Ecuador Blog Day 3: Travel to Chimborazo Province

By: Rebecca Wong
Today we left for Chimborazo! The five hour drive didn’t feel long at all thanks to the incredible view.

By: REBECCA WONG

Cotopaxi volcano in the Chimborazo Province of Ecuador.

Cotopaxi volcano in the Chimborazo province of Ecuador.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Today we left for Chimborazo! The five hour drive didn’t feel long at all thanks to the incredible view. On that one drive we got to pass by four volcanoes: the “Father and Son”, “Ruminahui” (which means stoned faced), “Corazon” (which means heart) and “Cotopaxi”. Our driver Carlos, who brought us everywhere the entire trip (over hills and bridges and through mountains and valleys, quite literally), proudly explained the story associated with each volcano.

The story of Ruminahui, who was once an Incan general when the Spaniards invaded South America, really intrigued me. When the conquistadors started conquering parts of the Incan empire, Ruminahui knew they would soon come for Quito. He decided to burn the entire city so the Spanish wouldn’t have anything to claim by the time they arrived there. And thus, all of the buildings in Quito only date from the 1500’s onward because nothing before then exists.

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Views of the Andes Mountains. Photo by Rebecca Wong

Then we stopped at a gas station for a restroom break (one of many – and I mean a lot, to come) and I was amazed that even when you’re in the middle of nowhere, the views are just incredible. The Andes Mountains stood like dormant giants in the distance, covered with a colourful quilt of farms.

We arrived at Totorillas around 4 pm and settled into our new home, which was an hacienda, or colonial mansion. But it was far from a mansion by Western standards. The outside was painted peeling white. There was no heating and hardly any lighting since all the electricity was from a generator. Our cabin rooms were divided by “walls” which were less than half an inch thick, through which all three cabins would have discussions into the night. And it was cold. God, it was cold! Lord knows how a seemingly thin blanket on our bunk beds kept us warm at night, when it dropped to 8 degrees Celsius.

And that night was when I finally cracked. The previous two days I had felt totally fine, totally cool. But me being me, everything hits me three to five days after the fact. And that’s when the homesickness crashed in and when I realized that we were in the middle of the Andes Mountains, in a foreign country, virtually alone. I started to doubt that I could do this; maybe I wasn’t actually prepared to rough it out for the next 10 days. Maybe I was a weak city girl who couldn’t even last 15 days in rural Ecuador. I did a lot of thinking that night.

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Views of the Andes Mountains. Photo by Rebeca Wong

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Views of the Andes Mountains. Photo by Rebecca Wong

But then I realized that I wasn’t what was important here. I was there to help others build a school that they so desperately needed. So I had better suck it up and deal with it because their troubles were a lot bigger than my own.

Lesson of the day: Our problems at home are so minute compared to those around the world. Is it really such a big deal that a waitress got our order wrong or that we couldn’t check our e-mail because the WiFi was down that day? When you see what other people have to deal with in life, suddenly our “big” issues shrink in importance. Seeing how little some Ecuadorian children had, seeing how hard farmers had to work to reap their crops, my worries about not being able to take a shower were shamed into disappearance.

Song of the day: “C.S. Lewis Song” by Brooke Fraser
This song carries great meaning for me. She sings about finding yourself and breaking out of your shell to become who you were “born to become”. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4RzmlWZ5fU

-Rebecca

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