickly and still burn long enough to dry out the smaller of the wood pieces provided. Once those start to burn, the larger stuff can be added to dry and burn.

It is pretty quiet here at night so that after the fire is done, there is not a lot else to do except read, play games on the computer or iDevice or hit the sack. There is a real TV in the library but all the channels are in Spanish. There are no TVs nor telephones in the rooms. The only internet access is in the library via the two computers that are there. There is also a regulation sized pool table in the library along with some overstuffed couches arranged next to a large fireplace.

The students had a way of getting drunk and partying until all hours. However, then they look pretty sad at 0600 the next morning. I'm expecting that the new crop of students coming in Sunday will probably act pretty much the same as the batch from two years ago.

Saturday, July 2, 2011, about 1800 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

This morning, I took the bus into Cayambe to scout for internet shops that have WiFi. I found 5, all closed. I also found a lavadoria (laundry) but it was closed too. I also found a dentist, also closed. I'll try again on Monday when the shops will be open. Since it is a festival day in Cayambe, this is probably why all these businesses that should be open are closed. I returned on the bus.

Then Sandy and I met Eric, Amber, and two new staff, Anita and Kaitlyn and got ourselves somewhat organized to set up the lab.

110702_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_church_09692.jpgThe lab used to be in another room at the Hacienda, but that area got converted to a Montessori school so we needed a new place. Last year, Sam had picked the desanctified church which had been a museum. Sam has apparently also booked the whole row of 10 rooms that used to be the stables next to the church. The first two rooms will be used for additional lockable lab space and bathrooms for the students while they are here. I assume that Sandy and I will be moved into one of the other 8 rooms.

110702_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_amber_and_eric_in_the_lab_09693.jpgEric and Amber are at one end of a row of tables that is sort of the lab office. The rest of the row is mostly empty now. During the day, Amber, Eric, Anita, and Kaitlyn moved selected crates of artifacts from the store room to the lab. A crate of electrical stuff was also located.

110702_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_lab_09694.jpgThe only electrical power in the room is deep into the dark corner at the left center. There was a 20' heavy duty extension cable in the box but it was damaged. I sort of patched it back together, but overall, it isn't safe until I patch it some more with some duct take to keep one of the receptacles together. I hooked some outlet strips at the end of it and it all worked, but the strips reach only halfway down the tables. A group of us went to Cayambe this afternoon to scare up some longer heavy duty cables and other stuff. There were no long heavy extension cords to be found but we did buy some 12 ga wire and two new receptacles so that I could make a proper 15 meter cable. This will reach to past the center by itself with some stress relief. By using both cables, we can get power all along the tables without having to daisy chain too many outlet strips.

Sunday, July 3, 2011, about 1000 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_pigs_eating_09696.jpgAt the back corner of the pasture ourside our room is a pig sty. I had a couple of banana peels from breakfast this morning so I went out to feed them to the pigs. They were accepted immediately and the two pigs fought over them. Then Manuel, the hacienda handyman, came out with a bucket of kitchen scraps made into pig slop. It was a soup of bread scraps, fruit peels, egg shells, some local tree tomatoes and other stuff. That was accepted too. Manuel says that the pigs get slopped once or twice a day depending how much kitchen waste is available. There were more pigs here last time. Eventually, the pigs will be sold for meat.

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_questionable_wiring_09699.jpgElectrical codes in Ecuador are apparently pretty loose. This is new wiring in the main part of the Hacienda around the plaza. They simply spliced the lamps into the distribution wiring with Euro strips.

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_room_lamp_wiring_09701.jpgSome of the older lamps are spliced and insulated with friction tape such as the lamp above our bed.

Last year I investigated (about 1/3 the way down the page) the electrical wiring in the church. It was pretty scary. Nothing has been done to improve the situation this year. It seems that if a circuit doesn't spit fire, it meets code.

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_plaza_09700.jpgIt is really quiet at the hacienda now. I checked my email and Sandy was doing needlework next to the plaza. The weather this morning is really nice. It is cool, a little windy but very clear. This will likely change soon.

The first of the field school students are probably loading on a bus in Quito about now to head out here. They'll be at the Casa Comuna about lunch time. The rest will be arriving all day until about 2300 tonight. They'll get here at 0-dark-30. They will be roused at 0700 or so to start their first day, the customary hike up QuitoLoma.

Sunday, July 3, 2011, about 1700 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_room_6_outside09707.jpgThe project officially started today. We could have got breakfast in the dining room, but we didn't know that and we had stuff in the room that we had to eat anyway. However, we have to change rooms. The project bought a block of 10 rooms and we had to move into one of them. We picked room 6, which has the same layout as the room we were in two years ago. We packed up our stuff and moved from one end of the hacienda to the other.

