fancy

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

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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

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fancy

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

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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

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fancy

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

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fancy

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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fancy

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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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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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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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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