Three days from now, Sandy and I will be on an airplane headed to Ecuador again. This trip is to support continuing research that Sandy is doing on obsidian sourcing in Ecuador. We will also be on staff again at the Pambamarca Archaeology Project. This time, the whole trip will last a month.
Based on Sandy's previous work in Ecuador, she has virtually earned her Master's degree in Anthropology from UC Fullerton. She has completed her coursework, successfully defended her thesis and of yesterday, it was approved by her advisor and the archaeology department. She is at Fullerton now, formally submitting it to the Graduate Office for final review and approvals. This won't be complete until after we get back. It has to be approved by the thesis reader for format (the content is a done deal) and grammar. At that point, sometime in August, she will formally be awarded her diploma. She walked in her graduation ceremony last month.
We'll be getting into Quito a couple of days before the field school starts and might be at the Hacienda a day before to start getting the lab set up. We'll see how this all works out when we actually get there. Things are usually a little chaotic in the first few days.
It's been a long day but we made it to Quito. It started with an alarm at 0300. We were at the airport at 0400 to catch an 0600 flight to Miami. When we got there, the AA Quito flight left out of the same gate where we came in, BUT it didn't list the flight number at the gate. It took 45 min or so to figure out that our connection was on a different airline, LAN. This was not indicated anywhere on the boarding pass that we got for the 2nd leg at LAX. It was a long walk to the other Terminal and then another trip through security but we made the 2nd flight too. After arriving in Quito, we had a very long wait at immigration. We found our bags, and took a $10 taxi ride to old town Quito to the hotel. We are in for the night. Walking around old Quito at night is not a good plan.
We have some errands to run tomorrow and we'll meet with the project on Saturday at the Magic Bean to catch a project bus to the Hacienda Guachala.
We're back from our errands and trying to get caught up on sleep. It hasn't worked for me yet though.
We wandered a block away from the hotel to a Santa Maria market and got some toothpaste and other minor stuff. Then we got Sandy's cell phone loaded up with minutes so that it worked properly. Then we took a $3 cab ride to the IGM (Instituto Geografico Militar, Ecuador's equivalent to the US Defense Mapping Agency) and got some 1:50,000 scale topographical maps of the Cangahua and Oyacachi regions where will be doing some work this year. Some of the maps are to fulfill a promise that Sandy made last year to taxi drivers from Cangahua who helped her beyond the call of duty last year. We then took another $2 cab ride to the SuperMaxi market in the Mariscal area. Then it was another $4 cab ride back to our hotel. I bought a sandwich from a local shop for lunch, Sandy ate a loaf of parmesan bread we got at the SuperMaxi. We are going to lay low for the rest of today and then start project work tomorrow afternoon after we get there.
I did get a nap. Afterwards, we took a short walking tour around the old town. This statue is on the Plaza Santo Domingo basically right outside our hotel. The words Mariscal and Sucre and plastered all over this town and we figured out why. Mariscal Sucre was a man, the first president of Ecuador.
On a hillside visible from our room, there is a large religious statue. On our walk, we got a better look at it. It is likely some kind of angel, but we didn't get closer to find out.
Ecuadorians take their religion very seriously. They build all manner of very massive and impressive structures. Within a half a mile distance that we walked, we saw at list 5 very large churches and cathedrals. This one didn't look like much from the outside, it was mostly dark gray stone and concrete. However, inside it was an entirely story.
The whole place is covered with carved plaster covered with gold leaf. I was not allowed to take photographs inside, this one was shot through the door, but the inside was overwhelming. Construction started in 1605 and continued for 160 years. A couple of earthquakes in the mid 1800's did some considerable damage, but the structure was restored. Every surface inside was either gilt, or painted statuary or bas reliefs. I estimate that 90% was gilt. It became overwhelming after only a few minutes.
A little further on, we found guards around a large building. The guards were dressed up much nicer than the average security guard or police officer. I figured that the building had some special significance.
The building is the Presidential Palace, the Ecuadorian White House. The palace faces a large square, the Grand Plaza, which had more government buildings and the Cathedral Metropolitana.
We concluded our walk along Avenue Guayaquil back to our hotel. This evening we take a trip back to the Mariscal district to go to a project staff meeting at Uncle Ho's restaurant.
Today was our travel day to the Hacienda Guachala, a Spanish Colonial era structure first built in 1580, now a hotel. However, we saw out of our hotel window that the doors to the church across the plaza were open so we walked over for a look. Services were in session, but photography was allowed. The Iglesia Santo Domingo was not quite as gilt as the church we saw yesterday, but there was still plenty of gold leaf.
We then checked out of the hotel, took a $2 cab ride to the Mariscal district to a hotel and restaurant called the Magic Bean where we met the bus to the Hacienda. However, the bus took us to the town of Cangahua, about 2 miles south of the Hacienda. This is where the students and many of the staff will stay in the Casa, a converted convent. The project rents it from the Catholic church.
This was my lunch at the Casa, salty meat, beans similar to lima beans, quinoa (a grain that grows at high altitude) soup and local corn. It was very good.
This is the time of the summer solstice festival in Cangahua and by the time the group left the Casa to go to the Hacienda to set up the lab, the streets were full of dancers. We had to weave our way through this mess and literally walk out of town because vehicle movement in town was very restricted. We found and hired a taxi to carry about 10 people. Taxis here are pickup trucks with railings in the back to hold on to.
We got room 8, the same room we were in in 2009, and then got to work setting up the lab. There was lots to do. I was basically wiring the place for lighting and power, but much of the stuff from last year was missing so I need to make a run into town to buy some more lamps, extension cords and outlet strips. The dig kits needed a lot of replenishment so a small group went into town to buy supplies. Then the whole group, less Sandy and I, went back to the Casa for dinner. We got dinner in the Hacienda because we knew that if we went up there at the height of the festival, it would be very hard to get back.
After dinner, trout for me, steak for Sandy, we retired to our room. I build a fire and Sandy crashed. Then I worked on this web page.
The internet situation is vastly improved at the Hacienda. There is free WiFi over most of the area between the Library and front office. It isn't real fast, but at least there is not usage limit.
Tomorrow will be efforts to get both the Casa and Hacienda ready for an influx of students by tomorrow afternoon.
It's going to be a laid back morning. Most of the action in at the Casa and it isn't practical to get there due to the fiesta. The power is out in the whole region due to some electrical work on the power grid. It is scheduled to come back on by 1400. We had power when I started my shower (we have actual hot water) but was out by the time that I finished.
I was planning to go in Cayambe this morning but circumstances have conspired against me. It is Sunday, most businesses won't be open until late in the day, there is a big parade in Cayambe and there is no power so that most stores will be closed and I certainly won't find somebody with a working copier. I need to make some copies of some documents for the student packets. When the power comes back on, I will reconsider going in this after noon or tomorrow morning.
I am wring this on battery power, Sandy's computer has a dead battery. The files that we wanted to get off her computer are locked inside until we can plug it in. Of course, the WiFi at the Hacienda is down too.
The power outage was a scheduled wide area outage, the Hacienda staff was expecting it. We got along quite well with power until about 1400 when the power returned. Sandy and I then got on a bus for a trip to Cayambe. I went to a copier shop and had about 400 pages of copies made for the student packets. Then Sandy and I shopped for project stuff (mostly electrical) and some lunch stuff for us because we won't have a system in place to get a lunch made from materials at the Casa for at least several days. Shortly after we got back, we headed up to the Casa for dinner and then a staff meeting. After the meeting was over, we returned to the Hacienda, built a fire and went to bed.
Today was orientation day for the students. The project created a list of things to find in Cangahua and Cayambe and also to find the ways to get between them. The activity ended at the Hacienda at about 1500 where they learned the history of the Hacienda and toured the lab where many of them will work at times.
While the students were out on their expedition, I drove several of the staff to Cayambe to buy things. I found some of the items on my things to buy list. I also found that there likely wasn't a desk lamp to be found in Cayambe. One of the staff is returning to Quito for a couple of days so she will look for some there.
I did the rest of the wiring in the lab so that the overhead lighting fixture works and all the workstations have power, but we mostly don't have anything to plug in.
