select entries.user_id, entries.title, entries.latitude, entries.longitude, entries.description, entries.flickr_thumb_url, entries.entry_date, entries.type, entries.entry_identifier, entries.id from entries, trip_users where trip_users.trip_id=5 and trip_users.user_id=entries.user_id and entries.active='yes' and entries.trip_id=5 order by entries.entry_date desc

Ecuador, Fall 2012

January 3 - May 1, 2012

The Ecuador program offers rich paths to discovery in the realms of nature and culture. Students live with families in Cuenca, where they learn about everyday life, patterns of ritual and celebration, gender norms, and many aspects of culture invisible to outsiders.

Mornings find students studying Spanish at Fundación Amauta, the school with whom Lewis and Clark has a long-standing relationship. Classes at Amauta include grammar, conversation, and interactive learning experiences in Spanish. These include a painting murals with local children, exchanges with students from the University of Azuay, and a visit to the 10 de Agosto market. Here, they choose from one of the many varieties of potatoes and local produce, and learn to make typical Ecuadorian foods to contribute to a fabulous collective lunch.

Afternoons, students explore Andean cultural identity and cross-cultural communication with Tamara Trownsell, a long-time Cuenca resident. They become participant-observers of life in Cuenca through fieldwork in the city, visits with a curandera – a traditional healer – at the market, and other cultural activities. On alternate afternoons, our group studies Ecuador’s five main ecosystems with Ernesto Arbeláez, biology instructor and director of the Zoológico Bioparque de Cuenca Amaru. They photograph Andean bears and porcupines while listening to lectures about Ecuador’s staggering biodiversity. Research projects focus on the ecosystems’ components, location, range, the interaction between human cultures and natural systems, and the main threats to the survival of both.

Though based in Cuenca for most of the semester, the program also includes academic travel to the southern Amazon Basin (the Oriente), an exploration of the capital Quito and surrounding areas, and a visit to the famous Ingapirca ruins and a Cañari community in the highlands two hours from Cuenca.

Students in this year’s program include majors in psychology, art, English, biochemistry and biology. In their writing during orientation, each expressed hopes and some fears about studying in another country. Living overseas, as many Lewis and Clark students know, can be a life-changing experience. Amauta Director Mayra Cordoso reinforces this possibility. She says, “My main hope is that students, after living in Ecuador, see the world from another point of view, that this experience offers them new perspectives for making big decisions in their lives.”

Our photos here chronicle some of our group’s remarkable discoveries.

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Lindsey's Blog
April 9, 2012

El Río Tomebamba

There are four rivers in Cuenca, although only two cut through the town in a way that has truly shaped the town’s infrastructure. Only one has really impacted Cuenca’s current geograph, as the Tomebamba currently acts as the dividing line between old Cuenca, and new Cuenca. (more...)

tags: Culture, Cultural Encounters: Student Blog

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Another day at the bioparque #3
April 3, 2012

During our last volunteer morning at the Amaru Bioparque, Ernesto and his wife Amanda came tearing up their driveway with a surprise in the back of the truck: a sea turtle. In order to save the creature's life, we had to ride with her in the back all the way to the reptile zoo to get her in water. Sea turtles are illegally sold in Ecuadorian markets for meat and blood, since their blood is considered to be an aphrodisiac.

tags: Environment, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Domingo de Ramos
April 1, 2012

The procession moved slowly down the cobblestone street of Cuenca making its way towards Catedral Nueva for Palm Sunday. This Sunday marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Semana Santa (Holy Week) which means processions, Catholic mass, Bible reflection, and fanesca - a dense soup with twelve types of beans (to represent the twelve apostles of Jesus) and a fish (to represent Jesus). (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Semana Santa

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Watching the Traffic
March 30, 2012

Riding in the back of a pickup truck has become a regular experience for me when I volunteer at Amaru Zoológico (the bioparque) in Cuenca, Ecuador. However, this time I was sharing the bed with a mid-sized Green Back Sea Turtle. The moment of excitement of being so close to the beautiful animal was quickly overcome by a force of glum and melancholy. The back of a pick-up truck at 2500 meters above the sea level is not where a marine turtle is supposed to be. (more...)

tags: Environment, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: Paccha, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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From swimming to soup
March 29, 2012

This green sea turtle was taken from his home on the Ecuadorian coast to be sold at the Cuencan Feria Libre market. Illegal trafficking of exotic animals for human pleasure is a huge problem throughout Ecuador and South America. Sea Turtles are desired as a delicacy, for their incredible shells, and for their blood that is believed to hold many powers. Luckily this turtle was discovered in time and was healthy enough to return to the coast the day it was found.

tags: Environment, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Gringas in the locker room!
March 28, 2012

During what would be our last Cuencan soccer game at the "estadio," a group of us ladies challenged one another to an autograph competition. After waiting outside of the locker room for the men to stop showering, we were finally given the go ahead to enter. Inside, we followed small children around to all the "best" players. In the end, a couple of us were interviewed by newspaper reporters. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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A River in the Road
March 26, 2012

The bus slows down, the doors open, and the bus driver wishes me “buena suerte” (good luck) as I jump off the bus into a calf-deep river pretending to be my main street. Ecuador has been experiencing devastating rainfalls and floods all over the country. People are paddling through the streets. Many have lost their houses. Crops have drowned, and staple produce items have more than doubled in price. (more...)

tags: Culture, Homestays/Family Life

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Exotic Street Dancers of Cuenca
March 25, 2012

Exotic Street Dancers of Cuenca

The light turned red and the traffic screeched to a halt. A woman in her mid-twenties started a rolling drumbeat and a man dressed in all black danced to the center of the road. He was carrying a human-sized doll that was charcoal black with a red, frilly skirt and an African-identified red hair wrap around her head. The doll’s feet were tied to the tops of the dancer’s shoes. When he moved, she followed, like a shadow. (more...)

tags: Culture, Streetlife/Graffiti, Cultural Encounters: Student Blog

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Permanent words
March 24, 2012

After the indigenous marches on behalf of "el agua, la vida, y la dignidad" - water rights, life and dignity - passed through Cuenca, various graffiti carried the residue of the words chanted through the streets the day before.

tags: Culture, Streetlife/Graffiti

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Piggy Portrait
March 24, 2012

Most Ecuadorian mercados (markets) are composed of local vendors selling local produce. Pigs, such as this one, litter the valleys, roadsides, and backyards of Ecuador. After visiting a local animal market in Cañar where mature pigs sell for nearly 500 dollars each, it is apparent that these common animals are a vital source of food and income for many individuals.

tags: Culture

location: El Tambo, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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New Friends
March 24, 2012

