Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Learning from Strangers

This weekend was absolutely amazing. Although I had already been to Otavalo, Ecuador, I revisited this year and it was a completely different experience. That's what's nice about going back to places after a while, you've grown up and you see everything with a different perspective and it's a whole new experience. We had dinner at a marvelous organic place called Buena Vista and I had some good conversations with Karelle, Conner, and Kayce. All awesome people. We went looking for a pie shop someone had told us about, and supposedly it was very close to the restaurant we had just eaten at. A man at the restaurant told us it was located "diez pasitos" from Buena Vista, meaning ten steps. We walked aimlessly for about 15 minutes until we were across the street and saw the sign "The Pie Shop" right next to Buena Vista. Taught us to listen to the locals and look in all directions when looking for anything. At night, I was reading at the hostal by the fireplace and a drunk Irishman asked me to read to him out load in Spanish, and then payed me one dollar for my services. Oh the places I'll go and people I'll meet. The next day we went to the huge crafts market, called Plaza Pancho, and saw so many beautiful pieces of art. After having focused so much on consumerism during seminars, I was set on not buying anything. After all, I had already been there three years ago and totally splurged. Walking around and seeing all of these products created by Ecuadorian people started to bring out the consumer in me. I had totally convinced myself that I truly didn't need to buy anything. I have everything I need to live comfortably, all of these urges to buy are only for wants, not for needs. Why do we buy all of these things we truly don't need? Why do we let the media convince us to fall into their trap of consuming the unnecessary? When is enough really enough?  I only brought $15 to spend, and ended up spending $150. I've developed a bigger love for the art of bracelet making. In Costa Rica, Roma taught me a couple of stitches but in the market in Otavalo I learned all that i needed to know to make all kinds of bracelets  necklaces, rings, etc., all out of waxed string. It's incredible how the traveling artisans have their own little community. I met a lady in Quito the weekend earlier named Leo from Switzerland, and then met a guy in Otavalo aslo named Leo and also from Switzerland, both artisans that worked with the material I love to work with, waxed string. . . what a small world! I met a girl named Lucia form Spain in Otavalo, and she was selling a bracelet of a stitch I had never before encountered. I was determined to learn it. I went back after lunch and spent four hours with her, her boyfriend, and Sarah, learning all the stitches I could possibly imagine. They were so wonderful. For lack of a better word, they were what one would call "hippies" but I hate using labels to describe people. They were open-minded, loved to travel, money was not their first priority, and most importantly they wer happy. The boyfriend, from Argentina, had dreads and was beautiful. We talked about how sad it was that so many people in the world only cared about money, and failed to appreciate and enjoy the small things in life. I was so happy that they were willing to teach me everything, considering the fact that I had asked Leo to teach me and he was very hesitant and wanted to keep his talent for himself. On the other hand Lucia and El Negro were so excited to share their talent, and as more people walked up to learn they were open to new students. I felt lucky to have met them and wished them love and happiness in life. Dinned that night was delicious, and once again I had some question provoking conversations with Karelle, Sarah, and Conner. Once again we got pie at the delicious "Pie Shop". At night, we played cards by the fireplace at the hostal, which was coincidentally located next door to the hostal I had stayed in 3 years ago with my AdventuresCrossCountry trip. Sunday, we went up to FuyaFuya, a mountain by the lakes of Mojanda Grande. It was a cloudy day, but still beautiful. We split into two groups, one that would climb to the top of the mountain, the other that would walk around the whole lake. Despite my inappropriate shoe apparel, my Vans, I decided to climb to the top of FuyaFuya. It was all uphill and pretty tough, but most definitely worth it. When I reached the top I felt renewed, and we were literally in the clouds. It was so dense we could not see to the bottom of the mountain, let alone see the lake. When I looked up I felt as though if there is a heaven, this is what it would look like. All white. Pure. Beautiful. Karelle, Kayce, and I had to go back to Quito to get our Chinese visas, but unfortunately they were not granted. We had spent two other weekends in Quito working on them, and it was just a waste of time and money. I wasn't pissed at all though, cause at least we got to eat some good food each time, especially at a new one we found called, "The Maple." I came back to Atahualpa with a new bracelet, backpack, earrings, necklace, and mindset. I learned that in life you don't necessarily need some things, but some things are worth buying. Whether it was for aesthetic beauty, or simple pleasure, I didn't feel guilty for my purchases. They were all handmade by the people of this wonderful country, and all the proceeds went directly to them. What better way to buy then that?

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