I am always grateful to visit our placements, especially while the students are living their experiences.
I am always grateful to visit our placements, especially while the students are living their experiences. I am in Ecuador for a week meeting all the students, host families and work projects with Fabian from FRI (our partner in Ecuador) and later in the week with Jessica, one of our campus reps (and my daughter). As always I learn so much!
My host family in Peguche, near Otavalo , (the home of one of the largest markets in Latin America for indigeneous crafts) is with Jxxxxx, Cxxxxxx and their two children. They live in a compound with a large extended family and like so many in this area make their living as weavers. The sound of the mechanical looms clattering away from early morning to early evening in their home and many homes in the area is constant and soothing (at least for me!). This area, in the highlands of Ecuador (northeast of Quito), is home to the Quechua people, one of the many indigenous peoples in the Andes. They are so recognizable by their strong, noble features, long black, braided hair in both the men and women and the embroidered blouses, long dark skirts and felt hats worn by the women. They are intensely proud of their heritage and have, in recent decades, been able to reclaim recognition and status in Ecuador.
This family is also musical, four brothers and Jxxxxx’s son, comprising a traditional band which has played throughout the Andes and in America. On my final evening with them, some of the family treated me to a mini concert and I responded by playinga Dylan tune!
In Peguche where some of our Intercordians have lived over the years, there is a waterfall, which will be the site of a ritual bathing on June 22nd, the ancient Inca Festival of the Sun. Regrettably I will not be able to participate in the time of spiritual cleansing when the Quechua people process up to the falls at midnight and bathe in the water to cleanse away all negative energy and reclaim their good spirit for the year ahead. There is a small cave near the falls where all the musicians bring their instuments, which are left overnight so that in the morning they will have a purer sound.
I am intrigued at how the Quechua people, who are often Roman Catholics, have found ways to maintain their heritage within their Catholic traditions and see no conflicts. As we walked up to the falls Jxxxx said, “God is in everything and accepts all the different ways people seek to understand and worship.” We had many conversations about Quechua history, ways of living and life in modern Ecuador and I was so moved by his and his people’s delicate way of maintaining their heritage but moving forward into the 21st century with all its demands and expectations. It seemed to me they were finding the way to maintain the essentials of family, heritage, history and old world values while embracing change,..... not easy in our fast changing world of consumerism and technology.