Sandy worked in the lab. She got her USB microscope (pretty much a toy but it does work at 10x well, 60x marginally and hardly at all at 200x. The illuminator is just one white LED which is not adequate. We have the software to drive it on two Macintoshes.
One of the staff brought an XRF machine, which this year, actually worked. Last year, it was damaged in shipment. XRF (X-Ray Florescence) is a method to detect the chemical composition of samples. It has limitations, but it is portable so that it is very handy. The netbook that came with it was DOA. However, we have the software on at least two other computers so that we will still be able to use it. We are also going to try to get the software running in a virtualized instance of Windows 7 which I have on this computer.
This is the Hacienda plaza as seen from the church bell tower. The Hacienda Guachala has not changed a lot since we were first here in 2009. I have documented the place at the 2009 Pambamarca Archaeology Project Field School pages so I won't do that again here.
I spent the morning with Ted, another staff member and PhD in archaeology, running around town finding materials and tools that the project needs to operate. At some point, I think that I got picked for $15 or so. I found most of the stuff I was looking for but I'll probably have to make another pass tomorrow. I am figuring out how to fumble with enough Spanish to describe what I want. The trip was sort of a scavenger hunt.
Sandy has her own web page going to document this trip. We don't see each other's stuf until we read it on the web. It is interesting to see how the other half views the same events. Her page is at this link.
This is the de-sanctified church, built in 1936, that we have converted into a lab. In 2009, our lab was in another building, but it got converted into a school so the project had to find new digs.
Activity at the lab has started to settle down into an organized activity. There are several students classifying artifacts that have been collected in years past. This work should have been done then but the project has the space and manpower to do it now. It also exposes the students to the processes and procedures that will happen to the artifacts that they discover.
For this photo, I was standing in the choir alcove under the bell towers.
Sandy has a workstation on one side of the lab. Other workstations are assigned to other staff members. The students are working on the floor or on the large round table that we used to use for a lunch buffet.
The portable XRF machine has been set up and Sandy is getting it configured for use. This is a $30,000 instrument that we are very fortunate to be able to use. The main thrust of the XRF work will be to determine if it can be used to source ceramic materials, such as potter shards. Others have tried and found the data inconclusive but we are going to take another shot at it.
There are lots of animals around the Hacienda. This horse and mule are waiting for the Hacienda owner to go riding. The Hacienda also provides horseback rides for $8/hour with a guide. I may take them up on a ride sometime later.
When we got up this morning, this mama pig and four piglets were running around the pasture outside our room. They had wandered into another room and had to be chased out. By the time we got through with breakfast, they were rooting around the edges of the plaza. When I walked into the plaza, the piglets gathered around me. Mama grunted a bit but didn't seem too concerned. Then one of the Hacienda staff chased them out to another pasture.
Where there is a mama pig and piglets, there is likely a papa pig. He was in the pigpen in the 2nd pasture. The piglets were outside the pigpen selectively tearing up the bermuda grass and eating the thicker runners.
There was also a small heard of llamas in the pasture, but they were wary of my presence and were not going to let me get very close. There were a couple of young llamas in the herd too.
Then there is El Gato, the cat. This one is kind of small and thin. She has been making the rounds of the dining room every night. Somebody mentioned that they thought that they heard kittens in the Library. We looked but heard and saw nothing. They might still be up inside the couches. Sandy bought a small bag of cat food at the store in Cayambe and has been leaving some of it out for the cat every day. It doesn't take long for it to vanish.
The weather has been extremely nice so far, but that will change. We are in a temperate climate, shirt sleeve weather during the day and light jacket weather in the evening and at night. The sky usually has mixed clouds and it will rain lightly at any time of the day, even out of a clear sky. Nobody pays much attention to it as there is not enough to "stick." The drops that hit the ground dry before another drop can hit there. There can be gusty wind at any time. At the sites, which are mostly exposed, the wind can be a real bother bringing stinging dust with it. Sometimes you just have to put your back to the wind and close your eyes until it dies down.
This morning, the XRF suffered some damage to it's data cable. We'll have to get another one shipped from the US, but it couldn't be ordered today because the Bruker office is closed for the 4th. Even after it gets ordered, we still have to have it shipped here. It will take 2 days by DHL and even then we have to go into Quito to the DHL office as they do not deliver out this far.
When I first got here I was assigned the task of Senor Fixit, a job I've had every year. However, that job does not keep me busy after the first few days. I unpacked all the electrical stuff and wired power in the lab. I bought about $50 worth of extension cords, outlet strips and other stuff to get the lab wired. I found enough existing stuff to get the computer room wired. We still need desk lamps but we have borrowed some out of the Hacienda rooms for now.
My other job is ongoing, that of gopher (go-fer this and go-fer that). I've made at least one trip to Cayambe every day for "stuff" and photo copies. Other than that, I have been kicking back.
Sandy is spending most of her time in the lab sorting through ceramic artifacts in the hope that we actually do get the XRF fixed.
Yesterday evening we went to the Casa for dinner, a general project meeting and then a staff meeting. At the general meeting, several students and staff presented a short description of their projects. Every student will have to come up with a project to do in the next couple of weeks so this was an introduction for them so that they can be better prepared to invent one of their own. We set up a projector and a computer in the church's meeting room a block away from the Casa.
The Casa itself is just chaos. It is crowded and noisy. There are about 60 students and 30 staff so they have to serve dinner in shifts and even then, the first people that eat need to get up from the table to make room for those where were later in the shift. Yesterday or the day before, I installed smoke detectors in the Casa. Even the Casa is not large enough to accommodate all of the students. About a dozen are staying as part of a "home stay" project with various families in Cangahua. They sleep in the houses but eat with the rest of the group in the Casa.
We rode up in the cab of a project pickup truck, but in the back on the way down. It was pretty cold by that time.
This morning, the weather is really nice, very warm in the sun and cool in the shade. The Hacienda is crawling with students drawing diagrams and mapping the Hacienda in their notebooks. In about an hour, they will get a demo of ARCGIS (mapping software) on the computers in the labs. Sandy is busy installing it for the just-in-time demo.
The staff has set up 8 stations describing the operational aspects of archaeology. The students are divided into 8 groups and visit each station for 15 minutes for an introduction to the stuff that they will learn in detail in the next three weeks. After lunch, there will be a field trip to Mitad del Mundo (the middle of the world) which is a monument that sits directly on the equator. It is right along the PanAm highway about a mile and a half north of the Hacienda.
Today, the project went on a field trip to sites we had been to before, so Sandy and I decided to go to Oyacachi on the other side of the continental divide to find some more of the obsidian samples that she had found last year. We knew that they were all "bozo" rocks (they have no context because some bozo put them there) but the ones she found last year came from an unidentified source. She wanted more than just the few samples she already had.
This photo is of the high altitude farms in the communities above Cangahua. At slightly higher altitudes, farming is very difficult. They are mostly growing potatoes and onions.
We hired a truck and driver in Cangahua. He drove us to Oyacachi and back and would wait up to 4 hours for $35. The road leaving Cangahua was paved with concrete pavers and was good. Then it turn to cobblestone for several miles, then dirt, then near the continental divide, it was mud most of the way to Oyacachi.
Above 12,000 ft or so, the land is called the paramo. It is a spongy soil covered with clumps of tough grass. It can hold lots of water until somebody grazes cows there and packs it all down. It is also difficult to walk through because the land underneath is usually a muddy bog.
In Oyacachi, we found the road. It is about 10 km long and dead ends. The taxi driver didn't want to drive down the road so we walked part way down until we got tired and came back up to meet him.
The reason that this particular road was interesting is that it had be filled with obsidian laden fill dirt. This was the odd obsidian. If all of the obsidian was from the same unknown source, then where ever the road crew got the fill was at or near the source. This also means that it was probably next to some other road and easy to get to.
The obsidian was easiest to spot in holes in the road that were filled with water to make puddles. The water washed the dirt from the obsidian and made it more visible. There was typically one or more pieces in every 10th puddle or so and there were lots of puddles. There is one obvious piece in this puddle.
Right at 12 o'clock, the piece shows up as a glistening black spot.
