Posts made in December, 2013

Holiday Sights in Cotacachi

Posted by on Dec 26, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

Holiday Sights in Cotacachi

Back in the U.S. there are parades, and they can be colorful, fun to watch and beautifully executed.  Here in Cotacachi, the parades are often colorful  and fun to watch, as well, but they have an element of community and inclusion of more members of society than we normally see in the states.  By inclusion I mean that a wide range of ages usually participates, and it is not unusual to have children leading or playing important roles.  The featured image shows two small children walking at the beginning of a parade, and representing Mary and Joseph.  Naturally such little ones are accompanied by parents but the children are starting to take part in a way of expressing not only religious faith, but solidarity with their community. Everyone is marching together in the same direction, and aside from being an endearing and stirring sight, it is a kind of ritual that unites the people and honors the birth of...

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Finding an Angel in Otavalo

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

Finding an Angel in Otavalo

In my wanderings around Otavalo yesterday, I came across several angels on a vendor’s table near Plaza de los Ponchos (the largest indigenous market in South America) and perhaps the most well known attraction for tourists in Otavalo. The angels were simple, carved from wood and hand painted.  I was attracted by their simple and somewhat rustic elegance. For some reason I walked by the first time and decided I would come back in a few minutes after I found something to eat.  I was very hungry and decided to buy mango slices from a woman selling them from her mobile cart. The mango was wonderfully sweet and perfectly ripe. Just the right little something to keep my stomach from complaining.  I returned to the table and asked how much the angel cost.  There were large and small versions,  the larger being about 6 inches tall. I wanted a large one and thought I might buy several, but the vendor said $12.  I know I could bargain and get the price down, so I gave him the long face and said in Spanish, Oh, it’s very expensive for me. When he said $10, I kept my sad face on.  Then he asked me how much I wanted to pay.  I said $5 and he said $6 and I said I’d think about it, and so he said okay, $5.  So that’s how you bargain. The vendors are savvy at sizing you up and they make most of their money on those who do not know the bargaining culture.  I remember when I used to be afraid to bargain, but I’m feeling much better at it theses days.  It comes with learning enough of the language to communicate, and you don’t need to know very much, but you do have to know your numbers in Spanish at the minimum. It is an interesting art that is a part of life here.  You never want to insult the vendor or ignore the value of the person’s work, but on the other hand, you have to realize that they are playing a game with you as well as making their living.  Each encounter is fluid and the vendor will usually start out at double or a little more than double what they will sell the item for and still make a profit. I think $5 was a good price for the angel, and I will long remember the experience of bargaining for it.  I wonder if I can get two little ones for $7 or $8?  I’ll let you know if I do.      ...

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Christmas in Cotacachi

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

Christmas in Cotacachi

It won’t be long until Christmas arrives, and there are some tell tale signs around Cotacachi.   For one thing the city has already had the crews engaged to set up a nativity scene in the center of Parque La Matriz. A few days ago, out came the animal and human figures for the scene and workers busily erected supports and created a thatched roof with long strands of soft dry grass that sways whenever the wind blows through. The scene is encircled with multi-colored barricades, and more touches will be added to the scene as the day approaches. The other tell tale sign is not seen, but heard.  There are explosions going off at all hours — pretty much whenever someone has some fireworks and feels like setting them off. If you are a newbie in Cotacachi you might at first be alarmed and think you are hearing gun fire, but since people here, generally speaking, do not have guns it is easy enough to grow used to random explosions followed by brilliant rockets or multicolored fireworks in the sky.  It is much like U. S. Fourth of July celebrations, only they go on for weeks. Other signs you will see that definitely tell you it’s Christmas time in Cotacachi is the appearance of children wearing white gowns and angels wings (usually in parades) and they are frequently accompanied by some very cute teen aged girls in Santa costumes wearing  high heeled boots and mini skirts.  ‘Mini skirts’, you ask? It is rather warm to be wearing a full Santa costume for any appreciable amount of time during the day; and besides, the girls really are super cute. The featured image is a woman in traditional clothing sitting on a park bench with the nativity scene in the background.  ...

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Oh, Christmas Tree! Paper Clips to the Rescue!

Posted by on Dec 15, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

Oh, Christmas Tree! Paper Clips to the Rescue!

December Holiday observances in the Americas, North or South, is a time of celebration, a time of reflection, and many activities which bring people together.  Here in Cotacachi, we do not have as much diversity of religious faiths as in the United States, so one sees Christmas themed celebrations and decorations for the most part.  This is my second Christmas in Cotacachi and at the time of this post I have now been in Ecuador for a year and three weeks. I decided to decorate the space in my office so many can enjoy a few festive touches during this season.  I have a party planned, so a tree goes a long way toward making the room  look inviting.  This is my first tree, here in Ecuador.  I purchased the tree and some ornaments at the local grocery store, Tia. It’s pretty much like any other basic tree, but as I began putting on the lights and hanging a few ornaments, something happened.  Out of nowhere I simply began to feel carefree and delighted with this very ordinary tree.  I guess the holiday spirit arrived. One of the funny things about tree decorating here ( and a few other things, too) is that if you are from North America you will frequently have difficulty finding simple things you never thought would be hard to find in Ecuador. For example,  you know those little metal hooks made for hanging ornaments?  Well, it’s a bit different here.  Instead of metal hangers, all the ornaments I bought came with a set of thin golden threads about 4 inches in length.  I spent a long time making holes in my golden glitter snowflakes with a nail and then painstakingly threaded the thread through the rather flimsy  top of the ornament and then laboriously tied a knot in the thread in order to hang them.  Each one took several minutes, so after a half our or so I decided to continue at a later time. Fortunately, I ran into friends at the bus station in Otavalo yesterday, and Donda revealed the secret of hanging ornaments without going crazy with those tiny golden threads which take forever to tie. The way to go is paper clips!  Yes! You unbend them so you have a hook on both ends, put the smallest end through your ornament and use the larger end to  hang on the tree branch.  Thanks a million for that great tip,...

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Another Successful Pancake Breakfast!

Posted by on Dec 9, 2013 in Blog | 1 comment

Another Successful Pancake Breakfast!

Huge thanks to everyone who braved the rain and came out to the second “Pancakes for Water” Breakfast benefit on Sunday December 8. Thanks to your generosity we now have raised a total of $3308.55 to purchase materials for the water irrigation project.  We very much appreciate the generosity and good will shown to the people of La Calera. Most of us take having water for granted, but this project will make a big difference in the quality of life in that community. The residents of La Calera, including Phyllis Cooper who started the ball rolling on this project, and myself express our gratitude to all who donated and participated in this effort. Special thanks go to Dan as well as to chef Santiago and his family for their kind support and dedicated work to make the event such a...

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