Eventually our group made it back to civilization. We visited the city of Otavalo and had the opportunity to shop in the huge outdoor marketplace. Here, Ecuadorians sell all sorts of handmade jewelry, crafts, paintings, blankets, bags, and any other type of gift you could possibly want. In the Otavalo market you have to haggle your price. For example, the vendors will tell you a price, then you offer half, then they’ll reply with another price, and so on.
We then drove to a region of Otavalo where many healers, or Shaman, live and work. We visited a Shaman and he demonstrated a cleaning on Lauren. Our Shaman was trained in a remote area of the Amazon by the Amazon Cofan (a tribe). Apparently this is the best training you can get. He can heal both physical and emotional ailments– in fact he says there is no difference since both ailments are caused by energy imbalances. The training for a Shaman is based around a potent hallucinogenic that they drink from pottery with images of jaguars or anacondas. Then the animal spirits visit you and give you their energy. For the first part of the cleansing, he removed the bad energy from Lauren. It was a bizarre experience involving a ton of spitting. He drank a lot of super strong alcohol, then would spit onto a candle over a spear which would cause a huge flame to leap out. This flame is supposed to scare the evil spirits out. He also rubbed eggs on her. Eggs are one cell, so they are able to accept a lot of energy, and they absorb the negative energy. Then Lauren had to spit on everything and it was all burned and disposed of in a river (must be discarded in pure running water). The next part of the ritual involved giving her good energy, and good luck. During this portion he switched from drinking alcohol to drinking cologne, and would chew flower petals and spit them all over her. At one point he chewed flower petals, and spit them into her hand with cologne, then she had to rub them on her face and head and throw the petals behind her. It was a very strange experience, but many Ecuadorians and other peoples visit him often for cleansings and to heal ailments.
At the hotel later we were able to practice some Ecuadorian New Years traditions, which are super wild! I would love to bring some of them back to the States. We wrote down the bad things we wanted to leave behind in 2017, and also the good things we wanted to happen in 2018. Then we put them inside of a huge dummy we had named Jorge. Then, we lit Jorge on fire, and as he burned we had to jump over him 12 times. Then we set off fireworks. We did all of this right on the lawn of the hotel! Imagine even trying to do something like this in the US! The whole ordeal was exhilarating.