We also found a pile of dirt beside the road that was just saturated with very low quality obsidian pieces. Sandy is standing on it for scale.
This is the litter on the surface of that pile. All those black stones are obsidian. This stuff is very low grade obsidian. It would not have been used for any purpose as it is neither weapons grade nor tool grade material. The stuff has no archaeological significance, Sandy's interest was primarily geochemical. She wants to know where it came from even if there is no likelihood that anybody will find any archaeological artifacts that came from this source.
We went as far down the road as the old village of Oyacachi. There were numerous abandoned stone buildings and a cemetery. The dates on the monuments were as late as 1995. The government of Ecuador relocated the village up the hill a little ways because the old location was prone to flooding.
On the way back, just below the continental divide (at almost 13,000 ft) was an obvious quarry. We stopped there and collected some samples. The loose material there was partly very poor quality obsidian and we found more on the roadcut just uphill from the quarry. However, in the gutter at the edge of the road, there was a layer of higher quality obsidian. We may have found samples of both types in the road in Oyacachi. The stuff in the gutter was clearly not rockfall from the road cut but it could not have washed down from very far away as there wasn't much uphill from there.
We then got back in the truck and returned to Cangahua. However, we had a little incident in town. The road was jammed with vehicles stopped in a 2 lane rode and the drivers were working around the blockages with careful maneuvers. Then a motorcycle rider came upon the scene a little too quickly and tried to squeeze between two pickup trucks and hit both our truck and the other one. At this point, I was really glad that I was not driving. There were scrapes on both trucks and the motorcycle lost some handlebar and tail light parts but the rider just smiled and rode off. The taxi drivers were not amused.
Our laundry had been returned to the Hacienda earlier this morning. Sandy's was there but mine wasn't. In the Casa in Cangahua, we rifled through the remaining unopened laundry bags and in the last one I found my laundry. We then ferried one of the project cars from Cangahua to the Hacienda and collapsed. My pedometer has over 14,000 steps on it and there are still hours to go today.
One of the directors of the field school took a mug shot of every staff and student and he wanted it made up into printable document sorted by "team." There are 8 student/staff teams of 6 to 8 members each, another of staff and another of the support staff at the Casa. I downloaded all his pictures and started cropping them and editing them into PowerPoint charts. I would have used Keynote but due to a software issue, Keynote was not working right.
It was really windy last night and this morning, sometime during breakfast the power went out again. I was able to download his camera to my computer on battery power but I didn't want to try to build the PowerPoint package until we had AC power again which happened around noon.
It was a little time consuming editing nearly 100 photos, getting them pasted into to PowerPoint and resized. It wasn't difficult except for some of the odd things that PowerPoint does at times.
I tried to print a proof copy for his review and then the problems started. The HP printer that we had been using does not print color, probably a dried out cartridge. Then I ran it out of black ink before I printed half of the proof sheets. The Lexmark printer that has new cartridges started generating errors and refused to print and I don't have a Lexmark printer driver installed on either computer we brought. I started to download one but it will take 3 hours to get it.
I found two Epson printers in boxes in the lab. However, I didn't have Epson drivers installed and the Epson drivers are 6x larger than the Lexmark drivers. I tried to see if Sandy's computer had Epson drivers but it refused to boot, doing some very odd things. Then after about an hour of trying to get some response from the thing, it just fixed itself. I have no clue what the problem was. After it booted I found that it didn't have Epson drivers either. I then found that I had saved the most recent Epson drivers on a USB jump drive that was in my backpack so I installed them on my computer. Then I could at least talk to the printers. One refused to work with communication errors. The other tried to work but it refused to print because it declared that it was out of black ink. The three color cartridges show about half full and there are 3 spare color cartridges still in their boxes, but no replacement black cartridge. It looks like I am going to have to make another run into Cayambe for more cartridges.
Sandy and I were the only project people at dinner again tonight. The project bought 20 dinners and 20 breakfasts as part of the package deal for the 10 rooms, but it isn't worth the trouble for the kitchen staff to make some special meal for us so we just order from the menu.
Next weekend is a 3 day weekend where students and staff are allowed to travel. We are planning what we might do, but it is possible that we will go to Mindo for a couple of days. Mindo is in the cloud forest at about 1500 meters altitude. Sandy went there last year and liked it. Another couple of staff members may go there as well.
A knock on our door got us going earlier than usual today and we were out and done with breakfast before the students arrived. This was their first day in the field and I had planned to go with a group to somewhere however, I was repurposed to go into town and get more copies made along with picking up other stuff.
On my way out to the road, Cabo and Gabby drove by and asked me if I wanted a lift to Cayambe which I accepted. When I got there, there was a problem. There was no power in town. Therefore there was nowhere to get copies made. I did buy about 60 7" nails to stake out units. The hardware store didn't need power to operate. I also managed to find black printer cartridges for an HP and Epson printer as the only working printer (the HP) was flat out of black and the color didn't work. The Gran Aki market was not open but the Santa Maria market was because it has a backup generator in the parking lot under the store. It was loud. However, the Santa Maria didn't have any diet Coke which was high on my list by order of my better half. They did have bread, ham and cheese to make more sandwiches for our lunches. I rode the bus back to the Hacienda Guachala to distribute what I had.
I got the HP printer working and then started on an Epson printer that had, according to the Epson Utility, 3 good color carts but it refused to print anything with the empty black cartridge. After installing the black cartridge, the whole thing started to work so I could print proof sheets of the mug shot PowerPoint file. They came out well. After the proofs were reviewed, I made some small edits and printed the final copy that will get posted at the Casa.
At mid afternoon, I took the bus back to Cayambe and there was power so I could get about 300 copies made. The Gran Aki was open and had diet Coke, chocolate and cat food. Sandy has been feeding the cat and already went through a 0.5 kg bag in less than a week so I got a 1.5 kg bag this time. After a stop at a panderia (bakery) to get some empanadas (cheese filled sweet roll), I got back on the bus for the trip back to the Hacienda Guachala. All my tasks were completed for today.
Many of the students are doing excavations on Hacienda property today. There were several places surveyed with GPR (ground penetrating radar) in past years and possibly interesting stuff was found in the images. The old chapel was one of those places. The GPR data indicated possible burials.
This unit is a potential burial site. It might be a Frenchman who died of a fever as there is some historical reference to his burial in the chapel. The floor tiles have been carefully marked and individually removed and placed in order next to the unit so that they can be replaced if desired. Actual excavation has not started yet.
Behind the chapel, three new units were opened, all 1 by 1 meter. There is GPR data here also that indicates that something is down there.
A larger 1 by 2 meter unit has been opened in the south pasture. The initial finds appear to be refuse with lots of brick and even some plastic. They expect to have to go much deeper to get to a post Inka level. There might even be Inka stuff here.
The largest unit is a 2 by 2 meter unit being dug in the soccer field where Sandy I helped to perform a GPR survey in 2009. There was something there as well but it wasn't clear what it was.
I hiked up to Molina Loma (a hill behind the Hacienda) where we dug in 2009 to expose an Inka storehouse complex. This was a series of units that I worked on. They look pretty clean now because one day last week, the students were taken up there to clean it up. The whole place looks a lot different because all the trees were cut down for wood. New trees have started growing.
Due to the trees that were there before, I didn't have a good view to the west from Molino Loma in past years. This is a section of farmland to the west of the Hacienda. There is a road going along the very right side in the phot to the other side that can be followed to Loma Sandoval, another site I worked on in 2009.
During my tour this morning, I ran across some more animals on the Hacienda property. There are four large rabbits that wander around the Hacienda plaza. I wondered if there were any little rabbits around, today I found two of them. There is at least this one and a darker, almost black, bunny behind the chapel. Where there are two bunnies, there are likely more of them.
I had not seen this baby llama before either. He was among a herd of them, each one was watching me to see if I got too close.
There have always been geese in the south pasture of the hacienda. I shot these by telephoto because they stay far away from any activity out there.
The afternoon went pretty quietly. Other than helping some of the students and staff for a few minutes, I didn't have a lot to do. The project is starting to run pretty smoothly and most of what needed to be fixed has been fixed.