Upon arriving in a small community just south of El Tambo, four other students and I were challenged to a soccer game against some local teenagers. After a small wager and some informal introductions, we learned why Latin America is famous in terms of fútbol (soccer). After a good winding, we admitted defeat and handed over the winnings. I now know not to make bets when it comes to Ecuadorian soccer games, even if the opposing team is both half my size and half my age.

tags:

location: Juncal, Canar, Ecuador

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Mama Michi 2012
March 23, 2012

We spent a weekend in Cañar, two hours from Cuenca up in the highlands. Our host, Judy Blankenship introduced us to Mama Michi, a curandera with whom she has worked for many years. Judy accompanied Mama Michi to Washington D.C. several years ago when she was invited by the Smithsonian Instituion to represent Ecuador's indigenous people.

tags: Medicine & Traditional Healing, Indigenous Groups

location: Honorato Vásquez, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Wallpa Kurku: Quichwa for The Pioneer Log
March 21, 2012

Our group of eleven students is split among three different Spanish classes that vary in activity and languge level. However, some of our major projects remain similar; each class had to make a mural of a newspaper, write articles, find photos, and lay out and name the periodical.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Class, Politics, & Social Issues

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Cañari Curandera
March 20, 2012

An array of tinctures, candles, an ordinary household spray bottle, and a miniature Virgin Mary lay idle just minutes before a traditional Andean limpieza (“cleansing”). The curandera (“healer”) utilizes a monte—a boquet of mountain plants—a raw egg, a candle, and a unique blend of alcohol and herbs which cleanse her numerous daily customers, both mestizo and indigenous. (more...)

tags: Medicine & Traditional Healing, Indigenous Groups

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Cañar and Carrots
March 20, 2012

The remnants of a carrot soup served to nearly 200 indigenous people on March 15th, 2012 during their Quito-bound protest march for land and water rights. They utilized the Nuncanchi Wasi (Quichua for “our house”) building located in central Cañar, an old mestizo hospital donated to the indigenous Cañari population, as a resting place.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Environment

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Not at the end of the road yet
March 18, 2012

Wondering around the busy Sunday market in the small town of Cañar, I noticed an alleyway full of supplies. The tires here have been remodeled into buckets, baskets, ropes, and even shoes. The creative use of old tires not only prevents the build up of waste but also allows people to get more use out of their limited resources.

tags: Environment

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Through a Different Kind of Looking Glass
March 18, 2012

Buses are one of the best ways to see the countryside as they traverse roads that wind through the hills and towns, such as this one between Cuenca and Cañar. There are always people waiting for a bus coming from the other direction, both those dressed in indigenous clothing and popular brands such as Abercrombie & Fitch. Another common sight is the churches that stand proudly on hills or among houses that seem to cluster around as though listening to a sermon. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Architecture, Canari

location: Azogues, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Is this real life?
March 17, 2012

As we walked along the long and winding mountain road connecting the city of Tambo to the ruins of Ingapirca, I could hardly believe that these breathtaking views were part of a place that truly exists. I am happy to say that not only does Ecuador really exist, but I, along with ten other students, can now call her a friend. We have had the privilege of meeting Ecuadorians from many walks of life, and through these relationships our eyes have been opened to new ways of living. (more...)

tags: Culture, Environment

location: Ingapirca, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Gringos can
March 17, 2012

"Psssst. Psssst. Come play soccer with us. Just ten minutes?" How can you say no to this, especially when those asking are four preteens wearing grins the size of the fresh watermelon you had for breakfast? So five gringos broke a sweat and lost a game of fútbol. The victors were kind enough to take this photo with us, amidst a lot of teasing in Spanish and Quichua. By this point, we are all used to being identified as gringos in Ecuador, but this was different. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Ingapirca, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Heart Door
March 17, 2012

On our walk to El Tambo, a historical Inca rest stop, we found ourselves overwhelmed by the lush, rolling terrain and abundant fields. We came across this old stone structure with a charcoal sketch adorning the door that read “this is my heart” in Spanish. Was the artist literally referring to the entrance to his or her home? Or were they expressing their deep commitment to a loved one? Their reason is left up to the imagination.

tags: Culture, Architecture

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Ingapirca Restroom Sign
March 17, 2012

On my way to the restroom at the Ingapirca cultural center, I noticed this sign pointing towards the restrooms. When the people of this area look around, they see men wearing ponchos and women wearing polleras (an indigenous style of skirt), so it seems obvious that a representative human being would display this appearance. "Restroom" is written is Spanish, English, and Quichua. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Ingapirca, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Cable Crossing
March 17, 2012

After scrambling down a steep slope below the Inca ruins at Ingapirca, we came across our first obstacle, a roaring river. We soon located a red metal cable cart and began to shuttle ourselves one by one across with a rope pulley. When the last of our group crossed, a woman in a purple shawl with a baby strapped on her back approached us. She had a prominent scowl and immediately demanded that we pay the $1 toll to use her cable cart. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Ingapirca, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Charging alpaca
March 17, 2012

As we walked around the Inca ruins in Coyoctur, Cañar, ths alpaca charged toward us with incredible speed. We later found out that we were not supposed to get close to these animals. Before the Spanish conquest, alpacas used to be an important part of Incan life. They were used for transportation, food, clothing, and other necessities. The population of alpacas has decreased dramatically but recently, the indigenous people of Cañar are trying to bring them back.

tags: Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Inca-ism
March 17, 2012

After the Spaniards conquered the native people of Ecuador, they clumped them all into the category of "Indio". The Cañari people allowed themselves to be referred to as Incas, for although the Inca lived in Ecuador for less than a century, they were thought of as a very powerful people. The ruins of Ingapirca are often referred to as Inca ruins, but many of these remains are Cañari constructions. This is an ancient aqueduct, and a part of the ruins that is truly Incan.

tags: Culture, Class, Politics, & Social Issues, Indigenous Groups

location: Ingapirca, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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A Place to Rest
March 16, 2012

The mountain town of Cañar, like most other communities in the world, has a place for their dead. These graves are already occupied and covered in silk flowers or other offerings from loved ones that will resist the rains that are common here. In other parts of the cemetery there are latticed structures four or five layers tall that await the coffins of those people whose families can afford space in the cemetery. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Architecture

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Cultural Views On Nature
March 16, 2012

Throughout my life, I have always argued that Latin American cultures have something figured out that we don’t in the United States. I was never able to articulate what this something was but I always felt it. For the past two months, I have been living in Ecuador and taking a class on contemporary Andean issues with a strong anthropological focus. (more...)

tags: Medicine & Traditional Healing, Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Environment, Cultural Encounters: Student Blog

