Monday, August 29, 2011

A Giant Sloth

Not to far from our apartment these is a building that appears to be a Historial Center. One day coming back from a trip to Old Town we noticed this Giant Sloth. A few days later we walked that way to work so we could get some pictures. We still are not sure if this is a museum, a school or a government building but the Giant Sloth is sure fun to look at.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Happy Birthday Elder Yost and Elder Parrish

Dad´s Birthday kind of got lost in the NRT project. While we were on the trip arrangements were made to get a cake and everyone wished him a Happy Birthday. When we had the Sisters over for lunch I made a lemon cake and we again celebrated his birthday.

The Elders asked if we could do something to help celebrate Elder Parrish´s birthday, so we had them over for dinner and had Birthday Cake with candles (Dad wouldn´t let me put candles on his cake).

We ate lots of birthday cake over a few short days! Has anyone else noticed that it only takes a day or two to put on a few pounds and months to try and get it off. Life just isn´t fair.

The French Equator or The Other Middle of the Earth

A favorite view of the monument. There is a wonderful museum inside that gives information about different ethnic groups in Ecuador. There is much more to do and see here and I hope to get back soon and do more.

Charles Marie de La Condamine. He spent 10 years in and around Ecuador, his was the first scientific exploration of the Amazon River, he kept a detailed journal of his discoveries and observations. The publication of his journal sparked the interest of other Europeans and led to many other explorers, including Alexander von Humboldt, to come to this area. He was the first westerner to see a rubber tree. He studied the Cinchona tree from which quinine, an anti malarial drug, is made. He described the curare arrow poison prepared by the indians.

Pierce Bouguer

Louis Godin

Closer view of the globe on top of the monument, notice that the equator line is on it´s side, it lines up with the equator line drawn on the ground below.

Just to be sure I have actually had a foot in both hemasphiers at the same time.

A view from the top of the monument. From here the Solar Museum (GPS equator) can be seen. The scientists from France who identified this site were not to far off considering the insterments they had, but the early natives of the area seemed to have a better knowledge of exactly where the equator was.

In many pictures of Ecuador you will see this trapezoidal monument topped by a brass globe.

As I´ve said before there are two equators, well in reality there is only one, but in Ecuador there are at least two areas identified to be the equator. It seems that in 1735 there was a significant debate in France as to whether the circumference of the earth was greater around the equator or around the poles. So, two expeditions were sent out by Louis XV, King of France, one to Lapland, close to the North Pole, and the other to Ecuador, at the equator. Each team was to take measurement of the earths arcs. The measurements from these expeditions were compared to measurements taken in Paris previously. This was known as a Geodesic expedition, and if you ever want to do an interesting report for school, just google this. Pierre Bouguer, Charles Marie de La Condamine and Louis Godin measured arcs of the Earth´s curvature on the equator from the plains near Quito to the southern city of Cuenca. These measurements enabled the first accurate determination of the size of the Earth, eventually leading to the establishment of the international metric system of measurement. So this area that we visited is the site where during the 1700´s, the famous French expedition established the position of the equatorial divide on their mission to Ecuador to determine the shape of the earth. Just a note of interest, these Frenchmen proved that the earth bulges in the middle (like so many of us), and is flattened at the poles.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Elders, Hermanas, and more Elders!

On Friday night, August 19th, we took Sister Lopez and Elder Villa out to dinner. Elder Villa returned to his sector on Saturday morning, and Sister Lopez flew home to Nicaragua on Monday morning.

Elder Parrish, Elder Vergara, Elder Warr and Elder Estrada following dinner on Sunday.

Elder Vergara, Elder Villa and Elder Warr joining us for lunch.

Sister Rogers, Sister Caldwell, Sister Lopez and Sister Naylor. Sister Lopez is having problems with her knees and is staying with Sister Naylor.

Elder Vomocil, Elder Cox and Elder Hakes at their last dinner with us before returning home. Elder Villa, staying with us following surgery.

