Colville students celebrate summer solstice, Amazon-style

Roger Harnack

Colville students visiting the historic city of Quito today celebrated the summer solstice, Amazon-style.
For several hours, the students in Colville Interact received an in-depth, personal tour of Mindalae Museo to learn about the native cultures of Ecuador.
The program included information on the tribes that inhabited the country from the Amazon to the Pacific Ocean. A guide discussed the difference in clothing styles -- which can still be seen today -- instruments, plants they used and the role a shaman played in ancient life.
Following an hour-long presentation, students were ushered to the first floor of the three story museum where they witnessed this year's summer solstice celebration.
The celebration room included a star-shaped corn pattern on the floor, a small fire, fruits and vegetables.
Chaperones and students were greeted by a shaman from Ecuador's rainforest region of the Amazon east of the Andes Mountains. They were blessed by the shaman who used a smokey incense. An assistant also brushed them with palm fronds for good health, good luck and good life.
After the blessing, they were invited to sit on the rim of a sacred circle as tribal musicians entered the room playing traditional instruments.
The shaman lit the fire as music played. Students were given a small token to put in the fire and ask Mother Earth for help in solving issues as the summer solstice marked the rebuilding of life.
A few students also shared their desires for the new year and thanks with the shaman.
As the celebration came to an end in the smokey room, students were asked to dance. And dance they did.
Following the program, students dined on traditional Ecuadorian cuisine for lunch, then walked about a half-mile through the city to the street market.
There, students found a variety of items, including traditional attire, blankets, scarves, replicas of artifacts, T-shirts and much more.
But the items of preference seemed to be watches and sunglasses.
Tonight, Interact members are on their own and having dinner with hosts throughout the cities of Quito and Cumbaya.
Tomorrow, students will head to the equator, where they will be able to stand in both the northern and southern hemispheres simultaneously, eat Guinea pig and be as close to the sun as humanly possibly while remaining on the ground.
Check back daily for updates on the Colville Interact students and chaperones as they make their way across Ecuador and conclude next week in the Galapagos Islands.