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Aug. 10th, 2008


The end of PAP 2008

Well another successful field season has come to a close. It was an event filled, student rich time in Ecuador. This year we know so much more about our experiences because of this wonderful blog (thanks Sam Krause!) and other online communities like Facebook (where we are sure the commentaries will continue). We were both very happy to have been a part of it all.

This year we had two groups on the project, the Foothill students and the UCLA students. Each has a different, yet integrated, experience. For our UCLA students the focus has been on archaeology, and it continues with their independent projects due in a few weeks. For our Foothill students the focus was on community service learning, archaeology, and experiencing the wonders of Ecuador.

It was great that this year the various communities alongside the road (San Antonio, San Pedro, Buena Esperanza) were involved with our project. Several schools in Buena Esperanza and Cangahua benefited from Foothill's service learning program and we hope to expand into more communities in the future. Thank you Foothill Students for all your involvement and commitment. The people in Cangahua and Buena Esperanza were very sad to see all of you go. Thank you Staff Members for all your help and providing advice for the students and teaching them your experience. And we thank everyone else that was part of our project and for sharing a part of your life with us for six weeks. We appreciate your feedback and comments and always strive to improve each year....Gracias a todos!

For us the 2008 field season was marked by a number of highlights:

- Looking up and seeing cousin Anjali climbing into the bullring.
- Minga Saturday with Chumillos
- David Morin's photo board
- chatting with Ernie
- climbing to the top of Quitoloma among the clouds on top of the world
- dancing in the plaza
- our children speaking Spanish
- Pukarito walls
- Buena Esperanza soccer game
- the chiva
- a late lunch with Chad and the Males family
- pumice
- the top of Peguche water fall
- Non-existent watch-towers
- Huayna Capac's pool at Caranqui
- survey treks to Cayambe and in the No Man's Triangle
- We love you Mo
- snow capped volcanoes
- Do you miss the bus?
- Are you warmer now?
- Is internet faster?
- How was the adventure?

--Sam and Ana, Directors

Aug. 6th, 2008



Being backin Ecuador has been great. I came here as a student three years ago and never have forgotten that experience. Thereś also just something about the scenery, the mountains, that appeals to a Midwesterner like myself. I just like mountians. However, some of the lower lands hold some great times. Two weekends ago I went to Mindo, a cloud forest where I got to hike to waterfalls and zipline over the tops of trees in wonderfully humid and warm weather. That was quite a trip, flying through the air above the treeline, my hair flapping merrily in the wind (and in my face). This past weekend we took a trip to Oyacachi, another town where the elevation allows for milder weather. We soaked up to our necks in deliciously hot water fed by natural hot springs. I haven felt so clean in weeks; I could almost feel the dirt seeping out of my pores. Wonderful. Oyacachi is also home to fresh trout farms and the locals sure know how to cook them. A heeping plate with steaming rice, salad, papas fritas (french fries), and a whole trout was exactly what I needed. To cap off the trip, we went by some ruins of Old Oyacachi, an abandoned colonial site that was unbelievably picturesque and archaeologically interesting. A hot soak, good food, and an interesting historical visit, what more could you wan? Apparently cuy, a local dish here that was served at the Casa that night.

Now that the project is nearly over, I starting to get that feeling where I know Iĺl be leaving Ecuador again soon. The self-denial is still in full swing. Luckily, Iĺl be sticking around South America for a few extra weeks travelling with my dad down to Macchu Picchu and Cusco and then back up for a Galapagos tour. I really excited. It makes the next several days of paperwork and goodbyes to come just a little bit easier to cope with. Until next time. Ciao!


Aug. 4th, 2008



Just before coming to the Pambamarca Archeological Project I was watching one of my favorite shows--¨Bizzare Foods with Andrew Zimmerman¨--on the travel channel, and the episode happened to be about Ecuador. The featured traditional cuisine was cuy, or guinea pig. Though a staple protein for Ecuadorians, cuy seems quite strange to the average American who may have had a pet guinea pig as a child. We were given the opportunity to sample cuy when the cooks prepared them for dinner on Sunday night in the Casa. The taste was reminiscent of a salty duck, though the tiny legs with feet and nails sticking out of the peices of meat were a little disconcerting. Overall, the experience was definitely worth it, but I would probably not choose to eat cuy again.

