Our Second Day in San Clemente

Most of the students had awoken at the brisk of the sunrise to help their host families make breakfast.  I was no different. We were all tiresome, but excited for what was planned for the day. At 7 am sharp, my housemates and my home stay mother started to prepare our breakfast. We made tortillas from wheat and cooked them outside. While outside, we encountered many of the pets our home stay mom Rosa had. Those pets included dogs, chickens, cows, and even an alpaca. After making the tortillas, my housemates and I had taken a few minutes to try to take photos of all these animals.
This was our best attempt at trying to take a photo of the baby chicks.
After we had taken a moment to admire all of the farmland and the animals in the area, Katie, Nicole, and I helped set the  breakfast  table with our host mother Rosa.During this time we spent time talking about the places each of us were from and about the cultures that we come from. Rosa began to tell us the story of how her grandfather was a slave and how he fought for his family to obtain this land that she lives on. “I had never met my grandfather,” Rosa said, “However, my mother did say that he was a very strong man. Very resilient.  When had passed, he handed the land down to his children, my mother being one of them. And then later when my mother had her children, she handed the land down to us. All the houses in this area belong to my family members. That house on the east side of this land belongs to my sister Vanessa. The other house over there (pointing to her right) belongs to my brother. And one day we will do the same. When our children grow and are ready to start forming their own families, we will also hand down the land to them and teach the new generations our native language and all we know about agriculture. There is this quote that says  ‘We Do Not Inherit the Earth from Our Ancestors; We Borrow It from Our Children’. I cannot remember where I had heard it, or who had even said it to begin with, but it is absolutely true.” Once we had finished our breakfast, we helped wash the dishes and began to head out to the Centro Educativo or Center of Education to begin our Minga.  
The minga was one of the most humbling experiences we, as students had ever encountered. It had allowed us to work side by side with the community members of San Clemente and allowed us to learn a lot about ourselves. We were each working on different things during the minga, but ultimately, it was our group effort that made all of this possible. The minga had actually changed my perception of group work. Throughout my academic career, group work had always led me to understand why batman works alone. Personally I never have liked group work or working with other people in general because it feels like the work may not be evenly distributed and not everyone contributes equally. For the most part, I always ask to work alone during group projects for the simple fact that I absolutely hate them and I hate the feeling of being dependent of another person. After the minga, I would say I am a lot more open to group work, now that I have seen the positive effects it can have in a community.  

At the end of the first half of our minga, we went to Yahuarcocha Lake to have our lunch. Though the hike up the mountain was difficult and exhausting, the view was well worth the struggle. We were greeted by friendly cows who allowed us to have lunch with them and spent about an hour eating and conversing with our fellow classmates. After our lunch, we were told the story of the man-made mountains and the sacred lands which we stood upon. We learned that the name of the river actually translated to the Lake of Blood and the reason for this name was because of the massive amounts of people who were decapitated and later thrown into the lake. We all payed our respects to those who had passed, and then went back to San Clemente.
Upon or arrival in San Clemente we met with a man who taught us all all about indigenous medicine practices and about how he had been studying plants since he was 12 years old. In addition, we learned about how he used a Cuy to see what health problems a person had. He started by giving Juan Carlos a massage on the head, and then asked for a volunteer whom he would cleanse. I volunteered and  had made my way to the him. The man grabbed the cuy by the head and began to rub it against my limbs. Soon enough, the cuy died, and the medicine man opened it and gave me a diagnosis. “You have a bruise on your butt from plopping down on a chair too hard a couple of days ago.” He said. “Yes,” I responded. “You also have a few bruises on your legs that are still fresh.” He added. “Yes, from a soccer game we played. I got hit by the ball.” I answered. “Hmm… There is a bruise on your leg and on your foot. It shows signs of damage, but this had been there for years. And your throat is very red. Do you have trouble breathing sometimes?” He asked. “Yes, I have asthma....And the injury on my leg is from a surgery I had a few years back.” I responded.  He then proceeded to open the cuy’s stomach and pull out its intestines. The intestines were nearly black. Since my grandmother also does cleansing in a very similar manner, I immediately knew what it meant. “There are a lot of knots here...it’s a parasite that has been living there for many years now. And I can also see that you are angry. Your heart is full of a lot of hurt and a lot of rage. You tend to be very short tempered and get angry over nothing most of the time. This parasite is living off of your anger, and this rage you carry within you has caused to to have gastritis.  When you get angry, you tend to not want to eat. This ruins your eating patterns and has even made you develop an eating disorder at one point.” He added. None of this came as a surprise to me. All of this is true, and it was things that I had been knowing for years. I smiled. “Yes. I inherit my anger from my grandfather. But I am also angry for all  those who cannot be. I pretty much carry everyone else’s rage in the family so that they don’t have to. So that they can proceed with their everyday life as if nothing is going on. And I know what the parasite is too. I know how it came to be, I just didn’t know what had been feeding it all along.” I answered.
After the cleansing was finished, I thanked the man and went with the rest of my classmates to get ready for the traditional dancing. We all danced until the souls of our feet hurt. The night ended with the celebration of Juan Carlos and Miriam’s birthday.



  1. Watching you (Sara) volunteer and participate in the cuy ritual was amazing--I am still in awe as to how he was able to know all those things about you! Definitely, a night to remember! Also, shout out to Nicole and Angel, your dancing while wearing the traditional clothing was GREAT, round of applause to you both!

  2. HAPPY BIRTHDAY MIRIAM AND JUANCA! (-: I hope this day was amazing for you both as it was for me. Climbing to the sacred land with the cows was truly an experience I will never forget. The view from that mountain top was definitely worth that "10 minute" hike though!! Although the day was long, coming back and getting to see the cuy ritual was mind blowing!

  3. The story your host mom shared during breakfast was pretty inspiring. It reminds me of what the cultural tourism leader Manuel said on Thursday. I am concerned that one day, the military will claim these lands back from the indigenous people. I also resonate with you about the experience of group work. Though worried about team work not done efficiently since most people analyze whether they have the same amount of work, I was touched by how our group worked as a unity.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Quito Parks

The End is Nigh!

Bienvenido a Ecuador!