Ecuador’s Indigenous Protest Mining in the Amazon Rainforest

March 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

Indigenous women perform a ritual during a march in Ecuador to protest against the policies of President Rafael Correa which they say will result in more mining in the Amazon region and threaten the environment and their way of life.

Protests in Ecuador yesterday shut down the capital city of Quito while indigenous protested the governments signing of new mining contracts.  The Amazon Rainforest is one of the most bio-diverse areas in the world.  As the largest tract of tropical rainforest in the Americas, one in 10 species in the world can be found within the Amazon Basin.

This area is also home to a number of indigenous groups, including groups within the Brazilian Amazon which have remained without contact from the outside world.  For decades the Amazon Region has also been exploited for its wealth of natural resources including deforestation, oil production, and mining operations.

Environmentalists are concerned about loss of biodiversity that will result from destruction of the forest, and also about the release of the carbon contained within the vegetation, which could accelerate  global warming.  As regions within the Amazon Basin continue to succumb to eco-side the many of the indigenous groups from the area have become the voice for the Amazon through community based conservation efforts.


Could Advil Ease Hikers’ Altitude Ills?

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

By Dr. JESSICA ROSE, ABC News Medical Unit:

Larry Stack, 51, knew something was wrong as he ascended a mountain on a recent climbing trip to Quito, Ecuador.

“I had had shortness of breath on trips before, but this was different,” said Stack, who is a physician. “I developed a headache, and felt like I was going to pass out.”

Stack’s experience during his rapid ascent may be a familiar hazard to many of the millions of Americans who trek up the side of a mountain each year. He was experiencing acute mountain sickness. Commonly referred to as altitude sickness, it is a serious condition — and in its worst form, it is potentially deadly.

Now, new research published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine suggests that those who climb may do well to add a bottle of ibuprofen, a common anti-inflammatory painkiller, to their hiking packs.

Ibuprofen is  available over the counter and is perhaps most widely known by the brand names Advil and Motrin — although it is available in numerous other formulations as well.

Study author Dr. Grant Lipman, an emergency medicine physician at Stanford University, first noted a decrease in the symptoms of acute mountain sickness — dizziness, fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting — while researching a previous group of study participants at high altitude.

“We saw that ibuprofen helped headache and, as a secondary finding, decreased the symptoms of acute mountain sickness,” Lipman said.

He then tested this hypothesis using 86 volunteers. Each was given either ibuprofen or a placebo pill just before a summer climb in the White Mountains of California. Lipman’s group found that those hikers taking ibuprofen were three times less likely to develop altitude sickness than those who took the dummy pill.

Currently, there are two commonly used treatments for altitude sickness, and both require a trip to the doctor’s office for a prescription.  Dexamethasone, a steroid, and acetazolamide, a diuretic or “water pill,” both have significant side effects.

During his experience with altitude sickness, Stack took acetazolamide, but he did not like the side effects, which included excessive urination and a “weird taste.” His altitude sickness sent him to a local emergency room where he had an extensive workup — a CT scan, X-rays and an evaluation by a heart doctor.  After several days, his symptoms resolved, but the current study suggests that taking ibuprofen could have helped him avoid these problems in the first place.

However, more studies may be needed to convince some physicians that this inexpensive, easy-to-administer pill should change the way they advise mountain climbers.

“Based on just one study, I’d be hesitant to recommend the use of ibuprofen for those at risk of acute mountain sickness, but I admit if I were traveling to the mountains, I’d be sure to have a supply of ibuprofen in my carry-on bag,” said Dr. Richard O’Brien, an emergency physician at Moses Taylor Hospital in Scranton, Pa.

If one thing is certain, it is that those who experience these symptoms should seek help — and quickly. Emergency physicians said acute mountain sickness, if not treated, could lead to breathing problems, brain swelling, and death.  Descending to a lower altitude at the first sign of distress is crucial.

“Unfortunately, every year there are climbers who die of high altitude cerebral edema [brain swelling] who took medications and pushed ahead on their ascent, instead of recognizing and acknowledging their symptoms and descending while they still had the opportunity,” said Dr. Gabe Wilson, associate medical director at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital’s emergency department.


