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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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