Hello! Morgan asked me to write about my travels in Ecuador, which sounded like fun. Here it goes:
The excuse for my first trip to Ecuador was research for a book called The Queen of Water, which I was co-writing with my friend Maria Virginia Farinango, a Quichua woman who had a fascinating girlhood in the Andes. (She liv
es in Otavalo, Ecuador now, but comes to Colorado for a few months every year.) While I was spending time there, I felt inspired to writea second book set in this stunning landscape and interesting culture. Over a year later, I returned for another research trip, this one geared toward The Indigo Notebook.
From the yummy dishes Maria cooked here in Colorado, I already knew I loved Ecuadorian food (well, I never tried roasted guinea pig…). Potatoes originated in the Andes—not surprisingly, I ate potatoes with nearly every meal.
I hiked around some Quichua communities with some of Maria's relatives, whose great energy and smiles inspired the characters of the girls who show Wendell and Zeeta around Agua Santa. (Although these girls had nice, loving parents!) I also had fun spending time with Maria's older relatives. These women are stripping corn kernels off of cobs, which Zeeta and Wendell do in The Indigo Notebook.
I loved hearing local folklore about tunnels under mountains, devils in caves, a waterlogged hacienda at the bottom of a lake (all of which I included in The Indigo Notebook)…
I'm always fascinated by spiritual beliefs and rituals in different cultures. Maria's relatives told me about Quichua beliefs (with origins in ancient Incan beliefs), which emphasize the sacredness of the natural landscape. Each important mountain in the area is a different god or goddess, associated with its own mystical stories. And then, there's the Mother Earth goddess, Pachamamma, and the Su
n god, and others. And sacred waters abound! Maria took me and our friend to have her bathe with rose petals in the sacred waters of the Peguche waterfall (which Layla does in the book.)
I also love learning about healing practices and participating in them when possible. Here are two Quichua healers (father and son) in their healing room near the altar. The son gave me a limpieza (spiritual cleaning) much like the one Layla gets at the end of The Indigo Notebook.
I hope this gives you a taste of the Ecuadorian Andes… and a taste of The Indigo Notebook.
Thanks for reading! You can read more about The Indigo Notebook at http://www.lauraresau.com . It's been a joy being your guest, Morgan!
Wow, that was really que pleno [cool] to see how Laura's trip to Ecuador intertwined with Zetta and The Indigo Notebook. Thanks for sharing with us, Laura!