We highly recommend discussing any treatments or ailments you may have with your physician prior to traveling

Tour a Panama Hat Factory in Sigsig Ecuador

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

by Libby Zay

First popularized by President Theadore Roosevelt and worn by countless travelers ever since, the Panama hat has become a symbol of coastal and tropical locales. Nothing screams I’m on vacation somewhere warm! quite like the straw hat, which is known for being breathable and able to return to its original shape after being folded in a suitcase. But what is not as well known is that Panama hats don’t actually come from their namesake country. The hats actually originated in Ecuador, but were mistakenly called Panama hats because they were shipped through the Isthmus of Panama before making it to locations across the rest of the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Panama hats are still made throughout Ecuador, where Ecuadorians call the hats sombreros de paja toquilla (or “hats of toquilla straw”). Anyone selling the hats at markets or in shopping malls, however, is well aware that tourists often ask for them by the name “Panama hat.” Several towns are famous for the production of the hats, including the small town of Sigsig in the Andes Mountains near the colonial city of Cuenca. It is possible to take an hour-long bus ride from Cuenca to Sigsig to visit a Panama hat company owned and operated by indigenous Ecuadorians who work directly with wholesalers. There, you can see women with amazingly nimble fingers as they weave the hats. Remarkably, each hat takes a single weaver several days to make. While there, you can get a good deal on a hat of your own or purchase other items made out of straw — including bowls, boxes and coasters — from a small company store. There’s also a nice photo op in front of a giant Panama hat in the courtyard of the warehouse.

Quito Tour Bus

December 14, 2011 § Leave a comment

teaser quito tour bus from santiago proaño on Vimeo

A new option for travelers wanting to tour the Quito began this month with the Quito Tour Bus.  Located high in the Andes Mountains, Quito is the capital of Ecuador and a UNESCO world heritage site.  Acclaimed as the best preserved colonial city in Latin America, the old city of Quito is a beautiful city with cobblestone streets, large parks, fountain filled plazas and art filled churches.

The Quito Tour Bus makes it possible for visitors to view the wonders of Quito on a safe and comfortable double decker bus.  The service which began on December 1st offers a multilingual tour of Quito and the unlimited ability to hop on and off during the day.

The bus stops at twelve different locations along a pre-determined route that features the modern financial district of Avenida Naciones Unidas to the Historic Old City and runs between 9am and 7pm.  As well as a night route that departs at 7pm.  The cost of the bus is $12 per person with a 50% discount for children and the elderly.

The service is similar to the Guayaquil Vision Tour service available in Guayaquil and the two services currently operating in Lima.

Series of Earthquakes in Ecuador Cause No Damage

November 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seven earthquakes up to magnitude 5.5 rocked Ecuador in a span of eight hours with no reports of casualties or damage, authorities said Thursday.The Geophysical Institute said the earthquakes whose magnitudes ranged from 3.8 to 5.5, were recorded between Wednesday night and   Thursday morning.

The epicenters of six earthquakes were located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador, while the other was located in the coastal province of Manabi (southwest), according to the agency.The authorities added that the magnitude 5.5, occurred to the premises on Wednesday 8:57pm local time, was felt  along the coast of Ecuador in the cities of Manta and Bahia de Caraquez, both in Manabi.

Meanwhile, the Navy Oceanographic Institute of Ecuador (INOC) ruled out the possibility that a tsunami is generated in the national coasts and islands of the Galapagos Ecuador (1,000 km from the shore).

On 29 October, an earthquake of magnitude 4 strongly shook Quito and its environs, causing no casualties but some damage. That same day two other tremors were unrelated to the first.

The Ecuadorian government plans to issue housing standards at the high seismic risk that is registered in the country, located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire, an area sensitive to seismic activity.


Ecuador to Host Prehistoric Peoples Symposium

October 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

From Gentle Bien

Organizers announced today The first international symposium ‘first settlement prehispanic States of America “will be held in Ecuador from 26 to 28 October with the participation of experts from seven countries.