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Reading Eggs
March 16, 2012

A "limpieza" is a cleansing process very commonly performed by traditional healers in Ecuador. Many parents bring their children to the market on Tuesdays and Fridays to have a limpieza. Depending on the type one gets, the market healers use a bundle of herbs to rid the body of negative energy. Sometimes cuy (guinea pig) or eggs are used as a part of the process to diagnose the patient. How the healers are able to read the eggs, I am not sure. (more...)

tags: Medicine & Traditional Healing, Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Mural Painting
March 15, 2012

Our Spanish classes visited a guarderia (daycare center) named "Los Polluelitos" in the northern region of Cuenca. We helped paint a mural on the side of their school building surrounding the recess area. The children, ranging from age two to eight, were given the job of adorning the mural with their handprints. Once their designated area was filled, most children wandered off to wash their hands and go off to play. (more...)

tags: Culture, Art

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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No mineria
March 13, 2012

Starting March 8th, the march of Water, Life and Dignity of the Peoples left the south of Ecuador and are heading towards the capital Quito(they are expecting to reach Quito on March 22nd). The march is a protest against FTA regulations and against a recent contract that President Correa signed with a mining company. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups, Environment

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Gualaceo Market
March 11, 2012

You don’t know what sensory overload means until you’ve been to an open-air market. Gualaceo, at an altitude of 2,449 meters and 20 miles east of Cuenca, is known as a market town. This square in front of the church probably has more types of fruits and vegetables than my Safeway at home has in a year. You want bananas? Take your pick – small, medium, large, green, or maybe even their firmer cousin, the plantain. (more...)

tags: Culture, Food

location: Gualaceo, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Animal Origins
March 10, 2012

In the U.S. I’m a vegetarian but here in Ecuador I have had to manage an extreme influx of meat to my diet. Ecuador does not have a large industrial meat system like the U.S. Most of the meat in the markets here is sold by the individuals who raised the animal. At first seeing meat that so closely resembles the animal, such as these cuy (guinea pigs) on sale at the market in Gualaceo, was jarring. They aren't the slabs wrapped in plastic that appear in U.S. supermarkets. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Gualaceo, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Back to Childhood
March 10, 2012

Three gringas huddle excitedly inside the cage, waiting for the ride to begin. One was lost due to the intensity of the double duty ferris wheel. We have stumbled upon an old but incredibly colorful theme park in Gualaceo. Kids fill the park after Sunday church, carnival music blasts, and rides cost a dollar or less The dragon boat begins to sway, and it’s no joke. My friends hold on for their lives as they are swung side-to-side, and shaken mercilessly without seatbelts.

tags: Culture, Streetlife/Graffiti

location: Gualaceo, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Another day at Amaru 2...
March 9, 2012

Rain or shine, the animals of the Amaru Zoological Bioparque will always take the fresh fruits and vegetables offered to them by the volunteers. Amaru's director, our biology professor Ernesto fills up his truck bed with the finest fruits and vegetables and chickens at least once a day and feeds all the animals in his huge bioparque on the hill.

tags:

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Another day at Amaru...
March 9, 2012

A majority of our time is spent with our biology professor, Ernesto Arbelaez, who owns and runs two different zoos within Cuenca. On Fridays, a slew of students act as his assistants, feeding bears, birds and monkeys, scrubbing turtle shells with toothbrushes, shopping for live chickens at the market to feed to the crocodile, or in this case pressure hosing the snapping turtles' pond and shells, since they are too dangerous to scrub with toothbrushes.

tags:

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Vida Para Yasuní
March 9, 2012

Yasuní National Park in the northeast of Ecuador has been named one of the most biodiverse hotspots in the world, whith more amphibian species that all of the United States and Canada combined. It also contains an estimated 20% of Ecuador’s oil reserve.  Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa has presented the Yasuní-ITT initiative, which proposes that other countries pay Ecuador to not drill for oil. (more...)

tags: Culture, Environment, Streetlife/Graffiti, Ecosystems: Tropical Forest

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Meet the Páramo
March 9, 2012

Cajas National Park, located just 45 minutes from Cuenca, is one of the most breathtaking places I have visited. Ranging from 3,150 to 4,450 meters, Cajas is covered almost exclusively in the páramo ecosystem which is characterized by paja, dry grass, and a cold, humid climate. Although the surrounding landscape is exceptional, the most important aspect of the páramo is located under your feet: the soil. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Market day in Cañar
March 7, 2012

Sunday is the biggest market day in Cañar and people fill the streets of this small town.  It’s astonishing to see the transformation from Saturday to Sunday. Saturday is preparation day when people wash clothes, shower, and get their materials ready for the Sunday market.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Indigenous Groups, Food, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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The indigenous rainbow
March 6, 2012

Throughout Ecuador the rainbow is used to represent the unification of Indigenous groups. It represents people of diverse backgrounds bound together in a movement to advance Indigenous rights. This rainbow painted on the side of a building was used by a female mayoral candidate running in a local election a few years ago in Cañar.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture, Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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The face in the mountains
March 6, 2012

Can you see the face? We saw this face in the rocks when we visited the Cañari and Incan ruins in Ingapirca, outside of Cañar. Though you can see where Incan architecture was used to mask over the Cañar ruins, it is unknown whether or not the face on the side of the mountain was carved by one of these groups or is a natural formation. Nonetheless, the Ingapirca ruins are considered the largest and most noteworthy ruins of Ecuador.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Environment, Architecture, Flora & Fauna, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Homes in Cañar
March 6, 2012

Historically the houses in Cañar were made of adobe and the roofs of tile in order to retain heat and accommodate the varying climates in Ecuador. However, with increased migration from Cañar to places like Spain and the United States over the last ten years, remittances have been used to build newer, larger houses out of cement. Some houses go unfinished inside without bathrooms, electricity or even families living in them. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Homestays/Family Life, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Is Your Mama a Llama?
March 6, 2012

To survive at high altitudes, such as the páramo, with low amounts of oxygen, animals such as llamas and alpacas have more red-blood cells per volume of blood than any other animal. This allows them to increase their oxygen intake and decrease how quickly oxygen is dispersed throughout their bodies so they do not suffer hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. Adaptations to harsh climates, such as this llama's, are present in every ecosystem and prove that nature cannot afford to be static. (more...)

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Paramo, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Where is Home?
March 5, 2012

Emigration From Ecuador

“How migration will change in the future is unclear, but we can be sure that events beyond the control of migrants - such as the international and domestic policies of the United States and the European Union as well as the rise of China in the global economy - will affect where and under what conditions.”