110703_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_sandy_in_room_6_09706.jpgThis is the room, it is smaller than the other one but the project is "paying" for it. We actually paid the project already to be here so that Sandy could do her research. There won't be as many project people here as there were two years ago, most of them are at the Casa Comuna in Cangahua.

Monday, July 4, 2011, about 2030 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Today was the first full day of the field school and it was an interesting one. Sandy really wanted to get to the Mullumica obsidian source so she was really pushing to get it to happen today. Oscar, who has been there, said that it was an easy 40 minute walk from the end of a dirt road. However, Oscar couldn't come to be a guide. However, one of the Ecuadorian students. Stephano, was studying obsidian and he had also been there. We twisted his arm to be our guide as he also wanted some samples from the source so we didn't have to twist really hard. Jen, a geologist was also came along with us and Eric.

Eric arranged to rent a pickup truck and driver in Cangahua. We paid extra for the driver because he could take care of his truck and if anything broke, there would be no argument about what happened. We were ready to leave at 0800 but Sam and Chad (the project directors) wanted all of us to attend a project health and safety briefing at 0800 and then a staff meeting just after that. We didn't get on the road until nearly 1000.

110704_ecuador_mullumica_trip_sandy_09711.jpgIt was nearly an hour's drive to get to the town of Pifo. We stopped in Pifo to see the land owner and get his permission to be there. Then we drove to the nearby dirt road. This is the road that Sandy had already identified as the correct road. We then another long time to get to the end where there was a farmhouse.

This is a view looking back west down the valley toward Quito. Sandy is chugging up the hill from the farm. It was steep but fairly easy going at this point. The air was thin here as we were at about 12,000 ft.

110704_ecuador_mullumica_trip_stream_ford_09718.jpgOur first real challenge, besides the thin air, was this very active stream. I made it across by hopping from rock to rock but each of the others slipped off and had to crawl from rock to rock and walk on the stream bed. Everybody but I now had wet feet and the water was cold. It turned out later that this provided little advantage for me.

110704_ecuador_mullumica_trip_sandy_in_paramo_grass_09713.jpgThen we hit the Paramo grass. These are large tufts of grass, growing tightly together that make the going difficult. Further, area between the tufts was mostly muddy bog. My boots got soaked anyway. Besides it was raining lightly. This caused other problems on the way down. There was about a mile of this stuff and by the time I got to the first source of low quality obsidian, it had taken me two hours to get there. Some 40 minute easy walk.

110704_ecuador_mullumica_trip_first_low_quality_source_09714.jpgThis is the spot that I, Sandy and Jen stopped. We were too tired to go on. The Mullimica source is about 8 km from end to end and we had just reached one end.

110704_ecuador_mullumica_trip_looking_up_the_valley_09717.jpgEric and Stephano went on "about 500 meters" to the next outcrop. Eric estimates that it was closer to 1500 meters. Since Eric and Stephano had reached the first site about 45 minutes before we did, we knew it if we were to reach the truck at any reasonable time, we'd have to return before Eric and Stephano returned. We headed back and it took another 2 hours to get back. By that time, Eric and Stephano had caught up to use just before the stream ford. They had found some higher quality obsidian at the 2nd source.

However, during our trip back, the Paramo grass had become quite wet due to the rain and our boots and pants were fully soaked. We had the same problems at the stream bed but this time I slipped off a rock and I was a foot deep in really cold water. It didn't matter that much because I was already soaked and muddy due to walking through the bog. All the stream did was wash much of the mud off my boots and pants.

After getting back into the truck, we drove down that same bad dirt road. About halfway down, the truck started making some serious howling noises from the left front wheel. The driver backed it up to disengage the front hubs and the noise stopped. Apparently his 4WD had blown up. However, in 2WD, the truck made it all the way back.

We were all tired, wet and cold. Sandy and I changed into dry clothes and got dinner in the Hacienda. I started a fire in our fireplace in an attempt to dry our boots and clothes and Sandy simply crashed. I'll be following her in a couple of minutes.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011, about 2030 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Today has been a quiet day so far. We got up at 0630 for breakfast at 0700 and then wandered back to our room. Sandy promptly went back to sleep. The students are hiking up QuitoLoma today. Only Eric, Sandy, Stephano and I were at the Hacienda today although Scotty and Vanessa showed up later. We are trying to get the lab set up. Eric was working on getting the computers and printers working. At least one Vista laptop was running, but none of the four printers would work. All were out of ink.

