Monday, July 31, 2017

Week 49 - Getting to Know Cayambe

Dearest friends and family,

What can I say? First off, I’m happy to report that I’m back living in Ecuador! Early last week I spent a lot of time traveling between Otavalo and Quito waiting for and then picking up my new companion, Elder Cuevas from Lima Peru, and then moving into my new area – a little city called Cayambe situated at the base of an epic snow-capped volcano of the same name.

My trip to Quito was really enjoyable and even though I knew nothing about travelling to Quito from Otavalo and the 2 other missionaries I was with even less we did manage to arrive safely. I got to see two long-lost friends Elders Chavarrega and George! We overnighted with them in “La Luz” which is an apartment located a little outside of downtown Quito with a bunch of mattresses that houses missionaries who come into Quito for visits for business and meetings and things. The evening was filled with laughter and lots of memories of crazy adventures back on the coast in the earliest days of my mission. The next day I picked up my companion and we caught the bus from Quito to Otavalo and met up with Elders Welch and Justiniano and worked their area in downtown Otavalo for the night.

The next morning (Thursday) we finally made our way to Cayambe for the first time and started getting to know our area. I know I have said this many times over the last several months but this time it’s true – Cayambe is the most awe-inspiring place in all of the world! How do I even begin to detail it out for you? It is a little village built into the base of a giant snow-capped volcano. The volcano itself is a bit terror-inspiring because of its sheer size and dominating appearance, evidence of the raw power of nature. The city is a blend of campo and sierra, it’s kind of hard to explain. Its like the mountains come up out of nowhere, jetting upward jaggedly leaving all of the buildings appearing small and tucked away in the more flatter areas. This area is also the largest by far. We will be focusing ourselves on small, manageable chunks of the city because the outskirts just keep going and going. The population is a mix of latinos and indigenous people. The indigenous women wear colorful skirts with white, meticulously stitched shirts and thick, woven belts that are unbelievably colorful. It’s like they have a different sense of color…like their brains are able to process a more advanced perception of color than mine. Or maybe they’re just super lucky every time they sit down to weave something because it all looks so perfect. The crowning element of clothing is the sleek, black hat. It’s a slanted hat, very distinct, with a peacock feather sticking out the side. I absolutely love being surrounded by such an abundance of culture and tradition. It really is beautiful. I’m trying harder not to talk about food all the time but another great thing are the famous bizcochoes of Cayambe. It’s like a little pastry bread stick that is buttery and crumbly and goes perfectly with dulce de leche or caramel. It’s wonderful.

I guess what I’d most like to convey this week is that I’m super happy, indulging in my new surroundings and living every day to its fullest. I’ve been able to really polish up my positivity and find the positive in things around me which I know will help me for the rest of life. I sincerely hope you are all happy and living life to its fullest as well. I love you all and will see you soon!


Elder Ericksen

Other tidbits:

  • There are lots of different types of bizcochos throughout latin America but Cayambe is particularly famous for theirs. There are several videos on Youtube that show how they are made. I've chosen this one because it shows off the city a little bit. It's in spanish and one of the things explained is that the bizcocho arose out of the Spanish conquerors desire for a bread that could last several days out in the open air. The ingredients appear to be butter, pig fat and flour. This may be the area where Adam puts on some weight. We'll save the other regional delicacy (guinea pig) for another week. :)

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