The last week has been a whirlwind of traveling and learning about Ecuador. Sadly, due to technical difficulties with the Luther blogging and lack of Wifi in some of the places we have been traveling, we haven´t been able to update the blog as frequently as we would have liked. Now that the site is functioning again and we are back in Cuenca with good internet connections there will be lots of updates about our experiences. The whole group has been doing great and we have been sharing many amazing experiences together, one of which was our recent trip to Saraguro.
Bright and early on Saturday morning we left Cuenca in route to Saraguro, which is a small town in the low Andes to the south of Cuenca. The town is made up of a large native and mestizo (mixed natives with European) population. The roads to Saraguro, like many roads in Ecuador, were windy and very bumpy at times, but the scenery out of the windows was absolutely gorgeous. Once in Saraguro, we boarded a special type of bus called “Chiva” with wooden benches. The Chivas were a bit scary at first because they were open, but we soon got use to their openness and enjoyed the ride.
Our destination was a spectacular cliff that over looked an enormous valley that was sprinkled with indigenous farms. The views were breathtaking and it was hard to focus on the lunch that I was eating because I kept staring out at the view. After lunch we headed off on a hike along the valley on a narrow path. On the hike our guide Juana told us about the uses of the native Agave plants which are called Penco in Ecuador. The juice of the plant is a drink that the natives have been drinking for generations and it is beneficial for the liver and the kidneys. Juana also showed us how the thorns of the Agave pants can be broken off in such a way that tiny threads come out. This thorn and natural thread was used by the natives to sew clothes.
At the end of the hike we reached a beautiful plateau, which Juana told us was an ancient Incan holy place. Juana led us in a cleaning of our bad energies and after this cleansing we yelled as loud as we could off of the cliff in an act of getting rid of all of our bad energies. It was really fun to hear everyone yell as loud as they could from such an isolated and stunning place.
We are now back in Cuenca. Today we started our official classes with Professor Gates Madsen learning about medical terminology and challenges that face doctors and interpreters. We also had a tour of the Hospital that we are going to be doing observations in. I am looking forward to starting the observations tomorrow! There will be more information about the classes and hospital experiences soon.