- Brad D. Jokisch and David Kyle, "Ecuadorian International Migration" in The Ecuador Reader, p. 358. (more...)

tags: Cultural Encounters: Student Blog

location: Sangay, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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The cemetery of Cañar
March 5, 2012

This is a traditional cemetery, located in the mountains outside of Cañar, an indigenous and mestizo town two hours from Cuenca. Loved ones are buried in niches on top of each other and side-by-side in marble and cement blocks. Families can keep the bodies in the niches as long as they can pay their annual fees for their space in the cemetery.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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La Vida Ecuatoriana
March 5, 2012

One of hundreds, this sun stained vegetable booth at the Diez de Agosto (10th of August) market in downtown Cuenca represents one of the difficult yet popular ways to make a living in Ecuador. Markets are divided into five sections, which often include meat, vegetables, alternative/natural medicine, fruit and cafeteria vendors, and  “panama hats” (for which Cuenca is internationally known, since their initial exportation in the 1940's). (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Ayampe
March 5, 2012

A group of students watch the sunset on the shores of Ayampe, a coastal town located on the Pacific Ocean in southern Ecuador. Ayampe and surrounding towns like it survive primarily through tourism and marine products such as fish, shrimp, and calamari (sqid). (more...)

tags:

location: Ayampe, Manabi, Ecuador

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Who ya gonna call?
March 3, 2012

One of the hardest things to understand in Ecuador is that the police are not automatically the nice guys. Here, they can be corrupt, even evoking fear and hatred in some Cuencanos. Often citizens choose not to contact the police in the event of a theft, car accident, or other criminal acts because police officers will sometimes take the side of whoever offers the largest bribe. (more...)

tags: Culture, Streetlife/Graffiti

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Isla de la Plata
February 23, 2012

Isla de la Plata (Island of Silver), also known as the poor person’s Galapagos, earned its name from both birds and pirates. The Blue Footed Boobies that are found in every corner of this bosque seco - dry forest - are the first reason for this island’s name. Their feces are metallic white. Since the island does not receive rain during most of the year, it appears to be covered in silver. The infamous pirate, Francis Bacon, also took credit for naming the island. (more...)

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Dry Forest

location: Santa Cruz, Galapagos, Ecuador

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Bananas!
February 23, 2012

Ecuador, one of the largest exporters of bananas in the world, has hundreds of different types of bananas - plantains, maduros, maduro verdes, red bananas, triangular bananas, and many more. Driving to Guayaquil on the coast, one can see endless fields of banana plantations. It was not until a few weeks ago that I found out bananas are one of Ecuador's largest export. Recenlty, I got fourteen bananas at the market for just a dollar. This minimum cost does not mean low quality. (more...)

tags: Culture, Environment, Food

location: Ayampe, Manabi, Ecuador

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The Blue-Footed Fool
February 23, 2012

Blue-Footed Boobies reign over Isla de la Plata (nicknamed "The Poor Man's Galapagos") with their pigmented feet and impressive adaptions. Their colored feet can range from light blue (usually in younger birds) to intense turquoise depending on food accessibility and abundance. To retrieve their prey, Blue-Footed Boobies will dive from as high as 25 meters (75 feet) into the ocean, hitting the water at 60 mph. (more...)

tags: Environment, Flora & Fauna

location: Manabi, Ecuador

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Fun in the Sun
February 23, 2012

Katy and Illana's spontaneous beach cartwheel session on Isla de la Plata is a perfect representation of how absolutely fantastic (and needed) our week full of sun, seafood, and friends was. We were on a break from classes in Cuenca during Carnaval, the beginning of Lent. We had just gotten off our boat after watching sea turtles glide below us. We were going snorkeling later that day, and after all our adventures on Isla de la Plata we were returning to cozy hammocks at our hostel in Ayampe. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Carnaval

location: Manabi, Ecuador

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Fish Eyes
February 21, 2012

The fish market in Puerto Lopez was winding down by the time we arrived mid-morning during the Carnaval. There were only four stands still open with a meager display of treasures from the sea. We approached one stand with two silver forty-pound fish enveloped by hungry flies. After scoping out our options, we selected one fish and watched the vendor fillet it, wrap the meat in a plastic bag and hand it over with a grin.

tags: Culture

location: Manglaralto, Guayas, Ecuador

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Mama Dog
February 17, 2012

Two things Cuenca has in abundance are dogs and graffiti. This house next to the Tomebamba River, which marks the edge of the historic center of Cuenca, boasts both. I don’t know what statement the artist of the spray-painted head was trying to make, but this mother dog’s statement was clear: stay away from my puppies. Her three balls of fur, big feet and wagging tails had clambered down the stairs to visit us during a bird-watching excursion. (more...)

tags: Culture, Art

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

view in Flickr


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Graffiti on the Tomebamba River
February 10, 2012

Artistic graffiti can found on nearly every building along the largest river in Cuenca, the Tomebamba. Graffiti is such a common sight, veiling almost every building and house in Cuenca that you could believe it was painted with the original building. Some graffiti is so intricate that it could be hanging in a modern art gallery here. Some is planned and painted carefully with vibrant colors, juxtaposed with others that appear to be a jumble of letters. (more...)

tags: Culture, Art, Streetlife/Graffiti

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Machete
February 9, 2012

After arriving in El Tiink, a Shuar village in the Amazon Basin, we were handed machetes by Herman, our Shuar host, to clear the rapidly growing vegetation from the pathway. It gives a strange sense of power to carry the two-foot long blade and slash away plants that are in the way. Carrying the blade also installed a greater sense of respect for the jungle. This jungle is so immense that one needs to enter well-armed.

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Bomboiza, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

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Shuar Darts
February 9, 2012

In the indigenous Shuar community of Tink, traditional forms of hunting, such as the use of poisonous darts, are still practiced. They paint the darts with venom from a poisonous vine found in the Amazonian rainforest outside of their community. The darts are then loaded into a bamboo shaft around eight feet long. The hunter then holds the bamboo rod up to their lips, aims at the target and exhales the full capacity of their lungs, hoping that it is strong enough to reach the victim.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Environment, Ecosystems: Tropical Forest, Shuar

location: Zamora, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Soldier Ants of the Tropical Rainforest
February 9, 2012

Ants, the soldiers of the forest, are the backbone of the Amazonian jungle outside of the Shuar community of Tink. They act as a bridge between the canopy and the forest floor because they climb the tree trunks to gather leaves, which they then transport to the forest floor for food. In the process, they allow the tree to continuously regenerate new leaves and build up the fertilizer layer on the forest floor. (more...)

