Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NHESP 2010 Update 9

Our rock climbing day near Palugo

There have been tranquil vibes all throughout this week. Every one of us is finding the right space within the group. What’s so amazing is that when there is disagreement, of some sort, harsh feelings don’t seem to linger; what a relief.
Spanish lesson with Marcela
We began the week with an opportunity to see a play that Marcela wrote, produced, and starred in. We took a bus into Quito along with friends from Palugo Farm. The play was called Sed and it starred Marcela, a friend, and the talented musician Nandino, Isolina and Samuel’s son from Shiwacocha. The play was in Spanish and was about the tangible qualities and the spiritual essence of water. It definitely made your mind work, and it was quite unique and inspiring.
Economy lesson with Gino at the Dammer house
            Throughout the week we’ve been working on the many projects that we have dedicated ourselves to. The two main projects of the week 
have been felting and ceramics. Marcea taught us about felting and gifted us with her knowledge and easy-going energy. Some of us are making hats, gloves, pouches, and slippers out of sheared wool from alpacas, llamas, and sheep. Next, we crafted red clay pieces with Adela. She taught us various techniques and how to really work with the clay. Sometime before we leave on our next expedition, we will experiment with firing our mugs, bowls, plates, and figurines in a hay pit. The day we worked with clay, we were lucky to have Shiram’s family come for dinner. They made a traditional meal in honor of the Day of the Dead.  The dinner included bread shaped like children, rice with mushrooms, and a very popular drink called Colada Morada, made out of sweet fruits and purple corn. Shiram’s mother gave a brief talk on the history and importance of the holiday.
            We spent a day dedicated to working on semester pages and finishing up various projects. Armin, our semester book manager, assigned everyone a page, ranging from: the process of making Oyacachi bowls and pilches, herbology, leatherworking, ecology, etc.  After the pages were thoroughly completed, some people dried herbs for cooking oils and medicinal uses, some made bamboo flutes, and some collected firewood. Marcela taught a Spanish class.
            Then the day arrived when we would start our solos. We woke to an early start and began chores. Then we had breakfast and talked about the philosophy of what a solo is. The process was to find a secluded spot on the upper fields of the farm to go to with a liter of water, clothes, and a sleeping pad, and to just think and enjoy being. The solo was for three days and two nights. You had to remain in the circle you had made and feed yourself through your thoughts. It was an interesting and difficult time with some moments of enlightenment; the days were long and warm, and the nights were longer and cold. After coming back from solo, we all seemed to be in a peaceful space. We shared some of our stories; some people said they sighted foxes, humming birds, and lizards, for example.  Then, we headed out to the hot springs in Papallacta to finish the cleansing process. There we swam in the hot pools, had lunch, and simply relaxed and looked at the towering mountains surrounding the springs.
Tatoo, waiting for work
            The next day, Carina and Nicole took us to Tatoo Adventure Sports where we met Mauri and his  spouse Gaby, friends of the three Dammer brothers. Tatoo is a local outdoor company based in Ecuador.  It’s been around for about fifteen years and was started by Mauri and his wife. Tatoo began when Mauri starting to do screen printing in his room. Within a year, word got around, and now Tatoo is a successful local and sustainable outdoor company that makes mountaineering gear and wear. Its branches are solely in South America. We met Tatoo’s workers, who helped us make quick-dry trekking pants for Cotopaxi. The day was amazing, and showed us all how something is built from the ground up. “You can’t grow (a business) from a desk -- you have to be in the frontline.” –Mauri.  
After we said goodbye to Mauri, Gaby, and the workers, Carina and Nicole treated us to ice cream in the idyllic city of Cumbaya. The ice cream parlor had more flavors then you can imagine. Something interesting happened while we were devouring our ice cream. Often in the U.S., you see homeless or begging grownups, but when we were eating two little girls, no older then ten years old, walked around to each one of us and begged us to buy candy. They pleaded and pleaded and pretended to sob. This really took us aback.  From then on, everything was dead silent and a sadder, but necessarily more sober, tone permeated the group. That night, as if we didn’t have enough sweets, Marcela baked us a chocolate cake to simply celebrate being alive.
Spider on the wall
            The next day we had breakfast without Carina, Marcela, and Michael. The cooks made a delicious breakfast of tiestos (flat bread) with jam and moracho, a corn-like oatmeal dish. After breakfast, we met up with the teachers and Thomas, and headed down to the bodega to prepare for a day of climbing. There we gathered ropes, harnesses, helmets, and shoes, and took off to a local rock face about ten minutes away from the farm. There, we set up four routes on the basalt and climbed all day. We learned techniques from the experienced brothers, and all belayed each other up and down the face. The grade of the routes ranged from 5.6 to 5.10 A. After climbing and fueling up on snacks, we decided to walk over to the Jose’s Nursery.  Jose is a good friend of the farm. There we learned about various trees and their uses. We each bought two trees to plant in our solo spots. We also caught trout with a rod and doe, and learned how to properly gut a fish.
Where is the next foothold?
            It sounds like a lot of activities for a week, but I assure you we did them all. These remaining days we will do our best to keep in good health and prepare for our two-week expedition. Let’s see what the rest of our time has in store. Hasta Luego!

Happy Birthday Sis- Connor

Spanish with Julia
Tragar-to devour
Holer-to smell
Ensenar-to teach
Shiram, cleaning up after milking

Quechau with Tupack


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