Some time before lunch, the internet went down. There was an ISP related problem but the Hacienda staff got on it and it was fixed in a few hours.
The upcoming weekend is a 3 day off weekend to allow students and staff to travel. However our plans have not gelled yet. We are planning to go to Mindo in the cloud forest but we don't have confirmed reservations at the place that Sandy wants to stay. If we don't get reservations, we will find something else to do. It's a several hour bus ride to get there and back and we sure aren't going to stay in some cheap hostel and get eaten by bedbugs like many of the students did last year.
I went on a tour of the open units again this morning and I found that there are at least 3 bunnies, a charcoal black one, a dark gray one and a white and light gray one. The picture is small because I cropped it from my iPod touch camera. There were also 3 duckings walking around but the iPod touch pictures were so bad, I elected not to use them. I need to start carrying my better camera with me all the time. They say that the best camera is the one that you have with you.... but there are limits. The iPod touch camera doesn't really qualify as a camera.
In the south pasture, I was dragooned into mapping a plan view of a unit as there was just the staff member and one student there to cover two units and they needed some helping hands. Later, I helped them photographing the units and sifting through excavated dirt.
At about 1430 I settled into our room. About 1630, I woke up. I hadn't planned on taking a nap, but it sort of happened. Life is rough.
I have a mini-MagLight flashlight that I had converted to LED with a kit I bought at Fry's. I tried it out last week and it didn't work. One battery was leaking inside and it was swollen into the case. A couple of days ago I managed to persuade it to come out with some not so gentle pounding, but after reassembly and the addition of new batteries, it still didn't work. In the middle of the night last night I awoke and, for some reason, I realized that I had reassembled it incorrectly. So at 0-dark-30 on the clock, I took it apart again, reassembled it properly and THEN it worked.
The trip to Mindo is on again. The hotel there got back to us and confirmed our reservation. So early Saturday morning, we get on a bus to Quito, then another to Mindo. I'll be out of internet range for a couple of days. We will leave there early on Monday morning and return the the Hacienda sometime near mid-day on Monday.
Normally, only Sandy and I have dinner at the Hacienda. In the last couple of days, another researcher has had dinner with us. Tonight, there was a party with about 15 people, mostly the senior staff, attending. It was noisy and good. Most us had shrimp, but Sandy had chicken.
I didn't much on my agenda for today, but that got changed for me.
Thursday is our laundry day and we put it out but it didn't get picked up like last week. Apparently the process has changed. After breakfast, I caught a bus to the Casa in Cangahua and dropped it off at the spot below a sign on the wall. However, there was no other outgoing laundry there so I apparently missed the transfer as well. In any event, it will go out with the next batch, probably tomorrow. I got on the bus back to the Hacienda but just before I got there, my cell phone rang. Sandy and another staff member were waiting for that bus outside the Hacienda. They told me to stay on the bus. They got on and we were off to Quito to finally pick up the XRF cable that Sandy damaged about a week ago.
We got off the Cangahua bus at the PanAm highway and the Quito bus was already there. We got on that bus for a 1.5 hour ride to Quito for $1.25 each. At the northern bus terminal in Quito, we caught a cab for $2.50 to the DHL office where we picked up and paid for the package. We opened the box right there and it was amazingly the right part. We then caught another cab, for $1.50 this time, back to the bus terminal and got on a bus to Cayambe. Nearly 1.5 hours later, the other staff member got off at the Cangahua road. Sandy and I rode on into Cayambe to do some grocery shopping. We then got back on the Cangahua bus and rode back to the Hacienda for a total trip time from when I left the Hacienda of 5 hours for what was supposed to be a 30 minute errand.
We got back just in time. About 15 minutes later it started to rain then we got some pretty good thunder. Time to unplug the computers.
After a dozen or so thunder rolls (about 1.5 miles at the closest when we could eventually see some of the lightning to time the distance) it all stopped abruptly, the sun came out, the ground dried and everything returned to normal. Such is the weather in Ecuador.
I found myself a little underutilized today so I spent some time surfing the net. I tried the Find My Mac feature of Mac OS X Lion and it pinned both my computer and iPod to the correct spot on a map. The satellite view was almost usable too so I took some screenshots from Google Earth that pinpoints the Hacienda.
This is the area map that I originally posted before I actually knew exactly where the Hacienda was. This shows Quito and to the northeast, the pin is in the region called Pambamarca, in particular it points to the mountain called Pambamarca. The Hacienda is east of the pin. In the lower right is a dotted line. This is the continental divide. To the south and east of the line, is the Amazon region. At the upper right is the town of Cayambe. Cayambe is a good reference point for the next map.
The Andes mountain range is two ranges of volcanos separated by a deep valley or basin. The western range is just to the left of Quito which sits on a shelf on the eastern side of the western range. Then there is the deep basin which is 1000 meters or so deep. The eastern range, which includes Pambamarca (4400 meters or 14,500 ft) and the Cayambe volcano (about 5550 meters or 18,200 ft). The Cayambe volcano is not quite on the map, it is just east of Cayambe. Past the eastern range is the Amazon.
This is the overall area including Cayambe for reference. E35 is the PanAm highway. The equator goes through the photo marker of Mitad del Mundo next to the E35 shield icon. The A pin dropped in Cayambe is a representation of the Hacienda's mailing address, not the actual location of the Hacienda. Near the bottom center is a photo icon that is located at the Hacienda, literally on top of the owner's house.
This map has some more local detail. The Hacienda is marked the same as the last map. Cangahua is just off the lower edge of the map. The silver structures are the greenhouses of the local rose farms.
The Hacienda itself is clouded over in this view, but some of the major structures can be discerned anyway. I have marked them on the map. Our room is #8, located in the old stables building. The church is a relatively new (1932) structure. Our lab is set up in the church. The Hacienda plaza is hard to make out in the haze, but the circular structure is the fountain in the center of the plaza. At the right of the map, more in the clear, is part of Molino Loma, a hill behind the Hacienda.
This is a view to the south of the Hacienda (photo icon at the top) including a site that is being worked this year, Pukarito. Pukarito is a hilltop fortress that was used by both the Cayambe tribes and later, the Inka. This dual use is based on the types of artifacts and the levels in which they were found during previous excavations of the site. Pukarito is about halfway between the Hacienda and the town of Cangahua which is still off the bottom of this map.
This map shows the relation between Pukarito and the town of Cangahua. The Iglesia de Cangahua (the church) is marked by the photo icon on this map.
This is a detail of Cangahua showing the church and the Casa where the students are staying. The town only covers a few blocks, but a typically large plaza fronts the church. This whole plaza fills up during the festivals.
We woke at 0500 and got ready to catch a bus. It was pitch dark outside at the Hacienda and reasonably cold. By 0530, we were waiting on the Cangahua road for a bus. We had been told that they start running at 0530 in the morning. A bus came by 10 minutes later and we got on for a short trip to the PanAm highway. When I paid the driver and got off, I realized that it was a school bus but that was ok. The driver wanted the fare and we wanted the ride.
We crossed the PanAm highway and waited less than a minute before the bus to Quito came by. We got on that bus at about 0545. It was about 0700 by the time we arrived in the La Ofelia bus station in Quito.
We bought our ticket to Mindo ($5 for both of us) and after looking at the ticket, it was on the same bus we came in on, number 18. Basically, it's a 2 hour bus ride from Quito on the Flor del Valle bus line from the La Ofelia bus terminal. This is convenient for us because this is the same bus line that goes from Quito to Cayambe. It's hard to see the destination at the top of the wind shield, but it says Mindo. Basically, this bus company goes from Cayambe to Mindo and back although most of the busses go just from Quito to Cayambe. Other bus companies go to other destinations. This was the first bus to Mindo for the day and it left right on time at 0740. The bus proceeded generally north past the Quito Mitad del Mundo monument and climbed over the western Andes. Then we started down. We had to burn off an estimated 7500 ft in altitude to reach Mindo which is at 4500 ft or so. We got there just about 0930. Our return bus is at 1345 on Monday, but we cannot buy a ticket until 12 hours before the bus leaves. The Flor del Valle bus line is the only one that comes here. The bus terminal has room for exactly one bus.