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Tropical Forest, Flora & Fauna

location: Palanda, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Glass Frog
February 8, 2012

Glass Frogs are a recently discovered amphibian specie, endemic to Ecuadorian forests. Frogs are abundant and diverse in Ecuador; at least 447 different species have been identified. However, frogs are currently facing huge problems. Currently more than 32% of frog species are threatened with extinction. Frogs are pertinent bio-indicators for ecosystems. They breath through their skin so they are more susceptible to environmental changes. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Termite Nest in Zamora
February 8, 2012

What many in the United States would refer to as a common household pest is considered nothing less than a keystone species in the southern end of Ecuador. Like the ants of this area, termites decompose old vegetation, allow new vegetation to begin, and provide essential nitrogen to the forest. Many scientists believe the absence of these crawly creatures would result in the downfall of these forests. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Environment

location: Cumbaratza, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Orpendulum Nests
February 8, 2012

Orpendulum birds, similar to many other animals in the tropical rainforest, must invent mechanisms to avoid predation. They have evolved to weave a tear-drop shaped nest that hangs from tree branches. They create nests they must enter from below to reduce the possibility of snakes entering and stealing their eggs.

tags: Environment

location: El Tambo, Loja, Ecuador

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Hanging out to dry
February 7, 2012

Every house in this Shuar village along the Rio Zamora has a long laundry line full of clothing. After a heavy, nonstop downpour that lasted the entire afternoon, I understood why it takes a long time for clothing to dry in the tropical rain-forest. Even when it is not raining the humidity that remains in the air is enough to leave clothes feeling damp at best.

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Timbara, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Stranded
February 7, 2012

In the hills of Zamora, a river town located in the southern Oriente of Ecuador, highly saturated soils resulted in an enormous mudslide and a long wait for the debris to be cleared. This frequent occurrence prevents miners, travelers, and locals from commuting to work or simply passing through. The slide happened at midnight, but a lack of cell phone service, nearby landlines, and adequate government assistance resulted in help coming about 10 AM the next morning. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Zamora, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Birds of paradise
February 7, 2012

Birds of paradise are only one of the amazing flowers to be found in Ecuador’s forests. Ecuador’s five very different ecosystems host over 16,000 species of plants.

tags: Environment

location: Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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An Impromptu Shower
February 6, 2012

We’ve learned that being wet is to be expected in Ecuador, and this waterfall on the side of the road didn’t disappoint. (more...)

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Paramo, Ecosystems: Tropical Forest, Ecosystems: Cloud Forest

location: Loja, Loja, Ecuador

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Virgin of Cisne
February 5, 2012

Some walk for ten days to the small mountain town of Cisne to see the largest image of the Virgin Mary in Ecuador. The different colors of the burning candles represent different types of prayers. We arrived just in time to be blessed by the priest with holy water. For us, it was an one-time excursion, but to the woman lighting the candle, it was more meaningful.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions

location: El Cisne, Loja, Ecuador

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Papas, papas, papas, papas, y papas
February 5, 2012

In a market close to the Gates of the City in Loja, Ecuador, people spread out their goods wherever they find space. Decisions are hard to make with dozens of people selling similar foods and multiple kinds of the same food - five types of bananas, seven types of potatoes, three types of grapes, you name it--they've got it.

tags: Culture

location: Loja, Loja, Ecuador

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Pilgrimage
February 5, 2012

We rushed into the Cisne Cathedral in southern Ecuador just in time to join the swirling mob being sprinkled with holy water by a robed priest. How cool, I thought as I turned to examine the rest of the cathedral, I just had my first Catholic blessing. For me the trip to visit La Virgen del Cisne was another touristic side trip from Loja, something beautiful and historic to see on my adventure through Ecuador. But for many this cathedral is a place of desperation and hope. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions

location: El Cisne, Loja, Ecuador

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar
February 4, 2012

Outside of Saraguro, in one of the last remaining primary montane forests, a hatching of caterpillars feasts upon the remnants of leaves. The montane forest is the most endangered in Ecuador; only 3% remains. This forest is home to a high number of endemic species, all of whom are at risk of becoming extinct.

tags: Environment

location: Jimbilla, Loja, Ecuador

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Saraguro
February 4, 2012

The small, quaint and beautifully designed town of Saraguro is located just south of Cuenca. Today, the indigenous Saraguro speak both Quichua and Spanish. Strong cultural traditions and rules are practiced by all members of the community. Every person is required to attend school, choose a specialization in college, and work for one year in the community. Many people believe that the Saraguro descend from indigenous groups forcefully relocated from Peru. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: San Felipe de Oña, Azuay, Ecuador

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El Rio León
February 4, 2012

The Rio León, nestled between the hills of Saraguro and Susudel, is an essential part of el bosque seco (the dry forest). Poorly surveyed in terms of species, land control, and conservation, these grounds are littered with garbage yet rich in both endemic and native species. Some areas such as this forest haven’t been claimed as either public or private land. Who will maintain this forest and chart its diverse species? (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Hacienda Susudel, Azuay, Ecuador

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Chicos Saraguro
February 4, 2012

The town and forest of Saraguro hold the name of their people, who arrived in Ecuador in the 1500’s. The Saraguro community enjoys its own traditional soical structure, laws, and  typical style of dress. Women wear black dresses, while men maintian long black braids. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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On Guard
February 4, 2012

The desolate landscape in the Rio de Leon dry forest gives the illusion of no life, but turning over rocks and debris reveals the true level of activity in this desert. From land crabs to poisonous spiders, the landscape is home to hundreds of species. Many are extremely poisonous, which makes them efficient predators in this landscape of sparsely distributed food sources.

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Dry Forest

location: Catamayo, Loja, Ecuador

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Jesus y Jesus
February 3, 2012

As a predominately Catholic country, Ecuador has depictions of the Virgin Mary and Jesus scattered throughout shops, family mantels, and of course churches. In the storage room of a church in Susudel, we found paintings and various figures of Jesus Christ leaning against the wall, no longer in use. I was struck by the range of representations, from the bloody cruxification to the plump happy baby.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions

location: Progreso, Azuay, Ecuador

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Organic produce
February 3, 2012

Within the last decade, buying organic produce is what many Americans strive to do. We should buy organic because it is supposed to be healthier and better for you, though also more expensive. But here in Ecuador, most fresh produce IS organic and pesticide-free. Farms here, unlike those in the U.S., are mostly small-scale and the production of food is natural. Ferbola, this organic farm south of Cuenca, emphasizes sustainable, organic, and natural products. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: San Felipe de Oña, Azuay, Ecuador

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Dizzy Bricks
February 3, 2012

On the outskirts of Susudel, a small agricultural town, horses slog in a circular path for four hours, mixing a clay paste that will then be formed into bricks and baked in a large horno (oven) for three days. This traditional method is the primary source of income for the town.

tags: Culture

location: Hacienda Susudel, Azuay, Ecuador

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Ernesto Frog
February 3, 2012

