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Back to the Basics: Cooking, Healing, and Education

ECUADOR | Wednesday, 8 January 2014 | Views [314]

The last couple days have been so eventful! We learned how to cook a traditional Ecuadorian meal, visited a hospital, saw the CEDEI School and participated in a traditional healing. It is so interesting to compare all that we’re seeing with what we know from home. It definitely opens your mind a bit.

Yesterday, after class, we were lead down to the kitchen to learn how to cook. I was so excited to learn how my host mom and all the other women around here cook so well. Yolanda invited us in and started ordering us around in Spanish. She was so cute and so assertive that we couldn’t help but listen to her every wish (after it was translated of course :)). After a while, we had different combinations of tomatoes, onions, potatoes, meat and fruit cooking on the stove. Yolanda told us to go set the table while she made some juice out of a tree tomato. Before you know it, our food was done. Could I tell you the names? Nope. But I can tell you that our potato soup, beef, corn, tomato salad, and fruit desert was excellent. 

After lunch, we all congregated to go to the hospital. We have been learning about healthcare in class, especially the difference between traditional healing methods and the western methods. Therefore, we were excited to see what would be in store. The hospital we visited was a public one, and the conditions were not close to what we’d consider okay in the US. We even got to go back in their emergency room, vaccination room, and lab. Like we said many times during the tour, “Never in the US.”

When we asked about the implementation of traditional methods of healing in the hospital, our guide responded with, “No, we have real medicine here.” I thought that was a very interesting thought, as many newspaper articles had praised Ecuador for the integration of traditional medicine into some hospitals. We had been talking about how cool it was to integrate the Shamans in the hospital to assist the doctors, but what she said confirmed my thoughts. It seems as if the Shamans are simply a form of comfort to patients in these hospitals. Just as our guide said, they always point back to the biomedical or western approach.

Therefore, when they told us we’d be experiencing a “limpia” today, I was skeptical. As we entered our classroom with 40+ people, you could smell burning wood and incense. Soon after, the man lecturing to us started to pour oil and spread rocks out on the floor next to the dense smoke. We had not clue what to expect. After eggs were rubbed and put in water, people were smacked with branches of herbs, and we had breathed in all the incense humanly possible, the limpia was done. It was very interesting to watch.

After seeing this, I have to wonder if it actually works. Can the health of our body, our energy, be determined by what an egg looks like in water? I’m not so sure. Can we actually better our equilibrium by generating “samy”, which is the feminine energy, in our hands? And then pass it off to people? I’m not convinced. I’m also curious to how this corresponds with many of the people’s Catholic background, after all, 95% of Ecuador identifies as Roman Catholic. 

This cleansing will probably gain the title of most interesting lecture of the trip, but the school we visited was pretty cool too. CEDEI International is the program we’re working with on this trip. And it turns out that their college program is not the only thing they do; they have a school that is Pre-K to 9th grade. So after our class period this morning, we loaded into another pseudo bus to get to the school. I don’t think I have ever ridden in a bus where a driver has gotten lost, but boy, did this driver get lost. We must have driven around for a good 30 minutes trying to find the school. It was hilarious! I’m so thankful for the group I’m here with. We never fail to have a good laugh in a stressful situation.

After unloading, we were buzzed in through the gates only to see kids running around everywhere. We knew that this was a tri-lingual school, but I was still surprised to hear some kids speaking English, some in Spanish. We didn’t hear any French unfortunately, but they don’t learn that until third grade. Ha. What a difference that is. 

I was shocked to see this school in Ecuador. It seemed so well-organized, successful and clean. However, we were informed that most schools in Ecuador are not like this. This was a private, non-Catholic, liberal arts school. They encouraged the arts, taught 50% in English and 50% in Spanish, and gave kids freedom that they weren’t normally allowed. It was a very cool school to tour, and I will be interested to see if the idea of this school expands in Ecuador in the future.

I can’t wait to go to Cajas tomorrow. We’re taking a two-hour hike and I’m SO EXCITED. Forgetting the fact that there won’t be bathrooms, I expect it this to be one of the best parts of the whole trip. 

Tags: cooking, healing, hospital, school

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