I don't even know where to begin this time. So much has happened that I haven't written about and there's no way to catch up, so I'll just start with recent occurrences. First, like I mentioned before, we had a gal doing GPR on the pyramid where I was working. She found the corners of the structure, which was very helpful, and also found a ... something. We couldn't tell what it was from the image, just that there was something there, so I opened a unit there on Friday. I haven't been back since they started finding something other than just plain soil, but I hear there is a sloping layer of stones that may or may not be covering something. I'll let you know more when I know.
Yesterday was the day most of the project went to Oyacachi, where they have hot springs and trout farms. I've been there twice, so I decided to help out in the lab cleaning artifacts. When I got there, though, I found out a handful of other folks were going up to Imbabura, the next state to the north, to see some interesting sites, and the guy I was going to help in the lab and I decided to tag along. We piled into the back of the pickup truck and took off, going first to the city of Ibarra to see an Inka bath house being excavated by a woman by the name of Tamara Bray. The site is fantastic. Beautiful Inka stonework floors and walls that fit together perfectly without mortar, drainage and canal systems that feed water into the middle and take it back out again, baffled stairways into the middle area... I asked if I could work with her, but then remembered I already have a job for the rest of the year. We went and got Chinese food afterwards, called chifa, and at that lunch I found out that it is absolutely legal to drink while riding in the back of a pickup truck, which we use as taxis. We grabbed some beers and headed out to the next site.
We continued north to the Lake of Blood, or Lago Yahuarcocha, the place where the Inka finally defeated the Caranqui people after years of fighting. They slaughtered the Caranqui on the shores of the lake and pushed their bodies into the water, all 20,000 or so of them. The lake turned red with their blood. Now, you can rent a swan paddle boat or ride four-wheelers on the shore or ride in a tour bus shaped like a caterpillar. Above the lake are some tolas, similar to the pyramid which I was excavating. On the road up, we passed 3 signs in a row saying entry to this road was prohibited, that it was private property. One of the other staff members commented as we continued anyway that it wasn't really private property until there was a barbed wire fence blocking the road. A minute later, we came to a barbed wire fence blocking the road. The Ecuadorian with us opened it and went onto the land to the house to find the owner and ask to look at his pyramids, but nobody was home. Apparently in Ecuador, people don't mind so much if you're just walking around on their land, and aren't likely to come out bearing a shotgun asking questions later, so we looked at the tolas and went on our way, pulling the wire back behind us.
We also went to a Caranqui fortress above the same lake, and wound our way back to the Pichincha state and home to Cangahua through tiny towns off the highways where we might find more tolas... but couldn't. One of these towns was having a fiesta on their main street so we had to take a detour, but this town also had large, foot-wide trenches going across several of the roads. Instead of covering an area of them with concrete like most towns around here do, they instead filled certain areas with rocks kind of sort of where tires might go if a vehicle were trying to cross them. Needless to say, this is not an area high in automobile traffic. But we made it, the truck stayed intact, and we are better off for it.
Today I'm in Cayambe, I took a student to the clinic to get a tetanus shot and helped the cooks get money for grocery shopping. Now I should go back and probably help at the lab for a bit. I'll write again soon.
Oh, but lastly: Last night I finalized the arrangements for my apartment for the rest of my time here. It's above a store that sells candies, grains, shampoo, beer and liquor, and other whozits that we'll need tons of. Matt (the guy I'll b working with) and I will each have our own bedrooms, there's a living space, a small lab/artifact storage space, a deck, and a roof... and on the roof is our bathroom and kitchen. We move in at the end of this week but then I think we're taking a several-day vacation, but afterwards I'll try to get pictures of the place up. It's costing us $150/month total, including all utilities and the landlord family doing our laundry. Pretty good, huh? Anyway, just wanted to update you on that. I'm excited. Plus, if anyone decides to visit, we have a place for you to stay.