"Lets go over there and look!" shouted Ernesto with excitement. Never before in my life have I been as truly inspired and touched by a teacher or professor. My biology professor, Ernesto, is exceptional. The admiration I have for him increases every day. The boundless passion he has for animals is impressive yet he is so humble about what he is able to offer the world. (more...)

tags: Environment, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: San Felipe de Oña, Azuay, Ecuador

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El Palo Encebado
January 31, 2012

El Palo Encebado is a traditional Latin American game that utilizes a 3-4 meter high pole covered in grease and prizes (pots, pans, teddy bears) hanging from the top. Children attempt to scamper up the greasy pole to win prizes for their family. This monument of El Palo was recently erected in one of Cuenca's oldest neighborhoods, “El Vado”. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Girón
January 29, 2012

Girón is a quiet little Ecuadorian town 45 kilometers away from Cuenca. It is known for its "cascadas" or waterfalls, which are the main tourist attraction in the village. The majority of people here make a living raising livestock and producing milk, cheese, and yogurt. There is a strong indigenous population, and it is rare that one sees a woman not wearing the traditional "pollera" and hat. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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If I lived to 90...
January 27, 2012

This 90-year-old Galapagos Turtle lives in the Amaru Zoo in Cuenca, Ecuador. She was orginally captured illegally and then rescued from a coastal town. She is blind in one eye, which makes it difflicult for her to eat so she has to be fed by hand. While she moves slowly due to her large, greatly damaged and deformed shell, the smell of this cantaloupe and papaya meal made her scurry close. After a satisfying chomp she smacked her lips and opened up for another bite.

tags: Environment

location: Paccha, Azuay, Ecuador

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Cat Nap
January 27, 2012

Cuenca’s Bioparque, el Zoológico Amaru, had its grand opening in December. The park boasts animals native to Ecuador and the mountain highland ecosystem surrounding Cuenca, in addition to animals from other parts of the world. Most of the animals are rescued from people who don’t know what it means to take care of exotic species, and the three adult lions who call the zoo home are no exception. (more...)

tags:

location: Paccha, Azuay, Ecuador

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Lunchtime at Amaru
January 27, 2012

Galapagos tortoises, for whom Ecuador’s famous islands are named, can live to be over 100 years old. This tortoise, at Zoológico Amaru in northeastern Cuenca, is over 80 years old. Because she’s blind in one eye, she requires assistance with her meals. Tortoises aren’t known for their speed, and this applies to eating. (more...)

tags:

location: Paccha, Azuay, Ecuador

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Hope for the Displaced
January 26, 2012

Illegal trading of exotic animals is a huge problem in Ecuador. It is all too profitable to capture wild animals and sell them to wealthy Ecuadorians or to foreigners willing to pay thousands of dollars for a baby monkey or Andean coati (shown here). After the first few months, the charm of having an exotic pet usually wears off and many animals are dropped on the doorstep of Amaru, Cuenca’s only zoological refuge. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Spectacled Bear
January 23, 2012

An Andean Bear takes a sun nap in his spacious habitat provided by the Amaru Zoo in the hills outside of Cuenca. Andean bears are nicknamed "spectacled bears" because each has unique markings around his/her eyes. Andean bears, the only type that reside here, are native to South America. They thrive in cloud forests and mountain forests, both of which are disappearing rapidly. Small and nimble, these bears are great tree climbers and walk up to 40km a day.

tags: Environment

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Roof top declaration
January 23, 2012

When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in the New World they were determined to convert and thus "save" the people of the Americas. Once a family converted they would place a cross on the top of their roof to indicate their conversion to the missionaries, who would then know that they didn't need to stop at this house. Most of the houses in the older parts of Cuenca are adorned by these crosses. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Rivers
January 23, 2012

There are four main rivers in Cuenca that most of the students on our program have fallen in love with. They nicely break up the busy city. Although they run near busy streets, and there is still a lot of traffic nearby, they provide a green space to chill or exercise. We are here during the wet season so the rivers rush with plentiful water. Many of us walk or run along the rivers daily, and there is always a variety of interesting things happening. (more...)

tags:

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Cuy en el campo
January 23, 2012

Cuy (guinea pig) as described by my abuelito (grandfather) would be a silly and boring pet. Cuy is a delicacy, a medicine, and a method of diagnosis in healing. As far as I know, the most expensive meal my mother has prepared so far has been cuy - $30 for five of them. A typical lunch of juice, soup, main dish and dessert is rarely more than $3, emphasizing the importance of the cuy. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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panaderia
January 22, 2012

They say that the national food of Ecuador is “cuy” (guinea pig), but I’m pretty sure it’s pan (bread). Pan is a staple in every household, business, and school, and it’s a disaster when people run out. It is eaten for breakfast, for dinner, for snacks, and during coffee and tea time, with cheese, jelly, chocolate, and caramel. Pan probably makes up about half of people’s diets here, and a wonderful half it is. Panaderias are everywhere. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Pig Head in the Meat Market
January 22, 2012

Every Sunday my host mom and I go to the market and she teaches me how to barter for the cheapest combination of fruits and vegetables. This Sunday we ventured to the meat section. We walked through a line of stalls where women took massive, bloody chunks of various animal parts to a large carved out stump and split them with a cleaver. (more...)

tags: Culture, Food

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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I hear wedding bells.
January 21, 2012

The wedding bells were just the beginning of this elaborate celebration in Cuenca. The procession poured out of the giant wooden doors and was greeted by a full military band. Hugs and kisses were exchanged beneath a fireworks show. A wooden castillo (decorated windmill-like structure) layered with even more fireworks lit up the scene. White paper lanterns were released into the night, floating quietly above the excitement.

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Globos
January 21, 2012

We were lucky enough to be walking through town just as a wedding was letting out. We witnessed fireworks and hot air balloons in an atmosphere enhanced by a military band. Hundreds of people filled the streets and watched in awe as the ¨globos¨ made their way through the night sky. The bride and groom hugged and kissed all of their loved ones, and we felt lucky to be part of the experience. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Ecuadorian Market
January 21, 2012

“Quieres probar?” asked the women at the food stand. “Umm… sí?” I replied hesitantly. As I walked around the 27 de febrero market, the vendors stared at me before asking whether or not I want to try their products. I really love going to all the different markets here. I love vegetables and fruits, and this is a  great way to experience Cuencan culture.