I started taking photos of examples of things that I needed to buy in Cayambe because I didn't know their Spanish names. I could show a storekeeper a photo of a similar item and then he would know what I was looking for.

About 1000, I grabbed our dirty laundry and headed into town on the bus. The first stop was the Lavadora, a laundry. It would take 5 hours, this was expected. Then I started hitting up hardware stores for a cable end female 110 VAC receptacle (found it at the first place, $0.70), 3 black printer cartridges for 3 different printers (found them at one place for $73 total) a flashlight (Gran Aki) and some outlet strips (also Gran Aki). I also got some Coke Zero for Sandy and some juice for me. I got back on the bus and returned to the Hacienda only to find that the flashlight didn't work and the outlet strips were flakey. I had to return them during the afternoon trip back in to town for our laundry. Eric also picked up a lot of plastic sheet to cover the artifact crates in the lab for protection from the holes in the roof along with other materials.

Of the three AIO printer/scanners, one does both, one prints only and one scans only. However, this will be good enough.

I used the receptacle that I purchased this morning to replace an improperly installed one on the unsafe extension card.

Sandy and Eric are going through old records from previous years trying to organize them. This process could take a while.

It's been raining on and off all day but the rain is light. There was no rain in Cayambe until late in the afternoon.

I finally got the flashlight to work so that Segundo, the night watchman that the project hired, can do his job properly. The doors on the church are pretty much rotted and are not really lockable. It turned out to be less expensive to hire this guy for a month than to replace the doors and frames and install legitimate locks. It is nice to know that there is somebody watching over the area all night although this place has been no trouble for us in the three years we have been coming here.

110705_ecuador_hacienda_guachala_boots_drying_9719.jpgYesterday, our boots were soaked on the hike to Mullumica. We had them drying in front of the fire last night and they were steaming. However, by the time that the fire died, they were still not dry. They were still damp this evening so they went before the fire again to get baked out again. This time, I think that they will be dry enough to wear again.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011, about 1500 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

110706_ecuador_hacenda_guachala_sandy_and_gpr_09721.jpgThis is the first dig day for about half of the students. The other half are in the anthropology portion of the program, they'll switch in two weeks. Sandy is helping Matt check out the Ground Penetrating Radar unit on the Hacienda grounds.

110706_ecuador_pitana_historical_ceramic_samples_09722.jpgThen we loaded up two trucks of students and went to a site called Pitana which is actually very close by. The site has had little formal excavation, there was one area excavated in 2008. However, the ground is simply littered with ceramic and obsidian artifacts. Sam thought that most of the artifacts dated from around 600-900 AD but these samples are glazed, a process that wasn't available to the inhabitants until historic times (later than 1550 or so). Somebody has been there more recently than the rest of the artifacts indicate.

110706_ecuador_pitana_translucent_obsidian_09723.jpgThere are obsidian samples littering the ground. This one is mostly translucent with darker layers. There was lots of material like this just sitting on the surface.

110706_ecuador_pitana_obsidian_scraper_09724.jpgThis obsidian tool was probably a scraper as it is the right shape and shows signs of wear. There were no high quality tools found at this site yet. It is assumed that there was so much obsidian there that the locals didn't go to a lot of trouble to make good tools. They just used what they had and when it wore out, they grabbed another useful piece and moved on.

Earlier I drove Scotty and three students out to Loma Sandoval to start work and left them. After the Pitana trip, I drove another batch of 12 of them to Loma Sandoval as well. Chad drove the other truck with another batch of 11 students. Then Chad and I switched trucks and I gassed up the 2nd truck in Cayambe and delivered a student that wasn't feeling well back to the Casa. Then I met Sam at the Hacienda and he took the 2nd truck. Unless I hear differently, I guess that Sam and Chad will pick up the Loma Sandoval group this afternoon.

Thursday, July 7, 2011, about 1200 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

All the students got retrieved in good order last night. We had the largest turnout yet for dinner at the Hacienda, 14 people. Then Sandy and I started a fire and after a couple of hours, we crashed.

Sandy concluded that her cold wasn't getting better by itself so she wanted to see a doctor. I have a head cold too, but it isn't too bad. I can still function. Sam gave us a lift into town this morning and we went into a clinic. The doctor concluded that she just needed for her sinuses to dry out but we got medication anyway. The doctor visit cost us $4. The meds cost less than $7.

We stopped at the Gran Aki for some small project stuff, more Kleenex and a jug of peach juice. Sandy is supposed to stay warm and inside for two days. I'm going to stay out of the weather as well. Last night and today it is really windy and somewhat cold. The wind is howling outside our room now.

