Stories of Ecuador from times past
Replies: 7 - Last Post: Jul 8, 2012 7:33 AM Last Post By: vnrose
Jun 26, 2012 2:22 PM
Stories of Ecuador from times pastMy father in law, who is now 90, was a police officer in Ecuador.
Everyday at lunch, he likes to reminisce. Today, he told us about traveling from Riobamba to Santo Domingo, in the days before the highway was built.
In those days, he told us, it took eight days to make this journey by mule. They would travel along the old roads, changing mules and eating after each day's ride at tambos established at regular intervals. After this long ride, they would arrive at Santo Domingo, and would be met by Tsachila "curanderos". The Tsachila indigenous people, who for a long time were known as "Colorados" because they applied a red achiote paste to their hair, are famous in Ecuador for the ability of their curanderos to heal the sick.
When they arrived, the curandero, who they had never met, would greet them by name and call them into his hut. He would ask them about their families, by name, including details, such as how they were going with various specific ailments.
This seemed to the travelers to be some kind of magic. How could the curandero know so much about them, when they had never met?
Some time later, the mistery was resolved. At the tambos, runners would eat with the travelers and listen to their gossip. Then the runner would (obviously) run on ahead of the travelers and sell the information to the curanderos, complete with details - the Lieutenant is Jorge Gutierrez, he suffers from gout, his wife is Lola, she has longstanding pain from a fall from a horse, and so on.
The curanderos would then use this information to convince the travelers of their magic powers.
My father in law told us that some time later, he asked a curandero about this. He was told that games like this gave people the impression that curanderos were "brujos" or sorcerers, but this was not true. Rather, they used their knowledge of plants and other forest products to help people to recover from illness. But, the curandero told him, pointing at a man with a severe laceration, that man needs penicillin!
We've a few other stories I might post at some time. If you've got some tales of Ecuador of old, post them here.
Jun 26, 2012 7:19 PM
Jun 26, 2012 10:47 PM
Jun 27, 2012 3:38 PM
Jul 2, 2012 4:50 AM
Jul 7, 2012 4:25 PM
Jul 7, 2012 4:39 PM
6My father in law was posted to a small town in the mountains between Cuenca and Loja. It was his first post after being promoted to Teniente (Lieutenant), and he was ordered to take the month's pay for the soldiers to the post. The pay was packed into saddlebags and loaded onto a sad old mule, and he headed off, by himself, with the mule and map, to the post, about a day's march away.
The mule plodded along very slowly, and it was slow going winding along the mountain paths, often having to pull the mule along by a rope. Around lunch time, he sat down by a bush on a narrow path to drink some water and eat the lunch his wife (my mother in law) had packed for him. As he had been walking for 6 hours, he decided to have a rest, and dozed for about an hour.
When he woke up, the mule was gone! In a panic, he jumped up and looked about, sure that he'd been ambushed! He drew his pistol and ran back down the path. Suddenly, he spied the mule on the other side of a mediumish (for Ecuador) valley, by itself. It had just wandered off, so he ran after it shouting out for it to come back. This turned out to be the worst possible thing to do, as the mule was spooked by this shrieking maniac who had spent hours torturing him by making him toil up mountains weighed down by supplies - so the mule took off!
As fast as my father in law ran, the mule went a little bit faster, and it eventually disappeared out of sight. He looked for it for a day and a night, and eventually, dejected and quite afraid of the consequences, made his way to his new command without his soldiers pay, mail and gifts from home.
The mule, off course, having trekked the mountains for years, knew exactly where to find its water and food, so when my father in law finally trudged into the army post, there was the mule tied to a rail, surrounded by well paid soldiers smoking their newly arrived cigarettes, and, those who could read were reading letters from home.
Jul 8, 2012 7:33 AM
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