Ecuador 2013

Study abroad ecuador 2013 from Cyndi Bellacero

Here is just a brief taste of what was in store for our 2013 participants.

San Francisco de Quito (Quito, Ecuador)

“Quito – Franciscan capital of Ecuador, Luz de América, ancient capital of the northern realm of the Incan empire, Patrimonio de la Humanidad – lies at 2,800 meters above sea level in a high valley at the base of Mount Pichincha about 15 miles south of the equator.  Why is it called “Franciscan”?  Its full and formal name is “San Francisco de Quito”, reflecting both its Spanish and Incan origins.  Franciscan monks accompanied the Spanish conquistadors and founded one of America’s first Catholic churches (begun in 1584), in what is now called the Plaza de San Francisco, in the heart of colonial Quito.  Furthermore, the word Franciscan as an adjective in the Spanish language denotes peacefulness, a quality for which Quito was known for many years.  The name “Quito” is derived from the name of the indigenous group, the Quitus, which dominated that region of the Andes before their conquest by the Incas.

Luz de América, the “Light” or “Beacon” of America, refers to the fact that the city council of Quito was the first in Hispanoamérica to declareits independence from Spain.  In colonial times Quito had the reputation as a renowned political and cultural center in all of what is now called Latin America.  It has been an artistic, architectural and literary center for many years.  Quito’s Spanish founding was made on the ruins of the Incan capital’s northern domain.

In the early 1980s, Quito was designated by UNESCO of the United Nations as Patrimonio de la Humanidad in recognition of the preservation of its colonial heritage, essentially expressed in the architecture of the old city.

Located in the inter-Andean valley, Quito is a city of sun and sky, surrounded by mountains, with three snow-capped volcanoes in view on a clear day.  Its climate has been described by many as eternal spring, due to its location close to the equator at high altitude.  It has a daily average temperature of about 65° F, with daytime highs around 75° F and early morning lows around 45° F.  Absolute highs reach 85° F and lows about 40° F on rare occasions.  The seasons are called winter and summer, terms that refer to rainy and dry seasons rather than variations in temperature.  Some say that the climate at this altitude in the Andes includes all four seasons each day because of the wide variation in temperature.  At 3:00 a.m. winter begins, between 6:00 and 9:30 you have spring, from 9:30 until 4:00 p.m. you are in summer and the you begin fall.  Even the rainy season normally includes sunny mornings.

As the capital city of Ecuador, Quito has relatively good communication links to the rest of the country.  It is the financial, political and administrative center of the country.  Slightly over a million people live in present-day Quito.  As is typical of Latin American cities, the population density is high, relative to U.S. standards. But, somehow, Quito retains a small city atmosphere -probably because you can still walk to many places you need to go.  Ownership of a car is not a must.  Distances are short and the bus system is quite extensive.

Quito is a blend of modern and traditional culture, with strong Spanish, indigenous, U.S. and northern European influences.  It has stark contrasts between colonial and modern architecture, rich and poor neighborhoods, “upper” and “lower” socioeconomic classes.  It is cosmopolitan and small-town (almost rural) at the same time.  Mountains and valleys, volcanoes, rivers, and varied plant life provide spectacular scenery in the area of Quito.  Picturesque scenes abound.  Don’t forget your camera! !”*

* Description by Manchester College

Some activities we enjoyed while in Quito:

  • Visit the Mitad del Mundo, the middle of the world to learn about life on the equator
  • Visit Calderon, famous for the colorful and popular bread dough figures with traditional indigenous costumes and religious representations
  • Visit the Flower Trail: The fertile volcanic earth, lying directly beneath the equatorial sun, fed by natural springs
  • Visit the lake & volcano of Cuicocha
  • visit San Antonio de Ibarra to try the famous “helado de paila” and also visit the woodcarving with local artisans.
  • Take a walking tour of the city center to see the colonial architecture
  • Spanish classes, service projects, plus so much more!

Cotopaxi National Park

Cotopaxi National Park was created in 1975 as a protected area for the volcanoes and lakes within it.  An impressive array of animals live within the 34,000-hectare park such as condors, pumas, spectacled bears, Andean foxes, orange-headed caracaras (a specie of endemic to the region), llamas, frogs, paramo, humming birds and many others.  This park also has an important collection of lakes and mountain peaks. One the most outstanding of these is Limpiopungo Lake, which reflects in its waters majestic Rumiñahui 4,757 metres high; Santo Domingo Lake, surrounded by walls on Incan stone, the ruins of pucarás (Incan forts) and other stone platforms which are thought to have been built by Pre-Colombian shepherds.

Cotopaxi itself is a volcano located 17 mi south of Quito.  Cotopaxi has one of the few equatorial glaciers in the world. The mountain is clearly visible on the skyline from Quito. It is part of the chain of volcanoes around the Pacific plate known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. Cotopaxi is the second highest peak in the country, reaching a height of 19,347 ft.  It is the second most popular destination in Ecuador.

Cloud Forest, Tandayapa Ecuador

Cloud forests, subtropical rain forests, cloak the steep slopes of the Andes from about 900 meters to about 2500 meters. They are forests of high biodiversity, with a profusion of little-studied wildlife and plants.  Bellavista Cloud Forest Reserve is an ecolodge spanning 700 hectares.  Bellavista is at the southern edge of the Choco/Andean hotspots of biodiversity – that stretches from south western Colombia to northwestern Ecuador. Bellavista and the Tandayapa Valley boasts over 330 recorded species of birds… and the list continues to grow! Bellavista’s resident mammals include the endangered Spectacled Bear, as well as the puma, Andean coati and tayra, to name a few.

Otavalo, Ecuador

Located 2 hours north of Quito, Otavalo boasts a world famous indian market, surrounded by villages that follow ancient weaving practices that supply much of the textiles sold in the market.  The history of the textiles goes back to Spanish colonial days when land around Quito was granted to various people, including one Rodrigo de Salazar who had the grant at Otavalo. He set up a weaving workshop, using the Otavaleño Indians, already skilled weavers, as the workforce. Over the years, with imported new techniques and tools from Spain, the weavers at Otavalo supplied most of the textiles used throughout South America. Otavaleños wear clothing distinctive to their area. Embroidered blouses, beaded necklaces and skirts for women, while men wear their long hair in braids and wear white trousers, ponchos and sandals.

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Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
Email: bellaceroc@cravencc.edu
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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