Today we spent the whole day in the indigenous village "Kushiwarya" with the residents, members of the Canari tribe. The ancestors of the current villagers settled on the land thousands of years ago, becoming farmers who lived off of the land. The people still live off of the land, farming and collecting herbs and medicinal plants. They live to be over 100 years old and that is without using modern medicine. It's really amazing that they are able to survive. I wish that I could live like that, because they seem a lot healthier and well adjusted that most people in the United States.
We did a lot today. First we hiked up into one of the pastures that the villagers graze their animals in, and our main guide showed us the methods that the Canari use to grow maiz, or corn. The corn in Ecuador is very different from the sweet corn that I am used to, and I'm not sure if it will ever grow on me. They would probably say the same thing about our corn. After that, we were shown the sacred forest that the villagers go into to collect the medicinal plants that they use to stay healthy. I honestly can say that I've never been in a sacred Canari forest before so I was really excited. One thing that was interesting was that we had to ask Mother Nature for permission to spend time in the forest. Some people in the group thought that this was a little silly but I was willing to go along with it to be respectful. I don't think that it's too much to ask for that opportunity, and I sort of believe in there being more to this world than the physical. But, that's neither here nor there.
The ceremony involved some playing of indigenous instruments, the waving of some medicinal plants and saying of traditional prayers. I volunteered to be prayed over and I just thought that it was a once in a lifetime experience. How often do you get to be blessed in a sacred forest in Ecuador? We also ate lunch, which was delicious. It's probably the most organic and healthy food I've ever eaten- chicken, rice, carrots, herbal tea, etc. There is a difference when the food is grown and raised with love and hard work by people with experience.
Our main guide showed us how to play instruments that he made with his own hands, and then we played farm games. They had a cool zipline that was really fun to go down, which we all took advantage of. We chased chickens, and then played pinata with clay pots, and then I learned how to milk a cow, which wasn't too hard. The lady that showed us how to do it was a lot faster than I was!
We were all tired by the end of the day but I think everyone agreed that we had a wonderful time and were really grateful that the Canari showed us so much of their culture. I know that I was.