By looking at my plane tickets, I determined that I leave at about 0200 on Monday, not 1400 like we thought. This has some implications on dealing with the rental car paperwork as I won't be in Quito when the rent a car office is open. I am trying to deal with that over the phone.

I also discovered how to connect a computer to the Hacienda ethernet via a cable that I located in the project stash of hardware. There is still no WiFi but we can actually use our own computers. If you are reading this, it is because I can now use FTP. The bandwidth of the Hacienda's internet is too low to allow the upload of two movie files linked above so those links are broken right now. I'll upload the rest of the stuf when I get home next week.

Friday, July 8, 2011, about 0730 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Strong winds came up the day before yesterday and my sinuses immediately reacted. Apparently, the dust is driving me nuts with congestion, sneezing and drip. There are no other symptoms so I'll just wait it out.

Today is Sandy's second day of doctor ordered rest. She is feeling much better. So today will be a kick back day for both of us except for a possible morning trip to Cayambe to find a dentist to get some minor filling repair work done.

The meals at the Hacienda have settled into a pattern. Breakfast is cut fruit, granola and yogurt. Then toasted bread, some kind of fresh juice and eggs. Dinner is typically a soup, an entre with vegetables and rice or potatoes, and then a dessert. Lunch is a bit of a problem as the project provided materials, but they are at the Casa. We either have to go up there or somebody from the Casa brings some stuff down. The food is good and I am getting plenty to eat.

The wind is still blowing cold and hard. It will be miserable at the sites. Loma Sandoval is quite exposed and there is little protection from the wind. It just rips through there picking up dirt and dust from the excavation work and sandblasting everything. Two years ago when this happened, it was better to be in a deep unit protected from the blast.

Friday, July 8, 2011, about 1700 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Our plans for today didn't work out so well. We found the name and address of a good dentist to fix a minor broken filling. We got there around 1000 and he was closed. A lady there said he would be open at 1430. We were also looking for a carafe for a coffee maker, but couldn't find one that would fit. We went back at 1500 and there were people waiting to see the dentist but a few minutes later, another lady came by and said he would not open today. After wandering around some more we found another dentist, also closed. We had the coffee maker with us this time and still could not find a carafe that would fit. Sandy bought an electric kettle for the lab that will probably work. It was about $11. So four bus rides and a lot of walking and we didn't come away with much.

Jen's shoes still had not dried out from the trip to Mullumica and the Casa didn't have enough heat to dry them so she left them with us to put in front of the fire. Eric had one going in room 1 so we left them there sitting on a chair in front of the fire. After the first side had dried nicely, I turned them around and threw some more wood on the fire. Then I left for awhile. Eric was sleeping there. Apparently the fire got a little too hot and it melted the adhesive between the shells and soles of the boots and they came apart. We'll have to get her another pair of boots.

Tomorrow is a field trip to Otavalo, about 30 km up the road, then a bullfight in Cayambe. I'll pass on the bullfight, but Sandy wants to go to Otavalo to buy some more stuff.

Saturday, July 9, 2011, about 1600 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Saturdays are field trip days at the field school. This Saturday was the trip to Otavalo, an important historic trade center and contemporary market town in Northern Ecuador. Otavalo is about 30 km north of Cayambe on the PanAm. The whole project fit on one bus and it took about an hour to get there.

I elected to visit and photograph things that I had not seen on three previous trips to Otavalo, two in 2009, another in 2010 and this trip. You can see samples of other photos at my previous Ecuador and Pambamarca pages.

110709_ecuador_otavalo_veggie_vendors_09731.jpgOne of the "extra credit" things we were assigned was to find the indigenous local market, the one that was used by the locals and not the tourists. This time, we found it. An entrance was hidden behind a couple of street vendor stalls.

This is the market where the locals buy their food. This is a vegetable vendor stall, there were dozens more like this one.

110709_ecuador_oatvalo_checken_vendor_09732.jpgIn another row, there were vendors selling meat and chicken. There were piles and piles of fresh chicken.

110709_ecuador_otavalo_roasted_pig_09733.jpgOther vendors sold cooked food for immediate consumption. Customers would pick from a selection of steamed beans and grains dumped into a plastic bag. If the customer wanted, meat or juice from the roasted pig would be added.

110709_ecuador_otalavo_sandy_and_patty_9734.jpgWe sat down at a drink vendor stall for a while just to watch the action going on around us. Sandy ordered a beer, Patty (a project student) had a Coke and I had some carbonated green drink in a small bottle. I didn't figure out what it really was.