This past Saturday, I went into a small local market near my house. (more...)

tags: Culture, Food

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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La tienda
January 21, 2012

I have always wondered how the numerous panaderias (bread shops), papelerias (paper stores), heladerías (ice creameries), and other tiendas (shops) survive with so much competition. People eat bread and ice cream all the time and would probably need paper for various reasons. Some of these tiendas are not even walk-in shops; they have enclosed gates where one has to order what they desire. Yet in Cuenca, these vendors are able to survive and provide support for their families.

tags: Culture, Class, Politics, & Social Issues

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Crafty baby bjorn
January 20, 2012

The women around Cuenca, in order to keep their hands free, will tie their babies around their back. Usually all you see are tiny little feet bouncing against the woman's hips as she walks. There is no crying, no stopping for feeding, just little baby feet sticking out as the mother works or walks about.  Children up to the age of 3 are carried this way.

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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We put ourselves in boxes
January 18, 2012

We put ourselves in boxes: physical, occupational, mental, and national. At home in the U.S., we put boxes around everything. We pay architects and construction workers to create boxes made of wood and brick, and universities to teach us how to put a box around who we will be. In American high schools, everyone takes classes from a variety of disciplines, but in college, we become English or Biochemistry majors. We like categories, simple definitions into which we can fit life. (more...)

tags: Cultural Encounters: Student Blog

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Over the River
January 16, 2012

These stairs are one of three sets that connect the historic center of Cuenca to the Tomebamba River and the neighborhood where my Ecuadoran family lives.

tags: Culture, Architecture, Streetlife/Graffiti

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Traversing the Canopy
January 11, 2012

There was only one option if we wanted to continue our hike to the next mountaintop in the cloud forest outside of Mindo, a small town about 100 km away from Ecuador’s capital of Quito. This wooden box suspended hundreds of feet above the canopy by a metal cable would have required a consent form and a safety talk in the US. Here, we needed only to assure our guides that we did, in fact, want to continue. (more...)

tags:

location: Mindo, Pichincha, Ecuador

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Real World: Ecuador
January 10, 2012

Mindo, a small pueblo nestled in a cloud forest of northern Ecuador seems not to exist in the real world. There seems to be no way this vibrant natural energy can exist in the same sphere as bustling Quito less than two hours away. My brain is constantly trying to comprehend how my life in the United States fits with my new one here in Ecuador. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Mindo, Pichincha, Ecuador

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Mindu Hummingbirds
January 10, 2012

After traveling through the enormous and bustling city of Quito, we ventured to Mindo in the mountains beyond Quito. The two are only about an hour apart but are polar opposites. Mindo is in a cloud forest. Not only were we living in the clouds, we stayed at a hummingbird and butterfly reserve called Mariposaria. We were also surrounded by an array of brightly colored, aromatic, tropical flowers including a variety of orchids. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Calacali, Pichincha, Ecuador

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Catholic Tortoises
January 9, 2012

In Quito, the capital of Ecuador, the most important of the historical churches is called "La Basilica del Voto Nacional." The inside is beautifully decorated with gold leaf and paintings of biblical scenes. The most interesting ornaments on this cathedral, however, (in my humble opinion) are the stone gargoyles outside. They are actually depictions of the charismatic species of the different regions of Ecuador. (more...)

tags: Culture, Environment

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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The Fog Hid Everything
January 1, 2012

The simplicity of this cross near the small pueblo Girón is the reason I choose to pair it with La Basílica del Voto Nacional in Quito. Completed in neo-gothic style, La Basílica is everything the modest cross is not. Ecuador is a country immersed in religion and these two crosses represent the dichotomy in religious manifestation, not just in Ecuador but around the world. (more...)

tags: Culture, Class, Politics, & Social Issues

location: Girón, Azuay, Ecuador

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Toucan
April 28, 2011

This dead Ecuadorian Toucan was rescued from an exotic animal market. An endangered species, the Toucan is captured in the Amazon region and exported to other locations. Although this is illegal, many poachers still capture exotic animals for pets or rituals. The bird shown here was brought to the Amaru Zoo alive but unfortunately could not survive outside of its natural habitat. (more...)

tags: Environment, Bioqarque (Zoologico Bioparque de Cuenca 'Amaru')

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Where Does Your Steak Live?
April 16, 2011


Where did your meat come from? Hamburgers, pork chops, ribs, and chicken wings are all common-place in the American diet but, unless you live on a farm, you have absolutely no contact with the carnal side of your food. We have created labels to address this; you can say you buy organic, grass-fed, even locally grown meat. The fact of the matter is you have no idea where your meat came from. The majority of Americans prefer not to think about the animal at all. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

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the300$pig
April 16, 2011

This was the biggest pig I could find in the live animal market of Cañar. It must have weighed at least 250 - 300 lbs and cost $300.  The vender was intent on selling the animal and proudly told me that the pig would easily feed 40 to 50 people.

tags: Indigenous Groups, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

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the american icon
April 16, 2011

In Ecuador, a U.S. lifestyle is both fantasized and exaggerated, stretched to mean something completely different. Our flag is both a pop icon and a means of advertising. Imported American cars, technology, and clothes all sell for more than double their U.S. prices. Food carts and produce trucks sport the bald eagle, red white and blue, and other symbols with the hope of increasing sales and instilling the idea of quality and exoticism.

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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HIPSTERS
April 15, 2011

Students from the 2012 spring program at the ruins of Ingapirca. These ancient stone buildings were constructed by both the Cañaris and the Incas and are located about an hour outside the city of Cañar.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Architecture, Streetlife/Graffiti, Canari

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

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Jesus Supermodel
April 14, 2011

This photo, taken in the town of Cañar located in high Andes of Ecuador, portrays the importance and prevalence of religion in day to day life.

tags: Culture

location: Cañar, Canar, Ecuador

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water for cuenca
April 7, 2011

Starting at about 12,000 feet, the páramo is one of the most stunning and unique ecosystems in Ecuador. It receives massive amounts of rain and collects water in its lakes and marshy soil. Seen here in Cajas National Park is one of the lakes that provides clean drinking water for the city of Cuenca below. At the top of the Andes, the páramo can support only a few trees, plants, and select animals. (more...)

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Paramo

location: Azuay, Ecuador

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Polleras for Sale
March 25, 2011

Polleras, brightly colored and often sequined or embroidered, are skirts worn by Cholas, women of mixed European and indigenous heritage. From both urban and rural areas of Ecaudor, many Cholas are fruit and vegetable sellers in Cuenca’s markets. Despite their mestizo roots, Cholas are often seen as symbols of indigenous life.