Sandy was here last year so she knew the way. The resort is about 0.85 miles out of town along a hard packed dirt road. We walked it. The air is humid and feels thick considering that we have been breathing 9500' air for much of the last two weeks. However, at least it isn't hot. The temperature is just about right.
We have arrived at the El Carmelo Eco Resort outside of Mindo, Ecuador. This is our "tree house" room. It is pretty nice. It is not just on stilts, part of it is supported by a substantial branch of an orange tree.
Our treehouse has a balcony that overlooks Mindo and a river below. This area is known as the cloud forest. It gets a lot of water. It would be nice to be sitting out there in a rainstorm. I expect that we'll have that opportunity.
Mindo is about half a mile away by line of sight, but we have to walk further due to the lay of the roads. We'll walk in there for some lunch later. We should be getting lots of exercise here.
There is a full and a twin bed in the room. Both are in good condition, unlike the mattresses at the Hacienda that are somewhat beat up.
The other side of the room has the door to a nicely tiled bathroom and a shelf with a power outlet underneath. It looked like an ideal computer charging station but the outlet doesn't work. We set up the computer charging station at the only other outlet in the room which between the beds.
There are three swimming pools here, but two of them are covered, clearly not in use. A shallow pool is not covered but the water is fairly cold. There is another large pool near the lobby but it is cold too.
There is WiFi in the lobby but it is pretty slow. Download speeds are about 0.6 MBits/sec, upload is 0.15 MBits/sec. Still, it is better than no internet.
After we got settled in, we took a walk back to town for some lunch and supplies. This is pretty much the whole town, 3 blocks down the main road. We got some lunch at a pizza place, it was very good. Then we shopped for a jug of juice for me, diet coke and chocolate for Sandy. We found the chocolate at a bakery but nobody carries diet coke in large bottles. The small bottles were $0.85 and Sandy didn't want to pay that much. The 3 liter bottle of Valle brand orange juice was $1.40. We then walked back to the resort, showered to get the sweat off and then simply crashed. Neither of us had slept very well last night and we needed some sleep.
We'll have dinner at the resort and then we'll likely crash early.
Today is Sandy's 60th birthday, Happy Birthday Sandy.
We had dinner in the hotel last night, Sandy had steak, I had trout. Mine was among the best I have ever had, Sandy said that the steak tasted good but was a little tough. We returned to the room about 2030 and, as expected, we both crashed right away.
There are biting bugs here, likely mosquitos, I got three bites on the elbow last night and one more on the ankle this morning. I didn't notice any biting bugs during our walk yesterday. There were some ant trails crossing the road. I was careful not to step on them because I didn't want to deal with angry ants in my sandals.
The lobby of the hotel is where the WiFi coverage is. The lobby is completely open to the weather. There are very large "picture" windows but with no glass. This is where I was when I got bit. It is pretty clear that the weather is mild here. There is no heat in the room (except for hot water) and apparently no heat is needed. The room has glass in the windows though.
I was actually curious exactly where we were so I fired up Google Earth and got a map of Mindo in relation to Quito. We traveled north from Quito for a ways then turned west and climbed the western range of the Andes. We traveled through a pass and then it was downgrade for a long way until we turned off the main highway on a 10 km or so dead end road to Mindo.
Google Earth's close in maps for Mindo were useless. This is the best I could do from Google Maps. The hotel is southwest of the last straight section of road on the map. The pin in the map is not exactly where Mindo is. Mindo itself is the gray area surrounding the end of the road.
We were looking for the location of the butterfly sanctuary only to discover that it was at the hotel and the tour was free to registered guests. The first stop was at a large swimming pool that we didn't even know existed. It is located across the road from the hotel proper. There we picked up some more folks that wanted to go on the guided tour which was supposed to last about and hour.
After a short walk on a jungle trail, we stopped at the orchid house. There weren't a lot of orchids there, but the ones that were there were nice. Sandy is posing next to some orange ones.
Further up the trail we stopped at the butterfly house. There were some enclosures there that had various larval stages of the butterfly's development. These caterpillars will soon spin cocoons to develop into butterflies.
There weren't a lot of butterflies in the main enclosure, the guide indicated that it was not the best time of year, but there were some nice ones. I believe that this is called a lacewing butterfly.
This was the most colorful one there, it was actually flittering about and would not hold still, but I took about 20 random photographs of it and just one came out well.
Further up from the butterfly enclosure, we climbed a steep and twisting trail through the jungle. Much of it was quite a bit steeper and narrower than this photo. I spent a lot of the time looking down at my footing and only looked up when the group stopped to talk about something.... in Spanish. I could pick some of it out, Sandy helped by translating too. I was pleased to be able to understand SOME of what he was saying without translation.
At the end of the trail we came out by a road which lead back down to the hotel. On the way down, we passed the top end of one of the zip lines which are also run out of the hotel. I am going to pass on the zip lines. There were also quite a few domesticated animals running around, more or less loose, a horse, several large pigs, a bunch of chickens, cows and geese.
We got back to the hotel about 90 minutes after we left and then got lunch at the hotel. The prices were not a lot higher than what was available in town. The shrimp ceviche was excellent. Sandy had a ham and cheese sandwich and beer. As I expected that she would, she promptly passed out when we returned to the room.
After she woke from her nap, she started working on documentation for the project describing how to correct GPS readings in this region so that they match the maps in ArcGIS. Then I took a nap. We went to dinner at 1900 and then retired for the evening.
The plan for tomorrow is to sleep in, get breakfast, pack and check out. We'll walk to the bus station and buy our return tickets, get lunch in town and wait for the 1345 bus. We should be back at the Hacienda about dinner time.
It started to rain at about dawn but stopped as we were packing up. We're trying to pack in a little bit more rain proof manner as it is really foggy. This is the cloud forest where the cloud layer comes up against the mountainsides. It can rain at any time although this is the "dry" season where it doesn't usually rain all day.
We got breakfast and checked out of the hotel by 1000 and walked to town and bought our bus tickets. Then we stopped at an internet shop that had WiFi and I got surfed out in about a half hour, $0.50 worth. Then we retired to the Pizzeria Tigrillo across the street from the bus station and "rented" a table. At noon, we got some sandwiches for lunch. The bus leaves at 1345 for the La Ofelia terminal in Quito. From there we take another bus toward Cayambe and get off at the Cangahua road. There we pick up a Cangahua bus for the final 2 miles to the Hacienda. We should get there just before dinner.
The bus left Mindo spot on time and took just under 2 hours to get to La Ofelia. We got off the bus and enquired where the bus to Cayambe was and were were pointed back to the bus we just got off so we climbed back on and ended up in the same seats. We got off at the Cangahua turnoff and caught a Cangahua bus to the Hacienda.
We did get here just in time for dinner. The whole trip was uneventful and went to plan. I am sitting in the Hacienda dining room waiting for my steak dinner.
Today was a normal business day for the project. Sandy is working in the lab classifying and recording data about ceramic artifacts. The students are mostly working in the lab or in 9 or, or maybe more, units around the Hacienda. In one newly dug unit, the students are covered a crankshaft, an old style oil filter, pieces of leaf springs, other suspension parts and other metallic parts. We have reason to suspect that these are not Inka artifacts.
Sandy and I took a trip into Cayambe to re-provision and to visit a dentist so that I could get a chipped tooth (that had been a problem for about 18 months) fixed. We tried to do this in the last week I was at the field school last year, but didn't manage to get it done. This time, the dentist saw us right away and fixed it for $30. I was impressed, he had all the necessary equipment and supplies and clearly knew exactly what he was doing.
I have been doing project operation support tasks up to this point. However, this evening I got assigned a task more directly related to archaeology. The directors want me to identify the Hacienda as a site. Within the site there were be sub sites, or build divisions defined and within the build divisions, build spaces and then units. I will use Sandy's GPS equipment and the surveyor's map that is hanging outside the office as a guide.
I have been doing project operation support tasks up to this point. However, this evening I got assigned a task more directly related to archaeology. The directors want me to identify the Hacienda as a site. Within the site there were be sub sites, or build divisions defined and within the build divisions, build spaces and then units.
