16 August 2009

Nearly finishing Quitoloma, new negotiations.

Hello, all. First big news is that we got the internet at our apartment. It's a modem that uses cell phone signal, so it costs less, I think, than bringing an internet line into this town. Anyway, it's convenient, and that's what counts. We can bring this with us anywhere in the country and have internet, it's nice.

Next is that we're almost done with Quitoloma. We've completed our shovel test pits (basically, small pits at regular intervals that are roughly the size of a shovel that are meant to see where-ish artifacts are) and for the most part found what we expected: artifacts can be found where excavations have been done there in the past. However, there were 2 test pits that had artifacts in them in areas where there has been no excavation, so we are taking the next 5 days to put units in at these points and find out if there is anything of interest. We'll be done with our first fortress Friday.

Yesterday, we met with the Pambamarca Community to try to get access to their three sites, Campana Pucará, Censo Pucará, and Pinan. Campana has been excavated before by the project, I worked there a bit in 2007 and I believe they excavated at least once before then... Censo and Pinan have only been surveyed and mapped, no ground has been broken. Our friend Milton, one of the taxi drivers here in Cangahua, knows the president of the Pambamarca Community and mentioned to us that they had spoken, and the president wants us to work there. Easy, right?

We drive on up the mountain to the community and call the president, and he tells us he is in the communal house and we can meet him there. Matt, Ave and I expect this to be like the meeting we had with Chumillos, where we spoke with the president and a few community higher-ups. We walk into the house to find the entire adult population of the community there having a meeting. A bit spooked, we waited for our turn to speak.

Ave, being Ecuadorian, did the talking for us. She explained what we wanted to do, digging shovel test pits on the 3 fortresses that they own and then doing targeted excavation based on these pits, and that we would like to hire community members to help us with the work. The first few questions from the community were simple to answer, and things seemed to be going fine. Then one man piped up who was very against us working in the community; he asked why we needed to take the artifacts away to a lab, what we could be doing with them instead of leaving them there where they belong; he said that taking these artifacts, "the riches of our ancestors," out of the ground kept the crops from growing, and made the rains stop. He was starting to rally supporters, raising all kinds of questions of why a huge group of folks from the US would care at all about their ancestors, and that we must be here to make money. Luckily the president was on our side, explained that we are not keeping the crops from growing, and the change in rain patterns is a result of climate change, not archaeology. Ave explained that there are just two of us here to work, and that after everything is analyzed and recorded they are not brought back to the US, but are the property of Ecuador. The president of the community brought up the idea to the people gathered that once they know more about the sites, which we could do for them, they could be made into tourist destinations like Quitoloma has been for Chumillos. This could obviously bring in some money for the community, plus they would know more about the sites in their own backyards. The community liked this, and when it was put to a vote, the decision was made to allow us access to all three sites, procided we hire 6 workers per day and give the community $500 to build facilities for tourists, such as a kiosk/ticket booth and the like. We happily agreed, shook hands, and wrote down our phone numbers.

The night before, Matt and I had been discussing a book we have called Culture Shock! Ecuador. It's a book that tells about cultural behaviors and such to help folks fit in to Ecuador better, and also to understand the people. This series has books about other countries as well, and even some cities (such as Chicago). At one point in the book, the author tells about trying to leave the country after his visa had expired and having trouble with customs at the airport. Eventually, the security guard asked him for some money for a cola, as a way of asking for a bribe. $20 later, the author was allowed to board the plane and leave the country. Matt and I were talking about how we had never heard anything like that and this must be a coastal thing (the author was in Guayaquil), and had satisfied ourselves with this conclusion. Sure enough, though, as we concluded negotiations with Pambamarca and were readying ourselves to leave, we were asked for some money for some cola. Amazed at the timing and elated to have gotten these negotiations done in one hour (Chumillos had taken 3 meetings over 2 weeks), we happily contributed to their soft drink fund. Everything was taken care of, and we walked out of the house with smiles across our faces.

As we walked toward the truck, though, we were hailed by the dissenters, the folks who didn't want us to work and had walked out after the vote went in our favor. The five of them were standing in a circle around the side of the building, talking amongst themselves and awaiting our departure. They had a few more requests of us in order to be happy with us working there. They wanted a couple of English textbooks so that they could learn some, which we readily agreed to. They also wanted paint for their cistern up the hill, which we also agreed to. Next they wanted us to buy a fence to enclose said cistern, and money to buy a water purification system in order to have potable water. As these were much more money-intensive, we told them we'd consider and tell them for sure when we come back to start work on the 24th. We'll crunch some numbers and see what we can do.

Afterwards we came back to Cangahua and had to backfill a unit on Pukarito, down the hill, that had been left open from the field school. I made dinner, spaghetti with mushroom sauce and garlic bread, and it was fantastic and we went to bed satisfied after watching The 13th Warrior. All in all a good weekend.

I've also put up as many pictures as I think I will until I take more, so go ahead and follow that link from the last post and take a gander. Hope all is well where you are, I'll talk to you soon.

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