Working and Living like a local

Today we woke up extra early at 5am and beat the sun. ☀️We were simulating the life of a local and had no access to hot water and electricity (no lights, iPods, cameras, and other luxuries). We then got on the bus to leave for the town of Salasaca. Most people got those extra hours of sleep they lost in the morning through naps on the bus. Before we knew it, we had arrived and Doña Victoria warmly welcomed the twenty of us into her home. We had bread for breakfast that she had cooked in her brick oven. Her home was called Sisa Wasi which means “the flower of the home”. We also had freshly squeezed tomato juice, hot chocolate, and tea all made through fire (you could taste the smoke).
After breakfast, we played a get-to-know-you game in the dewy grass. Then, we helped Doña Victoria harvest grass for the animals with a scythe. After collecting it, we rolled them up into rolls with rope and carried them on our backs. It was very laborious and we needed some serious shoulder massages. Along our way to Doña Victoria’s small farm, we took her adorable sheep named Martina! At the farm, we helped her harvest the corn 🌽 in groups. We collected so much corn; we filled 3 sacs. While harvesting the corn, we challenged each other to find the perfect ten out of ten corn. The highest ranking ones were often the red corn that resembled pomegranate or pure white ones. After harvesting the corn, we fed, milked, and fetched water to give to her 3 adult cows and 2 baby calfs. Once the cows were fed, we were met the task of hauling all of the corn back to the house. They were so heavy that it took four people to carry one bag. To distract ourselves from the enormous weight, we sang songs from Mulan and Moana. 🎼.
Once we got back to the house, everyone was exhausted from carrying the corn. Then we had lunch of chicken, fresh potatoes, blackberry juice, and fava beans. Some people said that it was the best chicken that they have ever had. After lunch, we observed how the family produced textiles. She explained how she dyed the yarn with worms, coffee, and even red onions to get various colors. We asked her how she kept the colors so consistent and she answered that it is instinctual because she has been doing it since a young age. She told us that one of her greatest challenges in life was the lack of land and having to grow crops under Ecuador’s four seasons. Her difficulties as an artisan was that she had no time for work in her craft with the piling household chores and farm work. Therefore, her support system was her tight knit community.
After hearing her moving story and how her products were made very naturally, we headed to the souvenir shop and many people got blankets made out of the soft alpaca wool. They also let us try on traditional wedding attires including black shawls and a flat hat that sat on the top of your head to ensure an upright posture. Afterwards, we had a closing ceremony and hiked one of the sacred hills of the area. The view was stunning! We could see Doña Victoria’s house and even Quito, which is 4 hours away. She explained how when she was growing up in the area she would walk to a nearby town where there were better markets so she could sell her lambs. On the mountain, we sung songs from the Sound of Music and took lots of crazy pictures in remembrance of our last themed day.
Overall, the day was very powerful and we leaned a lot about the luxuries that we are accustomed to at home. We still could not believe that Doña Victoria did the work that took all of the glimpsers to complete by herself everyday. Her resilience and strength was inspirational to us as Global Citizens 🌎. Our quote of the day was “We are not rich by what we posses, but by wha t we can do without” ~ Immanuel Kant. This quote summarizes our day because we learned that having inner strength and taking action on our compassions are worth so much more than material possessions.
PS. Miss you all so much and can’t wait to see you soon and share everything! Happy early Father’s Day dad. ~Lauren

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