I cannot believe that it has already been 2 weeks that we have been here in Ecuador. I thought it felt as though I had been here forever, then someone mentioned to me that today is 2 weeks, and I gasped with shock. Time is flying here and our rigorous schedule always keeps me busy. This past week I went zip-lining in the mountains, visited a small village called Gualaceo and saw very intricate jewelry work, and saw some animals being fried on sticks that I never had any desire to see cooked. I also learned some new dance moves and unique medical practices.
Yesterday, we were supposed to have a short lecture on natural medicine after siesta. I expected this seminar to be short and most likely about how herbal teas and such are used here to help cure common ailments. Alas, I found myself uncontrollably intrigued for a good 3 hours. An Ecuadorian man, somewhat like a Shaman, came to share with us some medical practices unique to Ecuador. He chose three of our bravest students to come forward and he took an x-ray of their bodies. With an egg. He rubbed the egg (uncracked, mind you) in a circular motion all over their bodies while they faced the north. They also blew on the egg exactly four times. There was much talk of cardinal positions and the four elements during this process, after which he cracked the egg into a glass of water.
Other students were chosen to come forward and observe the egg. According to the Shaman, they usually took a fairly good reading and he would then continue by explaining where their pain may lie and why they had such pain.
Not only did he read their pain, he also had a way to fix it. First, each of the students came forward and faced the north (yet again with talk of the compass and the elements). He then proceeded to tightly grasp a wad of special plants and vigorously thwack their entire bodies with it, being careful to avoid tender areas (which alas, donot include the head or face). He poured the essence of these plants into their hands which they rubbed together, deeply inhaled, and then rubbed on their heads.
In turn, the Shaman swished this essence around in his mouth, lifted up their shirts, and spat the liquid on their exposed bellies. Needless to say, I was inconsolable. However, I spoke with one of the students after, and he admitted he did feel a bit healthier and refreshed.
I feel as though I have already had a years worth of experiences on this trip, yet only a couple of weeks have passed. I never knew that remedies such as those above mentioned even existed, nor did I realize that a stick with a 3 inch diameter could be fit through the length of a guinea pig´s body. I got to fly over the mountains of Peru on a zip-line like superman, and other students got to forge down a waterfall. It seems as though there is always something new and exciting to do here, unlike my hometown, where Flamingo Bingo is considered a Friday night thrill. This weekend we are traveling to Saraguro to experience some more natural medicine practices and learn more about the different communities that surround Cuenca. A few of my new friends from Bio have already warned me about the extreme hiking that this trip involves, so for those of you who are familiar with my advanced hiking skills, please do not forget to pray heavily for me.