August 11,12,14, 2011
These have been exceptionally busy days. On Thursday August 11th we were asked if Elder Villa could stay with us for a week while he recovered from surgery. We had asked three Elders, who were leaving, to have dinner with us that evening. We had invited the Sisters to have lunch with us on Friday and we had invited the office Elders over for Sunday dinner as it was Elder Parrish´s birthday. Elder Villa came to the apartment about 3 in the afternoon. We prepared a chicken dinner with mashed potatoes for the Elders who came about 4:30. On Friday we made chicken soup for the Sisters including Sister Naylor and Sister Lopez, and the Assistants dropped by to check on Elder Villa so they had lunch too. Sunday we had chicken with mashed potatoes again, at the Elder´s request, for the four office Elders plus Elder Villa. All we did was cook and clean up the whole weekend. Elder Villa is doing very well and went back to his sector the following Saturday, the returning Elders are now at home and we hope doing well. We plan to ask the Sisters to dinner again sometime soon, and we have another birthday for one of the office Elders coming up so there will be more cooking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Strange Fish

Here is another interesting story on very different types of wildlife found throughout the world, or at least in Ecuador. This "cute" little fish is actually quite unique. It is really a parasite, lives in the Amazon River and can cause other fish, animals and humans lots of pain and trouble. It is called candirú, it is related to the catfish, it is also sometimes called a toothpick fish, it also has another name which I will not post on the blog. It is very small and lives in sediment on the river bottom only in the Amazon. It has a worse reputation and is more feared than the piranha. Because the gross-out quotient is so high on this one I will let those who are interested Google to find out more about it. Then you can decide if the stories are fact or fiction. Just know it is dangerous to swim in the Amazon River.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Another Visit to the Equator

There are so many interesting plants here! So many have beautiful flowers but awful thorns.

Here is a better view of the snake skins. I can´t get the whole anaconda one in the picture.

This time we were able to spend about 2 hours and take a tour, they have many displays on different tribes in Ecuador, including the tirbe that shrinks heads. I have several pictures of the process but will not post them as they are pretty graphic. Anyone who is interested can see them when we get home or I will send pictures to you personally. Notice the snake skins on the wall behind the statue. The really big one on top is an anaconda and the smaller one is a boa constrictor.

Intiñan, or way of the sun, the first name for the equator. Early inhabitants of the area understood the sun, earths orbit and the stars they even celebrated winter and summer solstice. We were also told that Quito is taken from a pre Inca word Quitsa To. It is the ancient Tsafiqui language of the Tsáchilas and means: Quitsa =middle and To= world. These early natives were pretty smart to figure that out.

This time I got a much better video of the water demonstration. It is in Spanish so I will explain. The first time he lets the water out of the tub it is on the equator and the water drains straight down, the next time the tub is about 10 feet to the south (sur) and the water drains with a clockwise twirl, and the last time the tub is 10 feet to the North (norte) and the water drains with a counter clockwise twirl. It is pretty neat to see. This is called the Coriolos effect and accounts for the direction that hurricains and typhoons turn.

Equator Water Demonstration: Which way does your water turn? from Brenda Yost on Vimeo.

We had three in our group that became "egg masters", they balanced the egg on the head of a nail. Sister Flake, Sister Reed and Dad all balanced the egg. Sorry I didn´t get a picture of Dad, I asked him to do it again so I could take a picture but he wouldn´t.

Sign as you enter the site of the GPS equator.

August 2011 NRT team at the equator.

August 5, 2011

After returning to Quito we took the team to the equator. For those who do not know there are two areas that are called the equator. Back in the 1700´s the French came to Quito to find the equator; with the instruments they had they actually did a pretty good job. Now with GPS technology the "real" equator is about 200 meters away from the one the French identified. The original site is much touristier and I got to finally visit it the next week with Sister Naylor and Sister Lopez (this will be another post). One thing I have wondered through, the natives had a temple built on the real equator, of course the Spanish destroyed it, but maybe the French could have just asked the natives, as they seemed to know exactly where it was. Seems their knowledge of the stars, earth, sun etc. was pretty right on. Maybe we need to be a little more open to learning from others even if we think they are more primitive or not as civilized.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hearing Foundation

August 30, 2011, It might have been a good thing I did this post out of order and late. There was a little bit of money left over from this project so we were able to get them a camera. It was so fun to visit, Ximena was so excited to get the camera.

It is always such a good feeling when we have completed a project and had the presentation.

Unpacking the new equipment.

