Ama shua, ama llulla, ama quilla; don’t lie, don’t rob, don’t steal- not only the laws to life for the indigenous Highland Kichwa population of Riobamba, but rules that we all should live by. In preparation for the trip, I was most excited to visit and interact with the indigenous people of Ecuador, so in signing up for my El Lider Del Dia, I was adamant about obtaining Indigenous World View. Little did I know, I would be the first student ELDD, which was a slightly frightening under taking (I know it is a leadership trip, but you try to rangle a bunch of 16-17 year old in a foreign country).Never the less, I rose at 5:50 in preparation for waking the group, and by 7:00 (supposed to be 6:50- but again we are teenagers on summer break) we we off; equip with hiking boots, heavy coats, and a whole lot of bug spray, sunscreen and water, we set off on our adventure to Salasaca, where we would meet Victoria!
But first breakfast!
We happily enjoyed oatmeal, eggs and hot chocolate at Cafe del Tren, afterwords were presented with a little insight to the Kichwas view on time and nature- much different from our own. Most of us reflected on the North Western obsession with material possessions and wealth, where as the Kichwas focus on happiness and its value in ones own life and sharing it with others. As apposed to the clinical American view of linear time, the Kichwas believe that time moves in a circular motion; focus on today, live to today, because tomorrow is tomorrow and it is not today or yesterday.
With full bellies, and expanded minds, we boarded Juanito’s bus, and he drove us into the mountains. While enjoying the scenery, we sang Disney channel theme songs, and played multiple games of Mafia. Finally we arrived at Victoria’s house.
She warmly invited us into her home, showed us how to weave tapestry, made and dye the tread, allowed us to milk her cow (I know so cool right!!! I was really happy), showed us around her farm, hold her cuys (guinea pigs) and make humits (similar to tamales) which we happily ate for lunch. Along with them Victoria graciously made chicken, salad, corn, potatos and tree tomato juice (which tasted similar to lemonade). Victoria also made us a gift by presenting us with a freshly cooked cuy, Hugo, Sedeq,Yussef, Daniel and Justin bravely consumed not long after holding one (Big Love to them).
We then went into Victoria’s workshop and bought ponchos, scarves, hats, bags and bracelets- but the big hit was the PONCHOS!! (we all wore ours to the nightly meeting!!!! (I’m wearing mine now!!!)) After receiving bracelets as a gift from Victoria and thanking her profusely, we bid her kauacama (see you tomorrow in Kichwa).
Sad to leave our new friend, we enjoyed many more somber games of Mafia on the ride back to the Hostel, and then got ready for our second English Class!! Everyone expressed an immense sense of satisfaction as their second days went smoothly, and their students showed great enthusiasm. Juanito then drove us to dinner, but not before we made a pit stop as we were lucky enough to see all of the mountains of Riobamba, a rare occurence with its commonly mist blanketed hills. Isabella then filled out stomachs with HAMBURGERS!! which everyone loved, along with the black berry juice and sweet basil tea.
Retiring to Hotel Tren Dorado, our group reflected on a day the changed our lives. The ponchos we wore, filled with life and love that Victoria had made them with and given to us earlier in the day; we saw the value in the day we had spent together, and the sense of pride and joy within all of us; the love we had given and received all day- we loved the day and the days that come, and we love each other. We are a family, we have each other, no phones, one common language, shared life changing experiences, games that we laugh at and love to play, and we DON’T EVEN WANT OUR PHONES, just one another. We are thankful for today, and do not look to the future, but we know that tomorrow will just be another “today” where we can love each other…
and we are ever so grateful to Victoria and each other for showing us that.
the utmost to my Riobamba family and my American family, thank you for every today!