A Different Kind of Beauty

meghan blog2This week I expe­ri­enced sev­eral dif­fer­ent forms of beauty. Not all of them may seem appeal­ing to the naked eye but with a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, I learned to find the beauty. The first expe­ri­ence came when we vis­ited the Guayasamin Art Museum on Tues­day. Oswaldo Guayasamin was a 20th cen­tury Ecuadorean artist who used his art as an expres­sion of human and social inequal­i­ties espe­cially regard­ing the slav­ery, racism, and poverty in South Amer­ica. Much of his art comes across as sad, daunt­ing, and at times even fright­en­ing. The beauty in his work though, comes with his effort for peace. Guayasamin used his art so that oth­ers may feel the sad­ness and real­ize the need for equal­ity and peace.

meghan blog2(1)The “odd” beauty con­tin­ued as we trav­eled ten hours in a tour bus Wednes­day night to Puerto Lopez, the pacific coast of Ecuador. This coast was no Miami or LA. Puerto Lopez is a very small fish­ing town and the streets were far from glam­orous. But as I watched the peo­ple liv­ing and work­ing there, I found hard work and deter­mi­na­tion. The streets held very small stores where peo­ple were try­ing to sell what they could to make a liv­ing. The items ranged from hand­made bags and ham­mocks to Coca-Cola and Chips. Many of them were at their stand from sun­rise to sun­set. Not only were the items beau­ti­ful, but so were the people.

meghan blog2(2)At times the beauty was not so hard to find. On Thurs­day we went to the beach and swam in the ocean! The water was not warm but not as cold as the Wash­ing­ton Coast, either. I had so much joy as we “swam” in the shal­low waves, being tossed side to side by the power of the tide. We were play­ing like chil­dren and we were care­free. When I looked out at the hori­zon and real­ized how far the coast stretches all the way to Wash­ing­ton, I had an image of how small I was and how enor­mous God’s beau­ti­ful cre­ation was. That, is beautiful.

 

meghan blog2(3)Equally as beau­ti­ful and mag­nif­i­cent was the trip to “Poor Man’s Gala­pa­gos” or Isla de Plata (Sil­ver Island). We were able to watch the largest crea­tures on Earth put on a show for us. Hump­back whales were one of my favorite ani­mals grow­ing up and here I was watch­ing them flip through the air only a hand­ful of meters from our boat. It was incred­i­ble. When we first arrived at the Island, though, I was not very impressed. I saw dry, dead land and plants. We saw some very beau­ti­ful birds though. The blue footed boo­bies were very cute. I soon real­ized though that I climbed all the way to the top of this gigan­tic island. How could I not find beauty in such a large land mass in the mid­dle of the ocean.
meghan blog2(4)meghan blog2(5)And last, per­haps the most odd form of beauty: mud bathing. We drove to the arche­o­log­i­cal site of Agua Blanca just out­side Puerto Lopez. At the end of the trip we had the chance to cover our­selves in mud and then rinse off in a lagoon of sul­fur water. It was per­haps the most strange thing I’ve ever done: using mud to clean. How­ever, it was a ton of fun and my skin felt incred­i­bly smooth after­ward. This week, I have had so many expe­ri­ences with nature that I have never faced before. But all of them were beau­ti­ful in their own, unique way.

 

The Meeting of Cultures

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I have now been in Quito for a full week. What an expe­ri­ence I have had so far! I’m learn­ing some­thing new every­day, whether its Span­ish or the every­day life of Ecuador.
My first les­son came at the Los Ange­les air­port. I’ve never flown alone and that place was huge! It’s a good thing I had a three hour lay­over because find­ing my way to the gate was a feat. When I landed I couldn’t find my flight on the board so I asked for help. I was told I needed to be in ter­mi­nal 2 and I was in ter­mi­nal 6. I didn’t even know air­ports have more than one ter­mi­nal! So I had to find my way to the bus to get to ter­mi­nal 6. The man I asked to help me with direc­tions though had a super thick accent and I couldn’t under­stand him. And he was speak­ing Eng­lish! Just wait until I get to where they only speak Span­ish. But I finally made it to my ter­mi­nal and bet­ter yet, made it all the way to Quito and the house of my host family!

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The next morn­ing I woke up to use the restroom. I knew that in many coun­ties, includ­ing Ecuador, you shouldn’t flush the toi­let paper because the pipes are smaller and they get plugged eas­ily. Well I for­got until the sec­ond I pressed the han­dle. Quickly, I had to reach down and grab my toi­let paper to keep it from clog­ging the toi­let. Talk about a great start to my morn­ing.
The chal­lenges didn’t stop there. Mon­day morn­ing, we started school. We were wel­comed by the direc­tor, Cesar. Every­thing he said was impor­tant, every­thing he said was in Span­ish. And I didn’t under­stand any of it! And that’s how it was for every­one I spoke to. How­ever, my Span­ish is improv­ing every­day and I’m lov­ing learn­ing so much!
The learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties con­tinue but so does the fun. On Tues­day we vis­ited Old Quito. The build­ings are hun­dreds of years old and every­thing is gor­geous. We vis­ited many cathe­drals, even climbed on the roof of one to over­look the city. So cool! The most excit­ing part was leav­ing the church. There was a major protest going on in the streets out­side and I got a front row seat. It was scary but exciting!

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On Sat­ur­day, we vis­ited La Mitad del Mundo (the mid­dle of the world). It was such an awe­some thing to expe­ri­ence. We learned the effects of being on the equa­tor. Our strength is weak­ened, water doesn’t cycle down the drain, our bal­ance is hin­dered and it’s pos­si­ble to bal­ance an egg on the head of a nail. In fact, I was the only one in the group able to bal­ance it, and so I was deemed an Egg Mas­ter. We were also able to place a foot in each hemi­sphere at the same time!

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I’ve expe­ri­enced so much this first week that it seems like I’ve been here for­ever! I wish i could tell all the sto­ries but there just isn’t time! I can’t wait to see what else is in store for us in the next three weeks!

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