--Rachel Feinberg

Aug. 3rd, 2008



This morning, the members of the project went to the town of Oyacachi, a bit northeast of Cangahua. We set out on our buses early in the morning, driving up and out of Cangahua, past the communities above and up into uninhabited mountainland. As we traversed the roads across the eastern cordillera of the Andes, the closest we came to a paved road was lightly cobblestoned. After an hour of bobbling around these roads that wouldn´t pass for rural driveways back home, we began to descend into the beginnings of the Amazon. As we continued downhill, the hillsides became greener and the plantlife diversified. Waterfalls cascaded down the cliffs into the valley below, and as we rounded a curve the small town of Oyacachi sat below us.

The first order of business when we got to town was to pre-order our lunches. Oyacachi is full of trout farms, and at the time of ordering your lunch is still swimming around. Since there were so many of us, we decided to fill the time necessary to catch and prepare our food with a visit to the hot springs.

We cross a suspension bridge over the stream and strip down to our skivvies, then run down to one of the pools to escape the ridiculously cold air. If it weren´t for our visit to Mindo last weekend, I feel like I´d forget what summer is supposed to be like. I remembered which pool was ridiculously hot from our visit last year and led some unsuspecting first-timers over that way, and we hopped right on into the steaming water. After relaxing for a bit half out of the water (being in up to your neck makes it a bit difficult to breathe), a few of us decided to really get our blood moving by jumping into the ice cold stream running right below us. So we walked on over, still feeling warm and adventurous from the steaming pool, jumped in, and came clamoring back to the warmth we´d left. Once the tingling and numbness calmed, it was back to hot springs business as usual.

After a bit we went and ate our fantastic trout, wandered the town a bit and then went to the ruins down the road. These aren´t prehistoric ruins like we´ve been excavating, but the ruins of old Oyacachi. I´ve been told the town moved because of fear of landslides, but from where I was it seemed safely situated in the middle of the valley. Anyway, we bummed around there for a while looking at old abandoned houses, the church and the graveyard, and then came on home. Tonight we´re having cuy, or guinea pig, for dinner as a special treat. I´ve heard there isn´t much meat and that the cheeks are the best part, so I guess I´ll be finding out shortly.

Micah Smith
Senior Staff

Aug. 2nd, 2008


The Lab

As a staff member, my official title is "lab geek," which is a pretty acurate discription. I am privledged to see what happens to artifacts after they come back from the field. First they are carefully washed by Ecuadorian staff or students. They dry overnight then are cataloged. The next morning the artifacts are sorted. For example, all the bits of obsidian are seperated into bags of flakes, chunks, tools, bifaces and cores. Ceramics are seperated into borring body sherds, and the more important diagnostic sherds, such as rims, that can give us important details about the types of vessels that people used. Each bag of artifacts is given a cataloge number and its details are entered into a computerized database. All this work is done carefully to make the analist´s job easier later on. I am doing my own analisis of the ceramics from the the site Oroloma to determine the percentage of Cosanga, a trade ware, that we have in different contexts there.

--Christina Cox

Aug. 1st, 2008


Only a week and a half to go!

Wow! Time certainly flies around here. Only 1 1/2 weeks to go, I can't believe it! Well, it has been a blast! My team and I have managed to dig at three seperate sites, that is, what is left of my team. Even thoguh we weren't rolling in artifacts like those people at Pitena, we did manage to find some pretty cool architecture. A wall at Sanchi Rumi and some strange, yet to be determined Cangahua structures at Pukarito. Time will tell, and of course we continue our never ending quest to find the golden llama.
There were some next experiences this year of course. The Chiva, the parade, the wheel of death, the hacienda and the staff hourse. I love the deck! There were also some oldies but goodies. Bull fights smd the Luti Ragmi partie where Ana, Ollie, and Chad battled to be the Last Gringo Standing. I think it was a tie in the end, but I'm sure they will dispute this.
I am sure that there will be many more memories to come, after all there is still a week and a half left and anything is possible.
So here's to next year! Viva Cangahua!

