Buenas noches to our loved ones back at home. Another day has ended on our journey through Ecuador. Today both of us were the first guinea pigs… I mean leaders of the day for the groups. This consists of taking care of the agenda, checking on attendance, announcing the next events, and much more. Fun fact, for dinner we had guinea pigs as an appetizer. We both concur that if we were offered exotic food from a different country we had to try it. We felt so bad eating a beloved pet from back home. This is only because we thought that the animals were cute and now they are ugly in our stomachs.

Today we learned all about the history and development of the 23 communities that make up the indigenous Cacha people in Ecuador, such as the acts of woman leadership like the time that the woman in the tribe revolted against a Riobamba tax collector in which they gouged his eyes out, kept them, and then carved his face off and put it at the entrance of the Cacha mountain where all the indigenous communities took residence.

Don Segundo, our tour guide at the Cacha museum explained to us some of the histories of the indigenous people of Riobamba like performing a cleansing ritual with us and allowing us to enter the Puerto del Sol for having positive energies. Also, our spectacular bus driver Don Alfonso kept us from driving off a cliff and drove us back safely to the hotel. After our tour, we indulged in the process of preparing empanadas at the Nativa restaurant (run by Cesar), which we later got to eat.

A bit before eating dinner, we had a guest speaker, Carmen Tiupul who is a women activist here in Ecuador. Hands down she has been one of the most inspirational people we met on this journey so far. Because she has been fighting for women’s rights, just like at home, she was persecuted for being a woman and for standing up for her rights. She went to jail for 2 years and had to still pay a huge fine after she was released. Even after this, she still continues to fight for women’s rights in Ecuador.

Through all of this, being an LDD was exhausting and hard. Because we were the first people to be LDD, we were the first people to stumble through our schedule. The reason for it is because it was hard to give orders to other people our age. For the two of us, it feels like we are being mean to them even though we are not trying to be.  We still had good laughs throughout the day, despite feeling so much anxiety on the inside.

Imani and I (Damien) are by far the best leaders of the day, saying as we are only the first, but that’s not what counts. Hasta luego.

P.S. Shout out to Sheba, my dog, and child, and my parents I guess (this is Damien, and I actually love my parents a lot.)