For those interested in the soccer score, the Imbabura tem defeated the national tem 1 to 0.The entire game was accompanied by the oldest brass band in the free world, who only knew one song.The magic of the Andes only added to the excitement of this game. The play was VICIOUS!!! After the game, Dr.David Coffey picked us up in Otavalo where he was touring with 22 students from Western Kentucky University, and we returned to Quito.
The next morning we were off to Santo Domingo. We will go from 12,500 ft. down to 300 ft. above sea level. As we descend, the terrain changes dramatically. It is exactly like views from Romancing The Stone, this incredible green vegetation and dramatic waterfalls at every turn. The temperature in Santo Domingo is much warmer and humid.
Santo Domingo is located in the lowlands on the western slope of the Andes. It is a major transportion hub connecting the coast with Quito and the rest of the country. It is also the center of some of the most productive agricultural land in Ecuador. They grown palm oil, pineapples, cacao, bananas, plantain, and various other fruits and vegetables. The city gets its name from the local indigenous group the Tsachilas, who paint their hair a bright red, using an achote paste. The Spanish call them The Los Colorados (translates The Colored Ones). When the area was colonized, they were converted by the Dominican priests and the town was called Santo Domingo Los Colorados.
After checking into our hotel, we were off to the local hospital where we learned much about the increase in Diabetes since the introduction of Coca Cola and KFC (Thank you, U.S., you shouldn´t have). We met with Dr. Leonardo Oviedo, who has been to Kentucky many times, and works with several groups, including Partners and Shoulder-To-Shoulder. Later we went to a farm, Finca de San Antonio, owned by a local agricultural college. It was initially owned by one man, but was confiscated by the federal government after he was convicted of drug trafficing. It hs 22,000 acres and that is not one of my normal exaggerations. They raise beef cattle, have a dairy, raise pineapples and various fruits. It is a major farming industry. They make about $750,000 per year on the pineapple alone. Most is exported to the U.S. and Europe. We cut pineapple in the fields and ate it right there. It was sooooooo delicious. It doesn´t get fresher than this. The rest of the farm is covered with tropical vegetation and has a river running through the center, with various types of fish and small alligators. The alligators are employed to keep the water clean. When Ruthi saw all these rivers around this farm, she was GREEN with envy.We returned for a reception at the radio-television station Zarcay. Our host was the owner Holgar (pronounced Ohare) Valestequi, who is a WKU grad. He spoke of the political perspectives of the coastal area and the infiltration of the Colombian cartel, using Ecuador to launder their money. We fell into bed exhausted.
We´re keeping all our friends and family in our thoughts and prayers, and hope you will do the same. We´ll be baaaaack,
Rankin and Ruthi