110709_ecuador_otavalo_ruminani_statue_09738.jpgThen we wandered across the furthest edge of the market space (it was huge) and found the town plaza. A church always faces the plaza. This one had a statue of Ruminani, an Inca general who was instrumental in the Inka conquest of northern Ecuador.

At this point, we hadn't purchased anything. However, that was to change. Sandy found a fabric store that was a permanent installation and had some really nice stuff. She got a 2 meter wide by 3 meter long piece of fabric that she will make into a curtain. She added some hairbands of a type that she had especially liked from previous trips, and a small painting. I got a leather belt for $8 as a backup to the belt that I bought here last year. I didn't find any clip-on sunglasses. Then we found a bakery and got some rolls to eat on the bus and returned to the bus for "lunch."

After we returned to the Hacienda, both of us crashed.

Sunday, July 10, 2011, about 1700 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

Today was the day of the main festival in Cangahua but we didn't go up there. We hung around the Hacienda until about noon and went into Cayambe to do some shopping for Sandy after I leave.

There was some confusion on my part about the departure time of my flight tomorrow. The ticket says 0210 but Sandy was sure that that meant PM. The Taca web site shows the flight as 14:10. The general belief is that Taca flys into Quito from San Jose once a day and the flight arrives at about 1330 and is turned around immediately. The website would no let me check in when we tried in the morning as it will not allow checkin more than 24 hours before flight time. When I tried to check in after 1410, I had problems with their flash based website. However, using FireFox I was able to get to the end of the process only to have it tell me to check in at the ticket counter to get my boarding pass.

While we were in Cayambe, we arranged for a camionetta (pickup truck for hire) to pick me up at 0930 tomorrow morning and take me to the airport for $40. A regular cab would be about $50. This should get me to the airport about 3 hours before flight time. Taca won't allow passengers to check in at the airport more than 3 hours before flight time. I am mostly packed and ready to go.

Patty, a student, will be moving in with Sandy after I leave. Then I have to wait for 3 weeks at home for Sandy to return. It'll be a long wait but I have other things to do during that time.

Monday, July 11, 2011, about 0730 CDT, Hacienda Guachala, Ecuador

I leave Ecuador this morning... at least I think I will. In about 2 hours, I get into a camionetta for a 90 minute trip to the airport at Quito.

The internet conditions have changed during our stay in Ecuador. At the Alcala Hostel, we had unlimited in room wireless 27/4. For a few days while we were traveling, we had no internet access at all. During the first three days at the Hacienda Guachala, we had only webmail and light surfing from the Hacienda's linux boxes so there were no web page updates posted. Then we figured out how to get on their ethernet network as there was no WiFi. We could then use our computers instead of the Hacienda's. The day before yesterday, the wireless router was replaced and their was wireless again. The Hacienda's bandwidth is maybe 300 kbits/sec on a good day but at least it worked.

Sandy's computer was acting up last night. If it continues to work, she'll be posting to her blog for the next three weeks. If the computer gets really wonky, at least she'll still have email either via her iPad or the Hacienda's computers.

Monday, July 11, 2011, about 1300 CDT, Quito, Ecuador

The camionetta arrived a half hour early and I was ready so we left. He got to the airport in the expected time but the ticket counters opened a half hour later than I expected so I had to wait an hour to check in. I was first in line. It was only 15 min from the time that the counters opened until I was at the gate.

There is free WiFi in the lounge so I am using it to catch up on the happenings on the internet.

I also found that LACSA 660 gets to San Jose, Costa Rica via Guayaquil Ecuador so it's another 3 hop trip.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011, about 0600 PDT, Torrance, CA

I got in at midnight, tired and coughing but otherwise in good order. After 4 hours of sleep, I woke up on Ecuador time (0400 here) due to jet lag.

All is well here, Charlie and Zack watched the fort well. For me, this trip is done. Now I just have to wait for 3 weeks for Sandy to return. It'll be a long wait.

Monday, July 25, 2011, about 1600 PDT, Torrance, CA

I've been back for two weeks, Sandy is still in Ecuador for another week. We've been in sporadic email contact but this is as long as we've been apart since I met her so many years ago. This is not fun.

Sandy has been updating her blog, be sure to check it out. Jen (from Mullumica fame) and her boyfriend Mark, have been updating their blog as well. Read them both for a completely different look at events in Ecuador.

This page has been accessedhit counter times since June 27, 2011

© 2011 George Schreyer
Created Jun 27, 2011
Last Updated July 25, 2011