This is Amy Hanson, one of your students’ GG leaders. We have been busy exploring the city of Guaranda and a bit of the surrounding community. Today we had the pleasure of meeting a local indigenous curandero named, Adan. He has been performing cleansing and healing rituals for 25 years. He invited us to his home community of San Lorenzo, about 35 minutes south of Guaranda. Our morning activity started with a detailed explanation of many of the medicinal plants that the local indigenous community uses in their daily lives. It is quite common to make a variety of teas with different plants to cure a range of everyday ailments and even some more severe illnesses. Adan spoke to us about the importance in preserving these traditions in the youth of today in order to keep their indigenous culture alive. The Glimpsers had the chance to touch and smell all of the plants during Adan’s demonstration.
Later, Adan took us for a walk by the river where we learned about an indigenous ritual called Chakana. This ritual is one of the most important symbols of the Andean culture. This ritual gives thanks to “Pachamama” or Mother Earth for all of the crops that have been plentiful during the year. This ritual is often a part of the Inti Raymi celebration, which is a celebration of the sun and all of the good energy the sun provides the Earth. Adan explained all of the components of the ritual and invited those Glimpsers who wanted to participate to join him in giving thanks to Mother Earth. It was evident that Adan is very passionate about this ritual and his indigenous culture. The Glimpsers truly got a “glimpse” of the culture here in Ecuador and were able to get out of the comfort zones and experience something new.
For lunch we traveled to a local organic farm called La Guilena. This is a family run farm that focuses and environmental sustainability, organic Ecuadorian cuisine and the preservation of Ecuadorian culture. Here the family treated the students to a traditional meal served during the celebration of Carnaval, the biggest and most important celebration in Guaranda. Later we had the opportunity to make chiguiles, a traditional food served during Carnaval. This dish is masa filled with cheese, wrapped in plantain leaves which are later steamed. While our chiguiles cooked, the Glimpsers participated in a famous Carnaval tradition. In Guaranda when a guest arrives to your house for Carnaval, you put white flour on their face to welcome them. Later, everyone dumps water on each other to clean off the flour. However, the water really represents purification and the cleansing of bad spirits. At a traditional Carnaval celebration the entire family participates in the water ritual and it basically turns into one huge FUN water fight! The Glimpsers had so much fun! It was a great activity that got everyone involved and brought out a playful side, even from the adults:)
We the returned to our hotel to get ready for dinner. At dinner we threw Zainab a SURPRISE BIRTHDAY PARTY! Complete with a cake, party horns and confetti. She was extremely happy and everyone enjoyed cake together.
Tomorrow we have Education Day and will be visiting a local school. Stay tuned for an update!