Senior Staff

Jul. 31st, 2008


(no subject)

So…. Writing a blog… Another first for me. This trip
has been full of things I never thought I would do and
things I never even knew I might be presented to have
an opportunity to do. I’m leaving Ecuador with so
much knowledge and new interest. My journey into
archaeology has been like an Alice in Wonderland ride.
I continually and unexpectedly come across people who
are pointing me down this path. I’m leaving Ecuador
with my own direction into this path, which is
incredibly satisfying to me.

The most memorable time on this whole trip for me was
in Mindo. We decided to go up to the waterfalls. We
were dropped off at the top of the hill and took the
gondola across the canopy and hiked down. We made it
to a waterfall and ran into some other people from our
group. We went swimming and decided to hike on. We
hiked barefoot and wearing only our bathing suits
through the mud and pouring rain. This moment was by
far the most memorable to me in the whole trip and I
think it was probably the most spiritual moment in my
life. I felt strong and alive and connected to the
earth. And for once in my life, my brain was quiet. I
just took it all in.

Thanks to everyone who made this experience so good
for me. I’ve learned more than I imagined I wold. I’ve
met a few people that I think I’m going to be friends
with for a long time. I’ve taken a lot from you people
and I’m so grateful.

I am hopeful for next year, that I can come back and
work on my own project while still contributing to
this archaeological project. Thank you again to
everyone, health and wellness to you all.

--Gina Bravo

Jul. 30th, 2008

llama face

Adventures in Quito

My objectives for the weekend were as follows
-Watch The Man-Bat in his latest madcap adventure,
-Have as much fun as was morally/legally possible

So, let’s do some guided imagery for a minute. Imagine you took an American college student -me, for instance- and stuck him out in the boonies of Ecuador for three weeks. Watch as the thin veneer of civilization surrounding his bestial, animal nature is rubbed away by days of pickaxe swinging and spotty shower opportunities.

Now, without warning, throw him on a bus back to the big city. It was seriously a Beverly Hillbillies moment for me- there I am, Sam Kettle, covered in dirt with jagged fingernails and still blowing black boogers into a handkerchief, in the trendiest section of Quito.

I sounded like a total rube. “Look at that! A restaurant without a dead, gutted pig hanging in the window! Wait, wow, coffee that isn’t instant! Holy crap, is that a bistro?”

I was prepared, going on this trip, for a certain amount of culture shock. I didn’t expect it to happen when I got back, however. After weeks of trolling around Cangahua with a helping of Chicken Lady in one hand a bottle of stomach-rotting moonshine with the other, I was totally unprepared to see people with mousse in their hair. Not just gel, mousse, teased into fantastical shapes, reminiscent of dragons and unicorns. I, in my relatively clean jeans and very hypothetically clean thermal shirt, felt not unlike a toothless fisherman from the Ozarks dropped into a Latino version of MTV’s Spring Break.

I’m not used to seeing people without survival instincts, either. I saw a blond girl in short shorts and a halter top, her wrists covered in jangling gold bracelets, walking drunk down the street alone with her wallet in her hands. Please, muggers of Ecuador, she is saying. Please, just roll me over. The muggers of the Mariscal probably just wrote it off as too easy. I mean, everyone likes an easy mark, but really.

Saturday was punctuated by medical emergency and The Dark Knight, which was basically the cinematic equivalent of taking every moment of joy I have ever experienced in my twenty-one years and condensing it into two and a half hours, only with eye socket intrusion and Maggie Gyllenhall being infuriatingly indecisive. He’s a handsome kung-fu billionaire who adores you and owns a really cool car, woman! Come on, it’s not that difficult.

Sunday was sad, though, since I said goodbye to Brandon and Glenn, two out of three of my BFFs on the trip. Glenn showed me American Astronaut, and Brandon said I was awesome, forming bonds that will never be broken.

So, in total: I ate a scandalous amount of chocolate, saw the best movie ever, didn’t get mugged, said goodbye to awesome people, neglected to go on a party bus, drank actual coffee, ate in charming bistros, and had several hot showers with actual water pressure.

Objective: Have More Fun than is Reasonable in a Fair World. Status: Success!

Today it’s back to work, back to digging, back to Chicken Lady, and back to dirt in my hair. Quito was awesome, but it’s good to be home.