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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Two chicas near El Tomba
March 25, 2011

These two chicas waved “yes” and smiled when I asked to take their picture. Our group was walking along the railroad tracks between the Inca ruins at Ingapirca and the town of El Tomba in Cañar province.

tags: Culture

location: Zhud, Canar, Ecuador

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Nuestra señora iglesia
March 19, 2011

A  night version of Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen and the old church of Turi atop the hill, looking south from our apartment in Cuenca.

tags: Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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LonelyRoad
March 10, 2011

Traveling from El Tiink, an indigenous Shuar village in southeast Ecuador to Cuenca is no easy task. The road back consists of around 150 km of dirt and potholes winding its way through tiny farming towns that barely exist. Snaking up through the mountains, this old highway seems desolate and unused. However, ten years ago such roads were the only method of travel in Ecuador. Massive construction efforts by president Rafael Correa have given birth to a complex of highways through the country. (more...)

tags:

location: La Paz, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Lakes of Cajas National Park
March 10, 2011

On a day trip to Cajas National Park, I was delighted to finally see the ecosystem that I have been tirelessly researching for my biology project. About 270 lakes and lagoons can be found in Cajas, as its main function is to store and release fresh water into the lowlands of Ecuador.

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Paramo, Flora & Fauna

location: Victoria del Portete, Azuay, Ecuador

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The three crosses of Cajas
March 9, 2011

These three crosses are posted at the entrance of Cajas National Park located about 20 miles west of Cuenca. At an elevation of 13,123 feet, the vegetation is primarily páramo (high altitude grasslands) and the trees and ground are covered with mosses, lichens, and fungi. Historically, Cajas was used as a travel road crossing from the Sierra region to the Amazon. Many would die on this arduous trip through the harsh climates in the páramo of Cajas. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups, Environment, Art, Architecture, Ecosystems: Paramo

location: Victoria del Portete, Azuay, Ecuador

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Father and Son
March 9, 2011

These villagers, standing in the doorway of their kitchen, represent the typical nuclear family structure of the Shuar people in El Tiink. This circular bamboo hut, with dirt floor and fire pit, is separated from the rest of the house and used for cooking and preparation of food. Today, the Shuar people are the largest indigenous population still living in the Amazon. Although much of their life has been changed by the modern world many things still remain the same. (more...)

tags: Indigenous Groups

location: Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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MeatMarket
March 5, 2011

To an outsider, standing in the center of Loja’s central market is like facing a torrent of sensory stimulation. Vendors bombard you from every direction with information on what they are selling and how economical it is. The rich blend of colors and textures draws your eyes to a hundred things at once. At first it is impossible to do anything except wander. After some time, structure begins to take shape. Most apparent to me was that everything was fresh. (more...)

tags: Culture

location: Loja, Loja, Ecuador

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Road from Gualaquiza to Cuenca
February 17, 2011

After eight days of travel and biological study in southern Ecuador’s Amazon Basin, we headed back to Cuenca from Gualaquiza via this serpentine mountain road. This route helped us avoid a possible repeat of the three-hour delay caused by a derumbe (landslide) we’d encountered on our way to the Rio Nangaritza. (more...)

tags: Environment

location: Gima, Azuay, Ecuador

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A Shuar Kitchen
February 16, 2011

In the Shuar community of El Tink, German Petsain and his family, friends of biology professor Ernesto Arbeláez, hosted us. Herman’s son Arutam, named for the Shuar god of the rainforest and waterfalls, waited outside the family’s kitchen as our group arrived for lunch. This bamboo and wood structure stands separate from the family’s sleeping quarters. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups

location: San Juan Bosco, Morona-Santiago, Ecuador

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Papagayo Birds
February 14, 2011

These Papagayo birds watched over the Hostería El Arenal in southern Ecuador near Zamora, where we stayed during our week of academic travel.

tags: Environment, Ecosystems: Tropical Forest

location: Yangana, Loja, Ecuador

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Storm on the Nangaritza River
February 14, 2011

For a few dry moments, most of our happy group posed as we embarked on a two-hour tour of the Rio Nangaritza (Sam and Claire are missing). Just as the canoe pulled out from the dock at La Orquídeas, una tormenta – a gigantic storm – began and the rains descended for the entire trip. But we saw waterfalls and wildlife and scrambled up a muddy embankment to a Shuar community, returning wet but satisfied.

tags: Indigenous Groups, Environment, Shuar

location: Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Basilica of the Virgin of Cisne
February 12, 2011

The Basilica of the Virgin of Cisne is one of Ecuador’s most visited religious sites. On August 17th every year, pilgrims gather in El Cisne to begin a three-day procession to Loja, 70 km away. The statue of the Virgin is carried to the cathedral in Loja where it remains until it is returned to El Cisne on November 3. (more...)

tags: Holidays, Rituals, & Traditions, Culture

location: Loja, Loja, Ecuador

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Saraguro Mural
February 10, 2011

This mural in the center of Saraguro, about 165 km south of Cuenca, captures the single braid hairstyle and clothing common for both men and women. The Saraguros’ productive landholdings and high levels of education make them among the most prosperous indigenous groups in Ecuador. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups

location: Urdaneta, Loja, Ecuador

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Children playing around the river
February 6, 2011

I snapped this photo as our group was getting ready to board a ferry to cross a rushing river called Nangaritza in southern Ecuador. This little girl was playing with about 8 or 9 other children near the river. I noticed her since she was one of only a few girls. The young boys giggled and whacked each other with their balloons and in their best American accents recited popular American phrases to us. (more...)

tags: Culture, Indigenous Groups

location: Zamora, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Bones
February 6, 2011

In the absence of street lights, how does one find their way? In the center of Quito, travelers can still see the remnants of animal vertebra inlaid into the cobblestone to provide direction for nighttime walkers. It may seem ghostly to follow bones but when the night sky is your only lantern, they provide a stark contrast to their cobblestone counterparts.

tags: Culture

location: Quito, Pichincha, Ecuador

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The Church on the Hill
February 2, 2011

After a long hike in the Andean Forest with the group trekking higher and higher in attitude, we finally reached our destination. This historical chapel on a hill overlooks the small town below, while there are no other buildings in sight. Villagers on an annual pilgrimage complete the arduous trek each May to unite at the top for a celebration in the chapel.

tags: Environment

location: Zamora, Zamora-Chinchipe, Ecuador

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Cuy
February 1, 2011

 

Cuy - guinea pig - is a key Ecuadorian dish. Roasted guinea pigs have been raised and eaten in the Andes since before the arrival of the Spanish. They are also used in healing ceremonies to diagnose and treat various illnesses. We sampled this one at a fabulous lunch - almuerzo - at Fundacion Amauta, the school where our program is based.

tags: Medicine & Traditional Healing, Culture

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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One view of Cuenca
January 27, 2011

Looking South toward the edge of Cuenca from our apartment, two beautiful churches dominate our view - Parroquia Nuestra Señora del Carmen, and on top of the hill, the more famous old church of Turi.

tags:

location: Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

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