The president of the cultural organization Ciudad Alfaro, Tatiana Hidrovo, said in press statements that participate in the conclave archaeologists from Argentina, Ecuador, United States, England, Mexico, Russia and Venezuela, who “socialize the latest research on indigenous peoples the continent”.

The meeting be held at the archaeological site of your organization, located in Manta, 350 miles southwest of Quito.

At the conference, archaelogists will discuss the processes that affected the initial peopleof the Americas and the subsequent emergence of states, before the Spanish arrived.

In particular, the exhibitors will be reflections of the phenomenon seen from the perspective of current that may have come from Asia and the Pacific coast.

They also focus the political tradition of the Maya and the spatial distribution of settlements, seen from the ethnohistory and formations ‘pre-state’ and the mode of production in Venezuela Hispanic.

In addition, the settlement of South America, from the perspective of Central America and the southern coast of South America and the people who lived in coastal Ecuador in the modern day province of Manabi and their migration to what is now Ecuador’s capital, Quito.

The event is organized by City Alfaro, cultural organization that works in the place where it ran the National Constituent Assembly (2007-2008) and the University Laica Eloy Alfaro of Manabi.

Ecuador, announced it will present results of archaeological work site and Jaboncillo Leaf Hills (Manabi), where there are remnants of the complex state system developed Cancebí maintain society.

Hacienda Pesillo

September 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Martí Quintana

The Ecuadorian hacienda Pesillo, built on the land once owned by conquistador Francisco Pizarro and was also the birthplace of the movement for the liberation of indigenous people in the early twentieth century, will be restored after decades of neglect to regain their social and symbolic value.

Built in the seventeenth century, the house fell into disuse in the mid-twentieth century and was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1987.

 The Ecuadorian government will invest more than $ 2.5 million (approximately $ 3.4 million) in the recovery of this architectural jewel, which in its three patios, several rooms and porches, drink and colonial styles, Renaissance and Romanesque.

“There are many purposes to improve the quality of life of indigenous people and farmers in the area, but also entails a historical and heritage value,” he told Efe coordinator of Ecuador’s Ministry of Heritage, María Fernanda Espinosa.

After the reconstruction, the space will include everything from a medical center, rooms for training sessions with the villagers, an administrative area, a museum, a collection center of the milk produced in the area, and even an inn, where the inhabitants work area.

The hacienda and its green areas have 12,000 square meters and stands on land that belonged to Pizarro, who in the sixteenth century was defeated the Inca Empire, which encompassed the Ecuadorian Andes.

The estate was managed by the Catholic Order of Mercy and parents also hosted a “two indigenous women struggling for the right to land and for Indian education,” which were “concerning the struggles in Latin America,” according Espinosa. It was Amaguaña and Dolores Cacuango Transit, who fought the early twentieth century Indian exploitation from this corner of Canton Cayambe, Ecuador’s florist center today in the Andes.

Therefore, the historian Maria Elena Porras highlights the historical significance of the place, where in his opinion “originate indigenous movements’ in Ecuador.

Its restoration “is the accumulation of all these productivity gains, cultural and social factors that are of direct impact for 5,000 people in the community and 20,000 people across the region,” Echevarria said Oswaldo, a resident of Pesillo who participated in the development of project.

Judging by the state of some walls and ceilings, practically in ruins, as experts say, the work will be arduous.

“We must rehabilitate the structures that make these materials, flooring (floor), decks and walls, many of whom were collapsed, with cracks in the roofs, poor drainage and engineering,” remarked the director of Project Ministry of Heritage, Joaquin Moscoso.

Beyond the symbolic recovery, several neighbors said they hoped Pesillo that this work is also a boost for the area to prevent the migration of young people to other places in Ecuador or abroad.

“As there are no jobs many people most migrate,” said Toribio Compues, who wished that the Hacienda Pesillo would include a school and college.

 The inhabitants of this place also hope that there are “medical services, sports centers and parks,” concluded Juan Lechón, another neighbor, who said the proposal is, above all, “very good for tourism.”

Hacienda Pesillo is located in the Pinchincha Province north of Quito near the town of Cayambe.

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