04 October 2009

Quito vacation

Sorry it's been so long since I've written again. Lots going on.

After working at Campana Pucará we started our shovel test pits on Tabla Rumi, a fortress never before excavated by archaeologists. Didn't find much except for in 3 of the test pits, where we found tons. In one test pit we found pieces of pottery that fit to about half of the rim of the pot and that included a part where a handle used to be. Our workers were nice and happy and everything was going fine.

Problem is, the rainy season hasn't started yet. It was suppsed to start on the 15th of September, at which time it did rain for 2 days, but it hasn't since. There are a couple folks in Pambamarca that don't want us there (even though the vast majority of the community does) and they used this to talk to their peers about why we shouldn't be there. They said because we're taking the gold and other riches of their ancestors out of the ground the rains aren't coming and the crops aren't growing. Of course, when they talk to us, they say that if we pay them shittons of money (they said for us to have come from the US to work, the fortresses must be worth millions, so we can buy them to work on them) then there won't be a problem with a community. Obviously these folks don't actually believe the superstitions they're telling their fellow community members, but some of the others do and that's not good for us.

We called the president of Monteserrin Alto, the community that owns Tabla Rumi, last Sunday to thank him for a good week's work, tell him our plan for the next week to finish that fortress, etc. He cut us off mid-sentence to say we were no longer permitted to work because the people from Pambamarca had come to their community to tell them the lies they had come up with about us. We came to Quito and talked with the INPC (National Institute of Cultural Heritage) about what they could do to help, and they basically said they couldn't do much. So then we went to talk to the Ministry of Culture (basically the Dept of Homeland Security where the INPC is the TSA) and talked to their head guy, Florencio Delgado. He was very sympathetic to our cause and realizes the problem with losing so much time and put a team on our case to not only talk to the INPC but also to the communities we are having issues with. We heard from them Friday saying that it'll take more time, though, because the indigenous are pretty miffed at the government at the moment due to a new water law that takes away a lot of their autonomy.

So... I'm in Quito. More precisely, the Valle de los Chillos, a valley below the city, staying with Ave's family. Much cheaper this way. I did spend a night in Quito's colonial section, though, just to see what it was like. It was nice, went to the Basilica and some other places around there, walked around looking at the colonial architecture. It was awesome. Haven't really been doing much else, just enjoying a vacation and relaxing in a town other than Cangahua. But I'm doing well, I'm abolutely safe, and I'll let you all know when I know more.

Hope all's well at home.

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