Waking up this morning to the song of the roosters, our first full day in Ecuador I could hear the multitude of animals residing at the hacienda. It was around 7:30 when I entered the warm shower not knowing when the opportunity would next surface.
Taking my camera I went for a pre-breakfast stroll through the gardens. I was fascinated by the water system that seemed to mark each of the sectioned off areas of the hacienda. I noticed the large pool like reservoir that seemed to collect water for distribution to the grounds wondering if this is their irrigation method for the gardens.
Walking into one of the remote fields I saw the horses grazing in a small pasture paying little notice to my curiosity. Finally as meal time approached I entered the kitchen with the fire crackling in the open fire place, and picked my spot among my fellow adventurers trying to communicate with the staff who spoke Spanish (something I could not do). Looking at our waiter I took the easy way out and pointed to what was already on the table signaling that I would have 1 of those. It turned out I had scrambled eggs mixed with fresh vegetables and café con leche a 50/50 blend of warm milk and strong espresso like coffee.
Following breakfast we were instructed to gather at a nearby field. Misinterpreting the instructions I began a little bit of a hike along the road, doing a little jogging in the 9,000 foot elevation, made me a little bit light headed. Finally retracing my steps I found the field and joined the morning circle.
Sitting in the field we began a more intimate sharing / introduction of ourselves, why we were there, what we were looking to get out of the week. Creatively done, Eve our fortunate to have MD and co-facilitator, took out a ball of twine. She explained that the ball would act like a talking stick giving the possessor the floor to speak. When done the possessor of the twine would throw it to someone else in the circle until finally when everyone had spoken the woven string formed a dream catcher. The sharing of each member varied in intimacy and some included hidden confessions, some personal struggles, others a guarded story or two. The most interesting event occurring was the arrival of the horses. About 3 of them entered the field and one in particular seemed fascinated by the activity of our group sharing. Slowly edging closer, this one beautiful beast was less than a yard behind me, intently listening to each speaker. It was if we had another member of our group sharing in the experience.
I will not break the confidence of others in the group, but for me the words of my heart mixed with tears in my eyes as I spoke of a lack of belief in that which I have been taught. I spoke of my travels and belief in a global community, free of the arbitrary boundaries known as nations and the hate and lack of compassion that marks there borders. I spoke of my disconnect and desire to experience a connection to spirit, something greater than myself.
Eventually I passed the ball of twine and with each story I learned a little more of each person. The psychologists strangely enough all sitting together, an older man looking sullen and weary, another woman whose hearing problems tracked my visual challenges in time and severity. All in all a mixed and diverse group.
Following our morning ritual it was back on the bus and a trip to our next stop the home of Alberto Taxso a healer and friend of our facilitators. Alberto had year by year built a compound on the side of a bare mountain. The mountain was not always bear, One thriving with trees and life it was cultivated on the advise of our wise US scientists as a way of providing crops to the outlining community. As many of our arrogant ventures wind up, the crops after a few years died out. The mountain then died out with the crops as the rain and weather began eroding it leaving is desolate and useless. We were informed that Alberto was giving this compound to the Dream Change Coalition as a focal point for his northern brothers to meet and learn the ways of his people.
Our first stop in the compound was highlighted by a shopping trip (a common occurrence as I would soon find out). Clothes, trinkets, and marvelous tapestries were laid out for our perusal and purchase. The rain hampered our shopping as many of our travelers made their first purchases of the trip
Again getting back on the bus we proceeded to the compound for a wonderful vegetarian lunch hosted by Albertos wife a powerful Shaman in her own right. We soon found out that Alberto was not to join us as he return from the ruins of Peru delayed his arrival. I decided to walk along the grounds of the compound exploring the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
Prior to another delicious meal of soup, fritters, corn, and other vegetarian entrees we grouped together in the healing room for a conversation with our Shamanic Chef known for her healing ways with food. Discussing cooking, children, and topics of the family some of our group took advantage of a healing session.
Finding myself in a coed room I quickly found out I was not to gain any sleep as my roommates were the most powerful snorers of our group. In the middle of the night I remembered John's foretelling that many of us would incur challenges to overcome. For me it started with the simple task of falling asleep. I tried going into a Shamanic journey sending healing non-snoring energy to my fellow travelers but their snoring and energy was too much for me to overcome as it was three against one. Taking the opportunity to meditate and write I spent most of the night in the hallway listening to the whispers coming from other rooms and the drumming of the rain against the compound roof.
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