Friday, January 9, 2009

Indigenas and Exercise

Public Service Announcement: I feel a bit like the folks at public radio; I put this stuff up and have no idea how many people are reading it. I have gotten some lovely comments, cheering and questions from several folks, and I am realizing that I greatly look forward to seeing that a comment has been added. It's the lifeblood for me, folks; if you want me to write, write me! If you don't have and don't want a google account, email me your question or comment. Like they say on OPB - do your part!

Brother John asked about the famed Otavalo market. Well, I haven't been here for a weekend yet, but by all accounts it rocks. And the 7-day a week market is dang impressive. I'm guessing that Saturday in Otavalo will be like August in Hood River: don't go downtown much, stick to the outskirts, hunker down until the wave passes. Like a duck-diving surfer. We'll see.

This brings me to topic 1 today. (No photos on this topic; photos go with topic 2. Hang in there.) The indigenous people of the Ecuadorian Andes are, if you can believe it, thriving. Have you ever seen those two words together in a sentence? I'm totally interested in this. It appears that the craft market draw of Otavalo (handicrafts of all kinds - gourd painting, stringed and wind instruments, fabrics, clothing, hats, jewelry - has somehow not been coopted by the anglos and that the indigenous (I like the word Andinas (Andean people)) folks have organized and own the joint. They dress in traditional clothes (including the schoolkids, who wear the school uniform skirt like an apron over their long navy dresses), but drive cars - some nice cars - and run the show. It reminds a lot of meeting the CEO of Good Shepherd hospital in Illinois during my consulting days; she was a diminutive nun in a habit. Perhaps the best example I've yet seen of this juxtaposition is a woman about my age trooping down the street in full traditional garb, with an new Abercrombie and Fitch sweatshirt overtop to ward of the am chill. So cool to see natives making it economically. And this seems to translate into cultural vibrancy as well. Tons of folks speak Kichwa at home and on the street, there are parks in town named things like Ruminahui (and not just Pizarro etc.) I'm getting to help a fellow record in English a reading of a Kichwa folk tale that he has already recorded in Kichwa and Spanish. Fun!

Topic 2: All who know us know that exercise is an important part of the equation for Kristen and myself. We certainly didn't bring our bikes in the "Pile o' baggage" (previous post), so how's it going? Well, Kristen had taken control of the kitchen for this chapter, and last night she quipped "I'm learning how feed a family of four on five miles a day" Lots of opportunity to walk to market, school, internet phone store, everywhere. I have been hitting the municipal stadium a bit in the am (photo) and found some boys to run around with. At 6:30 in the morning, at least for the last 4 mornings, there are maybe 75 folks getting it done in the stadium: aerobics (photo) to rocking music, calesthentics, jogging, awesome. And not all skinny young people. There some old and some round folks out there keeping body and mind healthy. It's super fun to see a culture of fitness; it reminds me a lot of some European communities I've seen. And then peeled or squeezed oranges afterwards (photo). And I couldn't resist two photos of the back stretch of the track: hand painted on the wall are the start (salida)and finish (llegada) of the 100m.

Woof. Enough. Thanks for the interest. And comments! P


Brother David said...

In line with the earlier shout out (thanks, Kristen) re: your email struggles, I'd like to hear more about the technology. I remember being shocked, during a trip to Brazil in 1999, upon walking into a youth hostel to see a) an internet connected computer and b) a note board covered with notes that said, "Bob – sorry I missed you in Rio. I’m headed to Salvador on 12/16. Email me when you get there." Or "R – text me when you get to town." Needless to say, I had one of those, 'when I was a kid, we walked 5 miles each way to school, uphill' moments. I mean, half of the experience of backpacking/eurailing/gap-yearing around the world was that scary/exhilarating experience of being off the grid. We were heading off into the wild blue yonder, and it was definitely 'don’t call me – because you won’t be able to – I’ll call you!'

About as advanced as it got for me was having an Amex card (that our boy Geoff got for me on his account) that allowed me to cash personal checks at Amex offices and pick up mail if I could plan things out well enough to get the letters to the right city. I feel like the experience is fundamentally different these days.

So to hear that you're – from my perspective – close to the other end of the earth and yet you’re able to be so wired is very interesting to me. Was one of your criteria in choosing a town that it have enough infrastructure to provide internet and/or wireless access? Or am I out of touch and in fact there is no such thing any more as a place without those options? Do tell.


Chuck W said...

I recall that one of the neat things about Otavalo was how well the indigenous folks are part of / running the local economy. I don't recall that being the same farther south in the country, where the poverty starts to seem more south-Asia-esque and you rarely see a kid without a runny nose and a protruding belly. I wonder how the Otavalo scene came to be, since it seems to be the exception, not the rule.

Exercise: when we lived in the outskirts of Quito, we found a running route that quickly headed out into the campo. I would run by kids squatting in the gutter and tiny women carrying my weight in firewood. After about a week, I just couldn't do it anymore - I felt so bloody disrespectful. Fortunately, we had an abundance of exercise on the volcanoes on the weekend, but I never figured out the regular exercise scene. Sue suited up and headed to the public pools, which worked in the short term, but she eventually became so sick it triggered her celiac. Yikes. The local track oval sounds ideal!

Latest Comments