I will use Sandy's GPS equipment and the surveyor's map that is hanging outside the office as a guide. The project is most interested in the bottom portion of the map that describes the Hacienda proper. Although the whole of Molina Loma is of interest too, this year's activity is taking place right around the Hacienda.
I got some better pictures of the Hacienda map and checked them for distortion. There is some trapezoidal distortion as I didn't have the camera exactly perpendicular to the map, but this is correctable with a better photo setup. I will be able to get a minimally distorted image later. These served the purpose of getting a hardcopy that I could take GPS coordinates at several points to help geolocate the map in ArcGIS. Then it will be easy to draw build divisions, build spaces and units on another layer and then hide the detailed map when necessary.
It was raining on and off all morning so that to avoid getting my map and the GPS stuff wet, I had to take breaks until the rain stopped.
I compared three dedicated GPS units, Sandy's iPod and Holux GPS logger at a couple of places and I found that that dedicated units provided better consistency and smaller errors than Sandy's toys. I then picked one of the dedicated units and walked all around and through the Hacienda getting GPS locations at spots that were clearly defined on the surveyor's map. The project staff photographer got a picture with only a small amount of pincushion distortion at the very corners which is not a problem as the Hacienda area low distortion. Our problems began when we tried to geolocate the points on the map where I had GPS readings. It just didn't work. Just before sundown, I walked the points again and took new readings, this time in UTM format. However, the GPS unit was acting really weirdly with wildly fluctuating readings. When I tried to geolocate the map with those readings, the software showed large error bars and refused to proceed. Some of the GPS points are likely bad. We picked just two points that are along a road that is parallel to the equator, according to the map, and then the map rotated properly but we have no way to tell if the scaling is correct because with only two points, the errors are zero by definition.
We are going to measure the distance between those points with a tape tomorrow morning to see if those two points are self consistent. I will also likely record all six points again with TWO GPS units this time. We can add one point at a time to the two to that we have to see which ones mess up the map rotation and which ones don't.
Sandy and I taped the length of the stable building and with that data and the knowledge that the GPS point and one other GPS point rotated the map properly, we were able to scale the map also. We think that is geo-referenced closely enough for the intended purpose.
I took new GPS data with the original receiver and another one this morning. Both are Magellan units. I found that the "orange" one was simply unstable. It's readings today did not agree with the ones yesterday by a significant amount. The other receiver, the "brown" one, repeated about 10x better, down to about 2 ticks on the UTM measurement. After walking the length of the Hacienda to get the data, I retook it on the way back. The brown one was repeatable, the orange one was not. The orange one was worse at some points that other points, but it was always flakey.
Yesterday, one of the directors took us up behind the owner's house and showed us a historic mill ruin. There is a clearly constructed race to direct water to an undershot type water wheel. The wheel itself is long gone. The ruin itself wasn't very interesting because it was clearly recent (the stones were set with mortar) but the stones themselves stood out as different from ANY of the construction materials used anywhere else at the Hacienda. Most stone wall construction here uses river rock. These are cut stone. The only more or less squared off stones used in the Hacienda construction are for stone steps and they are much rougher than the stones in the mill. Further, there is no quarry that I know of anywhere near here where these stones could have been cut from. Somebody went to the trouble to bring these here and it likely wasn't to build some ordinary grain mill. These stones were probably recovered from some earlier building, likely one that existed before the Hacienda was built (which uses completely different construction techniques). The local pre-Inka tribes would not have done it, but the Inka themselves could have. We have an XRF here that could be used to analyze some of these stones in place. There is published data on Inka stone sources that might shed some light on the origin of these stones.
Sandy believes that she has the Hacienda map properly geo-referenced. Tomorrow, I'll dragoon a student to help me tape out some arbitrary distances between structures to see if it works.
I tossed and turned for hours last night trying to figure out why the map was not working. I didn't come up with any conclusions. I knew I had to wait until I did some tape measurements in the morning to determine what was wrong.
It turns out that Sandy was available to help me tape out some test dimensions. We used a 50 meter tape and measured some features of the Hacienda and then measured them with ArcGIS. The results were horrible. We then did the geo-referencing again with the GPS data that I took last night and it was actually worse. Something was wrong.
One of the measurements that we taped out was along the road on the north edge of the Hacienda. According to the surveyor's map, this road is parallel to the equator. Two of our reference points were also along this road and the GPS units confirmed that the road was parallel to the equator. So instead of referencing the map to many GPS measurements, all with some error, we picked one and then created a new point 143.2 meters west of the reference point, the distance we measured down the road to the corner of the Hacienda property. THEN the map rotated properly and appeared to scale properly. The other measurements that we made inside the Hacienda property were close anyway. The surveyor's map had a grid on it that I determined was on 100 meter centers as the map wasn't actually marked with a scale ruler, just a 1:1000 indicator. The grids were 10 cm apart on the original map which is 100 meters when scaled by 1000. The 1:25,000 section of the map also scaled properly when compared to an official 1:50,000 topo map so I was pretty sure that the map was printed at the right scale. When we measured this grid in the east-west direction, we got 100 meters. When we measured the grid in the north-south direction, we got 90 meters. The photo of the map wasn't square. I checked the original map and it was square. I also checked the good, but lower contrast, photo that I had shot by hand with Sandy's camera and it was square. So we imported that map and geo-referenced it in the same way, with one GPS point and one derived point. THEN the grid measured 100 meters in both directions AND the measurements that we made within the Hacienda were also correct. We did find one "error" on the surveyor's map that caused us problems yesterday. The length of the stable building was about 5 meters too long according to the map. This was also obvious from the angle of a measurement that we made from the church to the end of the stable building. It is possible that the stable building had been modified in the 15 years since the map was made.
In any event, it took 2 days, but we have a good map to use as a reference site map for the Hacienda. We can trace the build divisions, build spaces and units on another layer in ArcGIS to document the work done at the Hacienda. That will happen this afternoon.
Sandy and I took our Blue Digital USB microscope and her computer up to the mill site and took photos of the texture of four distinct types of cut stone. Then Sandy settled down in the lab to document the photos. I got on the Cangahua bus to Cayambe to purchase provisions. It was an uneventful trip and I was back in about 90 minutes.
This is an early post as some stuff has happened already. It is the beginning of the last week of the project and it was group photo day at the Casa. We got up early, got breakfast at the Hacienda and then hitched a ride to Cangahua. The photo shoot was just getting organized so we took our places on the church steps and got shot.
I went back to the Casa to look for our laundry and, lo and behold, it was there. This is the last batch of laundry that we will have done here, we'll be taking home dirty clothes.
The car we rode to the Casa in was staying there for the day and the other trucks headed back to the Hacienda were loaded with workers so Sandy and I took the bus back.
Today is Minga day in the local communities. A Minga is a community gathering for some group project such as picking up trash to doing some community construction work. The project is attending Mingas in two communities, one near Cangahua and one further south near Quitoloma. Sandy has walked up to the nearby town of Buena Esperanza to see what is going on there. I have elected to remain behind and try to catch up on the sleep that I didn't get a lot of last night.
All this happened before a lot of people get breakfast.
Later in the day, Sandy and I will meet with one of the directors to go over the map data that he has added and try to get that installed in ArcGIS.
We got the info that we needed from the director and Sandy started to work. This will be mostly her job as she has decided to do it all directly in ArcGIS. She has a copy on her computer, I don't have it, nor have I ever used the software.
Sandy also went to spend a couple of hours at the Minga picking up trash and otherwise cleaning up the town next to the Hacienda. It wore her out. We're getting too old for this kind of stuff. I spent the day mostly relaxing.
We're off to dinner in a few minutes and then it'll be back to the room to get the fire going and then we'll turn in early. Tomorrow is an off day but Sandy will probably finish up the work in ArcGIS.
We're starting our last week here. Today, the students are going to Oyachachi to visit the hot springs. We were there in 2009 and again two weeks ago on our own so that we don't want to go again. Instead, I will be taking it easy today and Sandy will likely finish the ArcGIS mapping work this morning. She made good progress yesterday in figuring out exactly how to do it.
