The Wednesday before heading to Saraguro, one of the CEDEI professors gave a lecture on natural medicine. This charla assisted us in understanding the process and the theories behind the different plants and uses. Immediately after arriving to Saraguro we went to this beautiful overlook of the city. At the overlook, I started to feel very lightheaded; my vision became very blurry and overall I just felt like there was something wrong, but I continued walking. By the time that we arrived to the bus that was taking us to our next location, I started losing my ability to breathe and I also started having something like a panic attack/seizure. I honestly had no control over my body and was extensively scared. My entire group assisted by placing their hands on me and tried to get me to focus on my breathing, but at this time all I could focus on was that I couldn’t get my body to stop shaking.
Eventually my body calmed down and I was able to regulate my breathe. After this, I received a ritual cleansing from an indigenous woman from Saraguro. Before this started, one of my friends stated, “You just have to believe.” This cleansing of my energy consisted of brushing plants all over my body, while she stated words of positivity. Afterwards, I actually felt better. I was able to continue with the rest of the group and hike, when only moments before I was certain I was going to have to stay in the hotel for the rest of the day. The hike that we ventured on was very beautiful and our final destination was a location that was sacred. Here we all gathered together to share positive energy. We all also went to the ledge of the mountain and screamed at the top of our lungs. This is way more energizing and relieving than you would imagine. After this, we saw a demonstration of the beading process of the jewelry from Saraguro as well as saw the process of textile making. That evening we all ate together and a band played traditional music as we attempted to learn the dance moves. It was an evening filled with smiles and laughter.
The following day, the group of us participated in a cleansing ritual. This was absolutely beautiful as we faced each direction: north, south, east and west. We sent positive thoughts the way of the people and the land. My heart was open in receiving the beauty of this unique culture, one that so greatly appreciates the land on this earth. This culture encourages practicing gratitude with respect. I still do not understand what occurred in my body or what happened that day. Moments like these are why I studied abroad. To learn. To feel. To grow. It has not happened again, and yet I feel a stronger connection to myself and to the earth after experiencing the sacred beauty that Saraguro holds.