Today was an earlier day than yesterday, and we had gotten through the listening part and into the doing. Even though the morning was full of painting and staining and finishing the ceiling we still had opportunities to learn about their culture through our work and observations. For example, on a walk through the community of Tocagon, Lori Bennett explained to me why some homes looked barely livable and others were much more finished. The locals build their homes based on when they get paid, so this paycheck they may put up a wall or finish a window or even add their final paint job. Another thing Lori brought to my attention was how the locals took pride in their front doors. When looking at a home, despite its level of completeness, the front door will be beautiful and ornate and contrasts the simplicity of the home.
In the afternoon we went to the Otavalo Market. The place was full of color, smells, and people unimaginably devoted to selling their product. This was something I wasn’t used to back home. Venders would come up, put their product in your hands, and try their hardest to sell it to you. In English I wanted to say “it’s gorgeous and very nice but I don’t think I’m going to buy it today”, but in Spanish all I could say was “no gracias” and after seeing their disappointment maybe a “pero muy hermosa” and walk away. From the market we made our way to trail where we could hike to a waterfall. It wasn’t hard to put aside the initial desire to get to the falls as every inch of the hike was breathtaking. It was hard to even notice that the whole round trip was uphill because you would look down onto the green crops of the local farmers, spot the frequent black and white cows, and look out to see the horizon of mountains (one of which is an active volcano). This country continues to surprise me wether it’s with its natural beauty or the small observations of the Ecuadorians’ culture.