Since I have an off day, I elected to do a little more documentation of the status of the wiring in the lab and of some of the project owned equipment for the benefit of the next guy that has to set this stuff up.
Printers are a continual problem. We have five of them in various states of functionality.
The project has a variety of PCs. Many of them work but since I don't do tech support for Windows, I don't have any individual data on them.
The AC power wiring of the lab is somewhat scary. I have written more about the details in my 2010 and 2011blogs. The wiring up to the power outlet is unchanged from previous years.
Since the power wires to the lab are ungrounded, the fact that there are two wire and "grounded" three wire cords and receptacles in the lab has no meaning at all. For safety, it would be good to add some kind of plug in GFI (Ground Fault Interruptor) following the two wire outlet but I could not find one in Cayambe.
What is really important are the two outlet strips plugged into the wall outlet. These two have built in circuit breakers such that a fault in the lab is protected by some kind of circuit breaker. The one at the breaker panel is too far away and MAY be the 60 amp breaker. The wiring from the lab to the panel would likely burn up before the 60 amp breaker tripped. One of the outlet strips has the overhead lamps plugged in. The other has the floor wiring plugged in so that the two circuits can be switched on and off separately. The switch on the wall is not wired. It simply activates an uninsulated cut off pair up in the choir bay. Just don't mess with the switch.
The floor wiring is a series of extension cords and outlet strips running down each wall to provide a power outlet near each work station. This is a kludge and the users have to be careful NOT to plug in too much stuff at one time. There are times when a 1600 watt hair drier is in use to help cure adhesives. This is about all the load that the whole floor circuit can take.
For an off day, I have been fairly busy. Sandy and I worked on the GIS maps some more, it is mostly done. The power went out before noon, this is Ecuador. The power has gone off several times, especially when it gets windy, which is often. A pickup load of folks went into Cayambe, I hitched a ride for some more diet Coke and empanadas. The signals were out in Cayambe but the power in the Gran Aki was on as well as in the bakery. Then the power in Cayambe went out again. It's still out at the Hacienda as of this writing.
Sandy sorted through the project archives for more obsidian samples. There will be a load of artifacts being submitted to the INCP for export approval. This obsidian will be in the batch.
Life goes on here without power. Most people cook with bottled gas, the Hacienda does too, so that the kitchen still works. The internet is down, but I have learned to live with spotty internet. It is very slow even when it works. If the power is out after sundown, then we'll do with firelight and flashlights. Our heat is a wood fire but it is really not cold enough to require one. The computer batteries will eventually run down, then we'll do without until power is restored. We could be without hot water because the water heaters are electric but we can get stinky or take cold showers in a real pinch.
The power came back on at about 1700 for 5 seconds or so then went off again. Finally as we were having a dinner by candle light in the dining room, the power came back on and stayed on at about 1900. Problems solved.
Sandy wanted to stay in bed awhile this morning so she had a breakfast in bed of empanadas and diet Coke. I went off to a regular breakfast in the dining room. When I got there, I was severely scolded by El Gato (the cat) that she wanted to be fed. Sandy had been feeding her twice a day. So I walked back to the room and got some dry cat food. By the time I got back, the cat was gone. I left some food out and went in to breakfast. When I got out, the cat was gone but so was most of the cat food. There is going to be one pissed off cat here when we leave in less than a week.
The arrangements for returning the students and staff to Quito are in flux but the overall plan is that there will be several busses going to the airport on Saturday. We will be on one of them. We will take a cab to whatever hotel that Sandy books for Saturday night and then take a cab back to the airport early on Sunday to catch our 0905 flight south to Lima and then back to LA. The last leg will be an 8 hour, 40 minute flight.
The power went off again about noon and didn't come back on for hours. It has been pretty windy the last few days and the outages could be from downed power lines or it could be power rationing. We just don't know. In any event, it put a crimp in some of our plans.
We took a field trip to Pukarito this afternoon to look at the unit that Sandy had used as a source for samples for her Master's thesis. The context of the unit has become less clear as the excavation of the unit continues but she still found a very pronounced change in the source of the obsidian at the deeper levels of the unit. However, the sourcing of the ceramics that was associated with the change in the obsidian was becoming less clear.
Pukarito is a fairly large hill with lots of walls and structures all over the top and sides. The site was likely occupied by Inca and pre-Inca tribes at various times but the actual timeline is still mostly a mystery. Years more work may shed more light on what happened up there.
As we were coming down the hill, I took this photo of Sandy with two levels of walls in the background. These are clearly constructed walls, probably parts of the defensive structures of the site.
Sandy needs to go to the INCP (the government agency that manages the handling of cultural sites and artifacts) in Quito tomorrow to apply for permission to export some more obsidian samples. There is still a lot to do here before we can go so that we'll probably take an early bus, like we did on the Mindo trip to get into Quito early enough to be at the INCP at 0900. We'll need the time this evening to get prepared for the meeting at the INCP. We'll then arrange for a hotel room in Quito for Saturday night and then run back to the La Ofelia bus terminal for the return to the Hacienda.
Today was a long day. It started at 0500 with the alarm. We were out by the road to catch a bus at 0530. The purpose of the trip was to be in Quito at the INPC at 0900 but I figured that we'd get there at 0730 and just wait for our appointment.
We got on the first bus that came by. As the door opened, the driver said "Quito." I was a bit stunned because I was not expecting that there would be a single bus that went from Cangahua to Quito. However, this is the early commuter bus that runs every weekday. It saved us one transfer in the cold and dark.
Once at the La Ofelia bus terminal, we took a cab to Avenue 10 de Agusto and Cristobo Colon which is where the INPC is. It was 0728. We had a hour and a half to burn. Across the street was an internet cafe so we went in and got caught up on the internet. The connection was slower than the Hacienda's but at least it worked. At 0845, we walked back to the INPC building and went in. We found 3 another staff members trying to do the same thing, get approval to remove artifacts from Ecuador. Between 0900 and 1000, we managed to get all the artifacts boxed and sealed for transport. However, the approval letters had to be signed by the director of the INPC. We were told to come back at 1500 to get the letters.
This left us with 5 hours to burn in Quito. However, Sandy had a plan for some of that. The first thing we did was walk about 5 blocks to the Hotel EL Arupo and reserve a room for Saturday night. Then we caught a cab to the IGM get a digital map of the Oyacachi area. We got that. Then it was another short cab ride to the Abya Yala bookstore. This is clearly the MOST DANGEROUS place in Quito. Sandy does serious damage every time she walks in to that place. We then walked back to Foch Plaza in the Mariscal district and had an excellent Mexican lunch at Rodriguez. We "rented" a table for about two hours. We then walked back about 5 blocks to the internet cafe near the INPC and burned another hour until just about 1500. We went into the INPC to pick the approval letters, but it was "sorry", maybe manana. The INPC director, who had to sign the letters, was in meetings all day and didn't sign them. Sigh.... Somebody will have to make another trip to Quito to pick them up. We'll have to figure out who and when. We will call the INPC guy first to see if the letters are ready.
We then caught a cab back to the La Ofelia bus terminal and then a Cayambe bus back to the Cangahua road to make a connection to the local Cangahua bus back to the Hacienda.
Overall, were were gone about 12 hours and we were pretty tired by the time that we returned. I assembled the fire for tonight and signed us up for dinner at 1830.
Miracles do occur. After we left the INPC last night, the letters got signed and another staff member picked them up. He also got the permit for our field school to excavate. It's a little after the fact, but we got it. I made copies of both of them and brought them back to the Hacienda. We are good to go without having to go back to Quito until Saturday to stay one more night and then catch our flight on Sunday.
After the INPC stuff got straightened out, my day got more interesting. Our staff photographer managed to get her computer infected with the RECYCLER virus and it did what RECYCLER does, it provided the appearance that it nuked all of her photos for the project and her personal photos from 2012 and 2011. These were all stored on a 500 GB USB disk. This is a big deal for this project as this same virus also wiped out the 2008 project photos. There were some really unhappy folks around here.
