June: Going home…to Ecuador


Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador

I have a long history with Ecuador, and it’s a place that, with each time I am here, it feels even more familiar. It’s home. However, I can’t lie, it was so, so very difficult to leave Mexico a few days ago. I’ll be going back soon enough though, for a few more months of work and reflection. But June is dedicated to my other home, Ecuador. After leaving Mexico City bound for a quick overnight stay in Miami, I hopped on a plane bound for Quito, where I spent a deliciously chilly night under the watchful eye of the Cotopaxi volcano. After three days of travel, I finally arrived at my final destination, the charmingly colonial southern city of Cuenca, where I will be based for the next few weeks working with my friend, colleague and leader of the Archivo Cultural de Cañar project, Judy Blankenship.

I’m here in Ecuador to work. And to process all the incredible and transformational things that happened in the past year in Mexico. Even though I didn’t plan it this way, I think it’s better that I am doing this in Ecuador, rather than the United States. It’s hard to explain, but having a third place to work out all the complexities of my time in Mexico is turning out to be a wise way to decompress.

So what will I be doing here for the next few weeks?

  • I plan on spending a lot of time in Cañar, an Ecuadorian province about an hour north of Cuenca. Judy and I will be working on developing documentation and training for digitization and metadata workflows for the Archivo Digital de Cañar. The digital archive will serve as a platform to document primarily the visual and oral heritage of the town of Cañar and the Cañari communities nearby. I’ll be writing more in detail as we begin work in earnest this week about the community’s involvement in the project, Judy’s role as founder and director, and my role as consulting archivist.
  • Networking with local archivists and librarians in Cuenca, and celebrating International Day of Archives on June, 9.
  • Workshopping with local cultural heritage institutions on building sustainable digitization and digital preservation programs and initiatives at their archives and libraries.
  • Presenting on my Fulbright experiences in Mexico alongside Fulbright scholars in Ecuador at an event sponsored by the Fulbright commission in Quito.

It’s a lot to do in three weeks, but I am looking forward to sharing my experiences in Mexico and the knowledge I’ve gained while working and living there with the Ecuadorian library and archives community. You can say it’s all coming full circle.

Eating a bolón de queso and eggs at the Quito airport before setting off for Cuenca. Quite a hearty breakfast!

Eating a bolón de queso and eggs at the Quito airport before setting off for Cuenca. Quite a hearty breakfast!