Sam Kettle

Jul. 29th, 2008


The beauty of this country.

I’ve always wanted to be a bird. Staying in a cage where everyone feeds and loves you is not something I truly want. I want to fly away, I want to see what is behind those bars.

When I first got to the States a year ago, I felt like I was in another world, seeing people of different cultures and lifestyles. It was like going up on a Ferris wheel, slowly rising up and seeing more and more of the vast world. However, when I came to Ecuador, flying to the States was only like opening the bird cage; it is only in Ecuador that I have found the most beautiful treasure in the world – I have found where I want to be.

For the past three weeks, I have been traveling to different places in Ecuador at the back of a truck. I saw many different faces on my way back and forth to my destinations. I have never said so many “Holas” and “Ciaos” in my life before. But here, even when you know you may never going to see those people in your life again, you still take your time and greet them as if they were your closest friends. I guess everyone whom you have met in your life – even for only once – are still stars in the sky to make your brightest night.

Everyone knows, and I am 100% certain that, I only have one life. I can never do all the things I want to do nor see all the faces I want to see in my life. Life goes so fast that days pass like moments on the back of the truck. Therefore, I want to capture all these moments as much as possible. I know what I can do is limited; but I still want to make use of this opportunity that my parents allow me to do as much as possible. On one hand, excavating the treasures that I long for; on the other hand, giving back not only to my family, but also to the society.

In Ecuador, when you greet the people, they always have the brightest smiles on their faces; they look so content. But what we see is most of the times different from the truth. Many of these people are living a life so hard that we could never imagine. They lack an element in our lives – choice. When I looked at most of the children’s faces, I see their fates. Many could not even afford to go to school. They are deprived of the opportunity to explore the vast world; all they can do is to stay in their little box. They may find their little box warm and fuzzy. However to me, if they, one day, have the chance to push open the lid, why not try and explore both sides of the world instead of staying in the center of the earth?

We are the lucky ones. We should be the ones to help them and give them a helping hand to crush down the walls of their box. I admit that everyone has their own interests and everyone’s power is limited and it is impossible to help all those in need. Nevertheless, we still have to try. Even if we failed and only a small group could step out, at least someone has benefited. That is my interpretation of the purpose of our lives (or at least mine) – satisfying ourselves and, at the same time, help and support one another.

I have found my wings in Ecuador. I figured out that I want to fly to as many places as possible. I want to explore different places and different people so that I can understand and help those in need. And at the same time, look for the meanings of life.

I love Ecuador.


Jul. 28th, 2008



A Climbing Adventure

This past weekend, Martin, Holly and I set out to climb Cotopaxi. This turned out to involve seeking out a mountaineering travel agency that actually used certified climbing guides, getting fitted with crampons and ice axes, and later on being very very tired and very very cold. Our travels took us from Quito to a hostel about halfway between the city and the volcano, where we had a fantastic lunch, and then we moved on to the Cotopaxi park where we climbed up to the refuge with all of our gear. Then came the mountaineering training, which allowed us to play with our crampons and ice axes and learn how to fall down the mountain safely by stopping ourselves with our ice axes. Everyone took a brief post-dinner nap in the network of bunk beds that required us to sleep like sardines. That was actually pretty nice, as the refuge really only protects you from the frigid whipping wind. At midnight everyone started suiting up and getting ready to set out for the summit at 1 AM. It was freezing. The wind was biting and we were covered in a thin layer of ice. By headlamp we climbed up for five hours before our guide told us that unfortunately, at our pace, we wouldn't be able to make it to the top by the 7AM cutoff when we had to begin returning to the refuge before the sun melted the snow and ice. We climbed until the sun rose. It was really amazing, having been climbing in the dark, to see how far we had come up the side of the volcano. We reached 5500 meters. By 9AM we were all packed up and ready to return to Quito, via a bicycle race on the Panamerica and the backstreets of Quito. We rewarded ourselves with lunch at the Magic Bean and rested up for the chiva hilarity that would ensue later that evening. It was a fantastic adventure, despite the lack of actual summit. It was incredible, and a great start to a fantastic weekend.

Laurie Bramlage
Imposter Archaeologist :)
(AKA Student)

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