Ximena Carrera S. and Dad signing the papers of receipt.

July 26, 2011

This is a bit out of order but things got really going just before NRT and I failed to get this post done. The equipment we had ordered arrived much earlier than we had been told it would and we were very excited to get it delivered. We have been working with this foundation for several months and due to a comedy of errors it seemed to take forever to get the order in and then to get it here. They were so excited to receive the equipment, now they can start testing children for hearing problems. We asked if we could come to one of the screenings, so I hope to have some pictures of the audiometer in use sometime in the future.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Tsa´chila "Tolon-Pele"

Beautiful sunset at the Tsa´chila Village.

Such an interesting culture, we feel we have met new friends. The tatoo looking stripes are for protection. They are painted on using juice from a plant, they go on clear and darken in the sun, they usually last about 7-10 days.

Dancing seems to be a large part of most cultures, again we are dancing with the natives.

Toddlers are kept in this "play pen" while mothers are busy cooking or doing other chores. This protects them from getting into the fire or wandering off.

This may be the original baby swing. The baby is placed in the cloth that is tied to a tree limb which can be bounced or swung.

Traditional dress, the men wear a black and white cloth with the red waist band, symbolic of the snake, the women wear a multi colored cloth symbolic of the rainbow. The women weave these cloths and the weaving is beautiful. He is demonstrating a bird trap.

Trying our hand at throwing a spear. Good thing we can shop for our food because we might get real hungry if we had to hunt for food this way. You know what they say, vegetarian is another name for bad hunter.

Again I fell in love with the children. They are learning the ways of their people, classrooms have been built as part of this project and the children are learning "tsafiqui", their native language.

These leaves are used for cooking, the fish is wrapped in a leaf and placed on the fire to cook. Amazing how native peoples have learned to use the resources available for all their needs.

Tolon-Pele means the mythical tree. This tree is huge and the people appear to worship it. They say there is no other trees like it. They appear to be a spiritual people with a mixture of ancestor worship, nature worship and a belief in a Great Spirit. I found the tree interesting in two ways, 1. It reminided me Avatar and the Home Tree, and 2. I thought of the tree of life in Lehi´s dream.

Sampeling some of the sweet juice.

Dad got in on some of this action!

Extracting the sweet juice from a sugar cane. This seems to be more of a game than work.

The Tsa´chila are known as herbalists and their shamans are believed to have healing powers. They had a pot of various leaves cooking on the fire, in each hole was other leaves, the hot water was poured into the hole, then a hot rock from the fire was placed in the hole. The steam had a pleasant order, they indicated that one would sit with a blanket over them and breath the steam to cure illness. They do seem to have a great knowledge of the jungle plants and their uses.

When the Spanish arrived they brought with them smallpox, many of the indians died,a shaman prayed to the great spirit and the next morning the sun was shining on an achiote bush, the people took the seed pod and removed the berries inside, crushed them and then covered their bodies with the red juice. The death rate decreased and they felt this was an answer from the great spirit. Now the men in the tribe use the juice to color their hair in rememberance. The Spanish called them "los Colorados" because of the red skin. The area is known as Santo Domingo de los Colorados.

Our guide for the tour, the women wear tops for the tourists sake, there is only so much cultural shock one can be expected to deal with. This tribe was described in journals from the 1600´s but it wasn´t until the 1950´s that "civilzation" came to the Santo Domingo area with the building of roads. It was an isolated area because of the high mountains that had to be crossed to get here.

August 3, 2011

Again, following our first day of training we took a trip, this time we visited a Tsa´chila Indian Village. These little side trips are called cultural experiences and are part of what we provide for the teams that come to Ecuador to do projects. This is a village we had heard about and I was so excited to be able to go and see it. I was not disappointed, it was fabulous. The people are trying to preserve their culture and way of life, although it seems a hard way of life to me, so their children will know their roots and be proud of their hearitage. There were about 20,000 Tsa´chilas when the Spanish came, there are now 2,000 in 8 small reservations. Tsa´chila means "true people" or the "true word". Kind of makes me wonder if there are some Book of Mormon roots in their history. They took us through so many different aspects of their daily life, I´ll try to share some of it. I did do some vidios but this post is getting very long so I will post the vidio at a later time.