New ground collapse threatens more Zaruma homes; Old mills, one dating to the 1600s, still operate in Nabón; Non-native fly threatens birds in Galapagos

Jan 25, 2022 | 1 comment

Lunes, 24/1/2022

Hola, Todos –

Actividades –

Nada, unless you want to count taking a trip to get grain milled traditionally.

Titular –

Relevo en mando policial (Change in police command) – Pres. Lasso replaced Tannya Varela as the comandante general of the Policía Nacional with General Carlos Fernando Cabrera. – see Monday’s CHL article for more details.

Cuenca –

Investigan incendio a tanquero de Asfaltar (Asfaltar tanker fire under investigation) – A tanker belonging to the empresa de Aridos y Asfaltos del Azuay, Asfaltar EP was burned el noche de vierne around 20:00 in the yard in the Uzhupuc commmunity in the Chicán parish in Paute. The tanker was parked at the end of the shift and the reason for the fire is unknown. There were no people affected or environmental damage. The tanker was a watering tanker. <I guess even if the contents spilled, it would only be water.>

The sinkhole that has destroyed several houses in Zaruma continues to expand, following new landslide on Sunday.

Nuevo deslizamientoen Zaruma (New landslide in Zaruma) – Sunday night and early Monday morning there was a new slide into the sinkhole which formed in calle Colón el 15/5/2021 in Zaruma. The soil is unstable due to rains in the last couple of days, and one house is in danger of collapsing and should be completely evacuated. After a inspection by the Servicio Nacional de Gestión de Riesgos y Emergencias (SNGRE), authorities are deciding if it’s feasible to demolish some houses close to the sinkhole to avoid accidents. Members of the Cuerpo de Ingenieros el Ejército (Army Corps of Engineers – your words for the day. Seems like the Army Corps of Engineers is a go-to organization for engineering disasters in Ecuador, too.) and Arcernnnr are on site for the stabilization. Last jueves, Pres. Lasso announced the allocation of $2.7 million to MTOP in the 1st phase, to finance work in the area. There will be more disbursements during the year as work progresses.

According to civil engineer Marcelo Benítez, the city needs to do a house by house inspection near the sinkhole to see if any contain entrances to the mines. Also the concessions and contracts with mining companies need to be reviewed to confirm that they are respecting the exclusion zone. Preliminary information they have been able to review shows there at at least 15 concessions very close to the urban center, and it’s possible that some have already dug under the center.

Temas –

La diminuta mosca que amenaza a 21 especies de aves en Galápagos (The tiny fly that threatens 21 species of birds in Galapagos) – An invasive parasitic mosca, (fly – another word for the day), the Philornis downsi, is threatening 21 species of birds endemic and native to the Galapagos including 17 of the finches. The fly, which is also known as the avian vampire fly lays its eggs in bird nests and when the larva emerge, they feed on the blood of the chicks which can be fatal to the birds. The larvae stay in the nests 8 days and then spin cocoons. The flies are believed to have entered the Galapagos in the 70’s before there were was a biosafety agency and controls.

Scientists on the mainland, the U. of Minnesota, and Escuela Politécnica del Liboral are researching ways to control the flies without damaging the ecosystem in the Galápagos. Possibilities are using a micro wasp native to S. America which lay their eggs in fly cocoons and the wasp larvae feed on the fly larvae. Meanwhile ornithologists are spraying a low toxicity insecticide to kill the flies in the nests and also putting the product on cotton which birds use to build their nests, although not all bird species will use the cotton. There are 24 institutions in a dozen countries researching this fly species. <That’s why US customs wants to know if you’ve been on a farm or around farm animals when you enter the US – or at least they used to. So you’re not importing things like fly eggs or invasive weed seeds on your clothes or shoes.>

Ecuador pone su archivo documental histórico en la web (Ecuador puts its historical documentary archive on the web) – The Archivio Histórico Nacional de Ecuador launched a new web tool which contains descriptions of documents which have been collected since 1884. A large book, “Boletín” was also launched which compiled institutional archives and has a QR code in the book which will open more documents which could not be included in the “Boletín.” <No address given.>

Region –

Nabón conserva molinos antiguos (Nabón preserves old mills) – Nabón is a canton known for maintaining its ancestral traditions and practices. These include two mills operated by water pressure, the older one is in the community of Charki, and the other is in the Manzano sector. The Charki mill belongs to Amelia and Hermelinda Maldonado Ordóñez and has been in the family about 120 years. It is believed the mill is at least 350 years old and has been maintained so that it is the main attraction in the community. There are still people who bring grain for milling, mostly seniors who haven’t lost the habit or people who had the experience when they were young and want to relive it. <Or gringos who grow grain and want stone ground flour?> Charki is about 8 km. from the center of Nabón and access to the zone is on signs on the vía Nabón-Cochapata.

Flavio Morocho and his wife María Romelia Ramón own the other mill, which dates to 1940, in the the Manzano community in Las Nieves parish. This mill is also in use and was inherited from María’s uncle. It is powered by the water in the Yacutranca creek which later joins the río Mandur. The mill is used by friends and acquaintances of the family and the flavor of the flour is much tastier than flour from modern mills. To mill an almud (which Google says is an old unit of measurement that can be anywhere from 2-21 quarts) costs $3.00. It can take up to a day depending on how much water is flowing. To get there, you need to take the detour from the La Paz parish and drive about 15 minutes. To get to the Morocho’s house where the mill is located is another 15 minute walk along a path. <I wonder how much 21 quarts of grain weighs? Something for you specialty bakers out there to think about.>

Modo de operación (Mode of operation) – The first step is to free the water <In the picture it looks like they’re moving rocks blocking the flow.> and the more water, the faster the process. The water flows to a wooden wheel or fins which move the mill. Then the grain goes into a hopper, and is manipulated towards the rotating stone and falls into the fixed stone for later demolición (demolition?). There are wooden regulators to calculate how fine the finished product will be and the amount of grain that enters. Then you wait for the process to finish, and gather the flour with little brooms made of sheep’s wool or leather. <Maybe you can get corn milled so it’s like Albers cornmeal for corn bread – finer than polenta, and thicker than harina de maíz.>

And that’s all for today so hasta ? –

Jeanne

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