When Ecuador says rainy season, they mean rain. Every day. Not torrential downpours, but slow, steady, erratic cloudbursts. The sky can be clear and the sun strong. Then claps of thunder and the sky opens.
Being a person who enjoys seeing the heavens cry, I am perfectly content. (However, Katherine and I have decided that we must have umbrellas for protection from the rain and the sun.)
I had hoped to make it to church this morning. But the outing was called due to weather. We didn’t feel like showing up looking like drowned rats and we didn’t know the exact location to tell a taxi. So next week we’ll make our appearance. In the meantime, I’ll find the exact address and get an umbrella.
Yesterday was a first for me.
I experienced a native cleansing ritual called a limpia. David, Katherine and I attended a health fair at the Parque de la Madre nearby — a spot that has become a favorite haunt of ours. While Katherine and her new friend got their faces face painted ( a cat [el gato] and a mouse [el raton]), I shuffled over to the booth with the longest line.
A tent staffed by yachaks (like shamans) of one of the indigenous tribes offered traditional cleansing rituals using a combination of incantations and medicinal plants.
Google describes a limpia as a spiritual cleansing, used to cleanse the body, mind, and soul of negativity. It is known to remove bad luck, blockages, confusions, bad karma, imbalances, helps with addictions, phobias, and fears. Limpias are supposedly powerful for removing spiritual illness, and helps with physical health problems as well but this is not a replacement for visiting your doctor.
The limpia brings peace, rejuvenation, protection, clarity, and opportunity your way. It attracts prosperity and blessings, balances the chakras, and much more.
Well, there’s been a bit of that negative thinking going around in my head, so I stepped right up.
And the flogging began!
I was beaten soundly about the head, ears, shoulders, arms, front and backside, legs and feet with a bundle of herbs. I had oil poured on my hair. The yachak spit a liquid on my face, stomach and back. I had another liquid poured down the back of my neck. She painted small black crosses on my forehead, above my belly button and on my back. And all the while she was chanting. I closed my eyes and took it like a grownup.
The process lasted only a few minutes. She didn’t use an egg which is part of many limpias, nor did she blow smoke in my face. Time was limited as dozens more people, young and old alike, stood waiting for their chance at ridding themselves of negativity.
I gave her a few dollars and left, carrying with me an exotic fragrance that clung to me the remainder of the day.
David and our new Fujian friend, Kini, asked if I felt different. While I wasn’t transformed, I actually did feel somewhat lighter, more refreshed, and a bit more centered.
Before me in line was a couple with four young children. All six went through the ritual though the youngest (about 4) was none too pleased at first.
After watching some indigenous dances and visiting other booths — an unlikely combination of a blood pressure station staffed by the local medical school, limpias performed by vachaks, sixth graders from Katherines new school demonstrating whoa, go and stop foods, and fresh produce from the local market, we sat on the grass, indulged in bowls of fresh fruit purchased from the local Boy Scout troop ($1 each) and discussed life in Fiji, Ecuador, and the USA.
Our common consensus: our lives are very good in Cuenca.
Fast forward six or so hours. Katherine was beat and wanted no more social life. David and I let her and went out to one of our favorite new restaurants: Chill and Grill.
We got there early enough (long line when we left) and were seated and served right away. The quesadillas are…delicious. The $18 bill wasn’t nearly as inexpensive as the lunch we shared on Friday (three almuerzos for $5.25 total) but worth every single dollar.
Home to rest. Later in the evening, David looked out the window to see wedding photos being taken on the bridge outside our apartment. New beginnings are everywhere it seems. Hope their new life is as beautiful as ours feels.
David found the following particularly interesting and wanted me to share. At the park, two basketball games were being played simultaneously on the court while only four people were participating in the soccer game. Not saying basketball is taking over, but the fact that the two teams took over the soccer court struck David as odd. Hence the photo.