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March 27, 2010

New View

The view from the Instituto window, for those wondering, is of Pinchincha, the volcano looming over Quito. But I've now got new digs and a new view, for a couple of days. Man, I'm spoiled.

I spent yesterday at the Instituto with a break to go with Gorki to meet my host family. I thought of them as a family I was staying with until meeting them, and now they're very much my host family. Rosi mothers me, and thank goodness, because I seem to need it. Amazingly enough, I've been refusing food, which she then encourages me into taking until I do, and it's a good thing because those who know me at all know I need to be adequately fed to be happy. Or, more importantly, for those around me to be happy.

Anyway, I can't say enough about Rosi and Modesto right now, and I don't have any pictures of them or of the place yet, unfortunately, so I'll just have to leave you wondering. Suffice it to say for now that they are immersed in the cultural world of Quito, have fantastic taste in music, and have an even more fantastic view from their living room. And, that they are super nice. I'm in good hands. I had to call Rosi today from my new cell phone to let her know I'd arrived safely in Banos.

Right. So I was set to spend the weekend in Quito but then Pete, of the Instituto, said, Why don't you go out and meet Patty (his wife and my main contact in organizing this whole shindiggity) and Lorena at Tungurahua, and then come back with them on Tuesday in time to catch the main processions in Quito? Well, yes, I thought, why don't I? (More on the processions later in the week.) So I walked home before dark, buying a low-end cell phone and some phone credit along the way (it's almost like I belong here now) (already), and spent the evening unpacking and packing. I had dinner with Rosi and we both conked out early, and I slept like... a very sleepy baby with lots of blankets over it/me.

And today I caught a taxi to a bus to Banos (it has a tilde on the 'n' but I don't know how to get those characters). Where Patty met me in the Instituto truck (red with a logo with an erupting volcano on the side), at which point I called Rosi to let her know I was safe.

[View from Banos.]

We made it to the observatory for lunch with Lorena (electronics / telecommunications) and after a tour of the data flow and a coffee with a stray kitten curled up on my lap, Lorena and I took the newly rescued dog--one of three--on a walk past the neighboring chicken factories. I'll get some pictures of those later (Food, Inc., anyone?). And a picture of the volcano. It's mostly covered in clouds right now.

[This is the best I could do. The volcano is still mostly clouded, but you get the idea. And, you can see the roof of one of the chicken houses--number 5, apparently.]

So, right, my new view is of Tungurahua. Check it out on Google Earth. Do a search on Tungurahua, then click on a link to Banos which should show up somewhere on the screen, and then look south south-west from Banos. The long, dirty cloud is the volcano's plume. Things have been quiet recently but there were small ash eruptions earlier this year. I'm hoping for some modest activity while I'm here. Patty and Lorena felt three earthquakes a couple nights ago, all over magnitude 4, I think. But none were related to the volcano--there are tons of faults in the area, too, due to the whole region being squished.

[One must shower before entering the chicken houses, so as not to contaminate the chickens.]

[The control room... or, rather, the information-gathering room at the observatory.]

[Pulga, or Flea, one of the three observatory dogs. For those of you who know Lilo...a little Lilo-esque, no? If Lilo were wearing a black coat?]

[The Instituto truck. Note volcano logo.]

I'll close with both the cutest and the most disgusting things I saw today, both of which were in the yard behind the observatory and both of which have to do with dogs. Which would you like first? How about I just let you decide which is which. 1) A neighbor boy practicing soccer with a three-month-old puppy in tow. 2) Pulga, the observatory dog named Flea, eating a dead chicken stolen from the chicken factory reject pile down the drive.

Posted by beth at March 27, 2010 11:08 PM

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Ah, observatory living. Glad to hear that the "What's grosser than gross?" game is applicable at observatories around the world. Awesome pics!

Posted by: Sarah at March 29, 2010 12:04 AM

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