The mission of the Yachana Foundation is education and training. There are many ways to achieve this and one of the most successful has been the courses for men from the coastal part of Ecuador who were impacted by the earthquake a year ago.

The training was in masonry.

To provide the best training we needed projects for them to actually work on; directly being involved in mixing the concrete and laying the blocks. With the help from these men, funds from donors and Global Giving we were able to complete a “crazy idea” that we have been thinking about for a long time. It was to create a sundial.

But a BIG sundial!

Cristobal Cobo is the expert on sundials in Ecuador and the histories of the ancient cultures who relied on the sun for all of their agricultural activities. Cristobal came to Yachana with his survey equipment and laid out the exact location and orientation of what we wanted to build. All of it is built out of cement and block. It proved to be a wonderful training exercise for the men since all of the dimensions had to be very exact and the construction involved all aspects from concrete floors, foundations, analysis of the soil and the wall out of block.

The sundial is 4.80 meters wide (15 feet), the floor is 6 meters long (19 feet) and the wall is 3 meters high (10 feet). There is a pipe that extends horizontally for 3 meters at the top of the wall on each side that is what actually casts the shadow on the various lines to determine time or month. It has to all be mathematically exact and oriented east/west perfectly to get the shadow to be over the equinox line on the specific dates.

In the first picture below taken 20 days after the equinox, you can see the pipe extending and the shadow on the wall.

In the second, taken on March 20th, you will see how the shadow is exactly over the vertical line we painted in the middle of the wall and floor to indicate the equinox.


Besides the training in masonry for all of the workers, those from the community of Perdenales, which is exactly on the equator, want to build a sundial in their community exactly like what we have at Yachana. Victor, from that community, said that the community was completely destroyed from the quake and that he and most of the others are still living in tents. They felt that the sundial was an ancient symbol of how some things never change and how cultures can rise up again after adversity.

The sundial has proven to be an incredibly popular attraction to everyone visiting Yachana.