Ecuador RPCV (1966-1968) Reunion


First Special Award

Many years ago when I was living in a remote town of Ecuador in South America, I received a very special acknowledgement from the town people of Chillanes for having increased the output of potatoes per acre. I had been working on this project for about 6 months and brought in a lot of special farm technicians from Quito and borrowed money for new fertilizers and other soil enhancers.

The mayor of the town invited me to a beautiful hotel-restaurant.

They seated me at the head of one of the tables and lit a couple of candles and someone plucked away at a guitar and a flute and they played some Andean mountain tunes. Then, they brought out a covered plate and placed it in front of me and the applause began.

I slowly lifted the lid, thinking it was a trophy or something similar, and then nearly died of fright. There in front of me was the baked head of a guinea pig and nothing else. It was called a CUI. I tried to cover my shock by laughing and making some joke.

Very quickly did I find out that it was a very special meal for a very special person and that I would become part of their “family” by learning how to eat it.

I had to pick up the head of the guinea pig and break its jaw bone and then suck out and eat the brain matter.

As these “special awards” continued over the years I was there, I think I was treated for dysentery, amoebic infections, hepatitis, liver infections and other problems.

But I will never, ever forget this first ever Special Award.

J. Parsons remembrance of his first 'special award' in Ecuador

The Train Trip

Excerpt from June 1966 letter home by H. Graham regarding Guayaquil and a trip to Quito by train

Climbing the highest mountain

Years ago when I was on a foreign assignment and looking for new adventures, I met a group of guys who wanted to go mountain climbing. I thought that would be a really neat thing to do since Ecuador has a whole range of snow capped peaks in the Andes Mountains. We didn’t really know much about mountain climbing and thought we could just show up with some climbing equipment- poles, crampons, hats, gloves, several layers of clothing and hire a couple of guides. The mountains were in the 20,000 foot range. We decided on Mount Chimborazo.

We departed early one morning by bus to the trail leading to the mountain and convinced a couple of Indians to guide us up the mountain for about $100. We climbed very hard and fast and kept our guides out of breath for the whole climb. They kept telling us to slow down and conserve energy and oxygen but we were dumb and young and wanted to get to the top ASAP. We asked the guides a lot of questions about the mountain and I still remember one specific answer----Mt Chimborazo is the highest mountain in the World.

You can only imagine our absolute and wild joy in finding out that we were climbing to the peak of the world’s highest mountain and we raced back down the following day to tell the world what we had done. When we got to a nearby town and went into a local bar and informed the crowd there of our accomplishment they told us -Que tontos , Que Estupidos, Que Idiotas ==What fools, What dumbbells, What idiots.

We were then politely informed that Mt Chimborazo is really the highest mountain in the world if you measure it from the center of the planet Earth. 3,967 miles. And Mt Everest is only 3,965 miles from the center of the planet Earth

If you measure Chimborazo from Sea Level, it is only a 20,600 foot mountain. And Mt Everest is a 29,028 foot mountain measured from Sea Level.

In any event, not bad for [one] who knew only one mountain before this one, and it is in Ireland—Croagh Patrick.

J. Parsons remembrance of climbing Volcan Chimborazo, Ecuador's highest mountain

The Accounting Course

Excerpts from July 1966 letter describing first experience teaching accounting course in Quito to cooperative managers and members of their vigilance committees

H Graem © 2007