For the Love of Geography

Kite Dreams

2001.  I am sitting in a “classroom” in a monastery on the grounds of a 17th century hacienda in the Andes learning about Ecuador.  We have a map and a stack of stickers.  We’ve studied the geography of the country from the tropical Pacific coast to the Amazon jungle in the east and up to the snow and ice and glaciers in the central highlands.  We located the spot on the map where, only a few hours earlier, we stood on the equator.  There are stickers for the country’s primary natural resources (oil, timber, fish, and hydropower) to distribute amongst places with pretty names — Babahoyo, Riobamba, Milagro (Miracle). We’ve talked about the natural hazards that people here have always lived with, such as earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and floods.  There are more than 25 volcanoes on mainland Ecuador, a country about the size of the state of Nevada, and…

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