Weekend 1 — Otavalo
On Friday, Madeline and I had the AMAZING opportunity to travel to Otavalo and shadow in an indigenous medical clinic called, Jambi Huasi. We woke up early and took a 2 hour bus ride to Otavalo to be at the clinic by 9:30. Otavalo is known for its indigenous people and also its Saturday market — the biggest in South America! When we arrived at the clinic we met our Yatcha, Maria. Yatcha is the name given to those who practice the indigenous medicine. We got to see quite a few espantas, or spiritual cleanings, where Maria cleansed the person with an egg covered in oil, then cracked the egg into a pan, and either continued with another egg or with a few different rocks, all while chanting in her native language.
At lunch we went exploring and found a really cool, public art museum that displayed various pieces of Ecuadorean art. It was very beautiful and peaceful to see some of the artwork inside.
After lunch we were made to watch a video of the origin of the Jambi Huasi clinic and some of the indigenous practices. It was very informative and interesting. We learned that the indigenous people were treated very poorly in the past and that they’ve worked very hard to have the rights of “los mestizos” which are not indigenous Ecuadorean people. I think the video was also to prepare us to see a Cuy (pronounced qui) cleaning. Cuy is the term used for Guinea pig. In one of these rituals, a live Guinea pig is shaken over a person's body. After the Guinea pig has died (from basically a cerebral hemorrhage) the Guinea pig is cut open and whatever the Yatcha observes is wrong with the Cuy, is wrong with the person. It sounds a bit crazy but we met a woman here who’s friend had a stomach tumor and was diagnosed via the Cuy cleaning. We didn’t actually get to see one of these cleanings but still — cool stuff to learn about.
On Friday night we checked into Hostal Chasqui. Seriously like a second home in Otavalo! The owner Roberto was the friendliest person we met in the city and it was amazing to take a hot shower (first one since I left the US…). On Saturday morning, we had planned to walk to La Cascada de Peguche, a beautiful waterfall about an hour walk from the hostel along the abandoned railroad. Madeline and I wound up missing our turn and walking 40ish minutes out of the way but, let me tell ya, the 6.1 mile walk was worth it.
We climbed to the scenic lookout and also the base of the waterfall. We even got asked to take a picture with a local — apparently blonde hair and blue eyes are more of a hot commodity here ;)
We took a taxi home… not about to walk another 6ish miles! Then we showered, ate and headed to the market! It really was huge!!! We bartered with the locals and got some cool things. I’m not posting pictures though because I bought some regalos para mi familia :-)
Our bus ride home was PACKED. I listened to Hamilton the whole time so it wasn’t bad. When we got home, we got to meet Bachita’s grandson, Joaquin. The cutest, most energetic 5 year old boy in Ecuador! He talked and talked and talked while we ate dinner. He was obsessed with how I looked and gave me a kiss before he left. It was his 5th birthday and he was sad we didn’t come home earlier to celebrate :-)
This morning, we went to 7:10am church service with Bachita. She goes to a church like Eaglebrook so it was super awesome to worship God in another country like I would at home. They even sang some of the same songs — I think they are much more beautiful in Spanish though :) most words are. After church, we went galavanting around the city with Bachita, taking pictures of her properties that she wants to rent or sell. It was fun to spend time with her but after we got home and ate lunch, I took a nap. At least we know my love for sleep hasn’t changed at all!
I just have to say it’s CRAZY that I have been here a week. I miss you family and friends but I love Ecuador!