Nobody wanted to plug the disk into another PC, even if it had updated antivirus software on it so I plugged it into this MacBook knowing that there is nothing out there that going to bother this Mac. There is some limited Mac trojan software in circulation but one has to have an unpatched Java installation AND provide an administrator password to get infected. Further, that infection is easy to remove after the fact.
I was able to determine that her photos were still on the disk, but just in hidden folders. Since it was an NTFS disk, it was read only to a Mac. I could not unhide the folders on the source disk since it was read only, so I used the command line interface to copy the hidden folders (which I could see in Terminal). About half of them went onto my Desktop, the other half on to one of Sandy's external disks. I was then able to unhide them with another CLI command and then view the contents with QuickLook in the Finder. After the photographer confirms that the missing stuff is found, I'll nuke her disk, reformat it as FAT32 and then copy all that stuff back. That should happen tomorrow morning.
One of the other staff members had downloaded her camera's SD card into the photographer's computer and it was infected too. I extracted about 600 photos from her SD card, then reformatted it and reloaded them back to the SD card. The photos are back on her camera too.
This is why I use Macs. I just don't have to worry about this stuff in Mac-land. We are probably going to do a pre-emptive virus scan on all the project computers and work on the photographer's computer to clean it up in the morning. We will also recommend that all the students and staff with PCs do a virus scan. We think that the infection is contained, but it is hard to tell with all the USB jump drives moving around this place.
It has been very windy all night and so far during the day. Most of the serious wind is not at ground level. The 100' tall trees around the Hacienda are blowing all over and some serious branches, aka widow-makers, have fallen into the pasture outside our room.
I finished with the photographer's infected disk. All her files were copied off, the disk was reformatted, and then the files were copied back on. She found a copy AVG and is scanning her computer. I tried to put Microsoft Security Essentials on it, but the internet died about halfway through the download and it is still down. We had one infected SD card in a camera that is fixed. Everybody has been warned to scan their own computers but I don't know how many actually took action.
I went up to the bodega (storeroom) this morning and found that the missing padlock had reappeared and the room was locked. I had a key so I unlocked it and started cleaning it up. Then another senior staff took over and dragooned several junior staff to carry dig supplies up there (screens, legs, buckets, picks, shovels and other implements of destruction). The artifacts, the really heavy part, won't be ready to go up until tomorrow. They are all in plastic stackable crates and those will go up in the back of a pickup truck. When the activity in the lab has shut down, I'll disassemble the electrical stuff and put it into another crate to go up. The printers will go up there too, but we'll probably chuck the two that just do not work. The computers and power stuff that is in room 1, our computer room, will go in crates and be taken back to Quito for storage. We then have to put the room 1 furniture back in place and turn it back into a hotel room again. The library (room 2) where we have all the project documents will also go back to Quito.
Sandy says that our bus to Quito leaves Cangahua at 1000 and will arrive here about 5 min later..... on Ecuador time. I don't know if we have to meet it at the street or it will come in here. In any event, that will give us all day tomorrow to get the lab clean up finished, get packed and ready to go. If everything happens on schedule (unlikely) then we should be at the El Arupo sometime after noon on Saturday. We have one night there and then fly home on Sunday. I am ready to go home.
I wandered into the lab to look for the roll of duct tape that I bought weeks ago and it was a flurry of activity. The crates are being hauled up one at a time while the pickup truck sits outside. We don't know where the key is so the transfer is being done the hard way.
The photographer managed to disinfect her computer so we think that we've nipped this infection.
Dinner was a big party at the Hacienda with the whole project here for a mixed grill bar-b-que dinner. A huge bonfire was lit in the plaza (traditionally to drive off evil spirits). The alcohol fueled party apparently went on for quite a while, but Sandy and I just crashed.
The internet is still down as of this morning but at least the problem is known. Yesterday morning the wind was pretty strong and it blew down the mast that supported the microwave link antenna. It probably won't come up again until noon or so on an Ecuador time scale. If it is not up today, the upload of this blog will be delayed until tomorrow when Sandy and I get to our hotel in Quito.
Sandy and I will be leaving on a 1000 bus tomorrow morning. It is supposed to stop here at the Hacienda to pick us up, we'll see what really happens. If that connection is missed, there is one more bus at 1400.
I made an emergency run into Cayambe to get an HP printer cartridge. The only other working printer was an Epson which was getting low in black ink and most of the project computers can't print to due to lack of drivers. Sandy and I were using our Macs to print Word and .pdf files because we did have Epson drivers. Now that the HP is working again, the rest of the computers can be used to print when needed.
The lab is packed up and moved out. I disassembled the electrical stuff in the lab and packed it in a crate to go into storage on site. The computers were still in use to do the final bits of paperwork until late afternoon. That room came apart late in the afternoon just after most of the staff and students return to the Casa for the last night.
As of 1630, everything that wasn't going to Quito was packed in the bodega. That will get packed to go at about 1800. However, we are basically done except for the final part of our personal packing (about 10 minutes worth).
By 1800 today, the internet came back up. At first it was flakey and over a period of a few minutes it became as stable as it gets here. I suspect that the microwave link was being realigned and was going in and out over as the tech was aiming it. In any event, I was able to get my email, upload the last entry and do a little web surfing.
We are basically off duty now. Even though there is a big party going on up at the Casa, we elected not to go. There is just too much commotion up there and a lot of folks are clearly planning to drink a lot based on the number of bottles of wine that have been purchased. There is also a big party going on in Buena Esperanza. We can hear it from inside our room nearly a mile away. The festival of San Pedro happens on the last weekend of July every year and it is quite a big deal here.
It's very early and the internet is up. I am waiting for breakfast. Sandy is still sleeping./p>
We travel to Quito today by bus so we will be out of internet range until we get there.
Tomorrow is an airline day, all day. It is also our 34th wedding anniversary. By the time we get home, we'll be too tired to celebrate.
Our bus came right on time and it was nearly full, so full that much of the larger luggage was stacked on top of the bus. Our suitcases went there too. We were told a couple of days ago that all the busses would go to the airport but the driver took a route back that indicated to me that he wasn't headed to the airport. Instead, this bus load went directly to the Mariscal district to a street right behind the Magic Bean, only a few blocks from the Al Arupo Hotel. We walked it and got there just after noon.
After settling in for a few minutes, we went out for lunch then walked to the SuperMaxi for a day's worth of victuals and 5 bottles of Ole Jalapeno Gold hot sauce. Sandy also found the folding cloth bags that we looked for the last time and did not see. She bought a pile of them. These bags are nice because they are strong, have good handles and fold into a very small pouch. After the walk back to the hotel, we settled down for the afternoon.
The plan forward is to stay here until dinner, go out once, come back in and crash. The alarm goes off at 0530 so we'll miss breakfast here which doesn't start until 0730. We'll catch a cab to the airport and then fly home via Lima, Peru, a 2.5 hour flight south that we have to make up in the 2.5 hour leg to LAX.
We got up at 0530, got packed and were out of the hotel in a half hour. A taxi came by virtually immediately and we were delivered to the airport. After waiting at the head of the line for nearly an hour, we got checked in and then made it through immigration and security. We are sitting at Gate A1 with an hour and a half to spare.
The flights were long but uneventful. The first thing that we both noticed when we reached Lima is that an empty Coke bottle that Sandy was carrying was crushed flat. The air felt heavy and wet as Lima is at sea level.
The 2nd flight as a 4 movie, 2 meal flight. However, it went to plan as well.
We caught a cab to home and found Inti and Sandy's car already here. We spent a couple of hours getting settled in and waited for 2100 to go to bed to try to resist the jet lag. It didn't work. I was awake at 0500 local time anyway.
We came back with all our luggage (a first for an Ecuador trip) and all our electronics intact with the exception of a USB microscope that Sandy donated to a local school. Neither of us got sick at all while we were there, also unusual. Most of the folks at the field school experienced some form of Atahualpa's revenge, we didn't.
Inti and Sandy have made up, but the cat won't get near me. It'll take a few days for her to reintegrate to our household.
The plan for today is to go to Costco at lunch and stock back up on food which we ate down before we left. I might also buy myself a new computer today....
This page has been accessed times since June 25, 2012
© 2012 George Schreyer
Created Jun 25, 2012
Last Updated July 30, 2012