(Written 9/10 de agosto)
I know that it’s only been two days since my last blog/journal, but today was so eventful that I feel it’s important to write something.
Tonight Ecuador began its celebration of el día de independencia–10 de agosto. The country comes together to remember the batalla de Pinchincha and the events that led to its independence from Spain. There were some 250,000 people in El Centro Histórico de Quito to participate in the festivities which included: free tours into the various cathedrals and musems, free baile, music, dance performances and a firework display among other things. But this blog is more about myself than the festivities–pretty egotistical, right?
(Written 7 de agosto 2008)
As of about 11:00 tonight, I will have been in Ecuador for two weeks. As boring and factual as that may seem, to me it is an incredibly surreal statement. I have done so much in such a sort expanse of time that it feels as though I have been here for months. I have seen gorgeous mountains, volcanoes and lakes. I hiked to and waded in a sacred “cascarada” (small waterfall) that the indigenous still flock to for certain festivals in Ecuador. I’ve learned to bargain with vendors in Otavalo, an indigenous market where there are so many hand made crafts that it is difficult not to be overwhelmed–you got ripped off if you bought an Alpaca sweater for more than $15 or $20. I have been to the center of the world and straddled two hemispheres. I have tasted naranjía, guanabana, tomate de árbol, yuca, ahí, empanadas and platanos. I have seen a cathedral rumored to be built by demons. I have learned of a proposed constitution and evolving governments in Ecuador. I have created friendships with a great group of students who are experiencing some of the same joys and struggles that I am.
There are challenges. I know that I still have much to learn, but I already feel as though I am being forced to examine my own culture and the role of the United States in Latin America. Yesterday we attended the Foundación Guayasamil and viewed the artwork of the famous painter (see photos). He truly captured some of the anguish and struggles throughout the history of Latin America. It is not easy to see this pain when you know that your country played a role in bringing it about.
Hello all. My name is Mayeken (Maya) Irene Kehr and I am currently a junior at Bethel College (By the way, it is really difficult to explain what a threshing stone is to people outside of the midwest.). I am currently studying as an exchange student at La Universidad de San Francisco de Quito in Quito, Ecuador. I am here through Brethren Colleges Abroad, a program that partners with Bethel and many other colleges to provide students the experience of living and studying abroad.
With no cell phone reception and spotty satellite internet, I’ve enjoyed being able to focus on the people we are around.
On Sunday, Will and I met a woman who, after conversation during potluck lunch, invited us to join her on her running route by the ruins of an old Mennonite church atop “Third Mesa.” An amazing experience: running a gradual rise in the soft sand of a shaded valley; climbing the same steep stone paths used centuries ago by Hopi women carrying water to the nearby village perched defensively at the edge of the mesa; hearing description of the history of the struggles of this church, twice struck by lightening and burnt to the ground leaving only stone walls and arches; humbled by the view of the setting sun behind the far off San Francisco peaks; but also hearing first hand of the experience of a woman caught between Hopi and Christian tradition and beliefs.
Well, talk about sand! Today is our first full day in Kykotsmovi, AZ and we are having a bad sand storm. Welcome to the Hopi Nation in the high desert in the four corners region.
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