An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace

An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
Giant Land Tortoises

Back in October 2017, Alfred and I went on the adventure of a lifetime in Ecuador during the Nomadic Boys gay Galapagos cruise which we’ll never forget. The major highlight of the trip was seeing all the incredible wildlife and geological features of the Galapagos Islands as we toured them aboard the 159-foot luxury yacht now known as WildAid’s Passion. However, after the tour we flew back to Quito and made our way to a town called Otavalo where we explored Ecuadorian culture, connected with nature, and took a bit of a break from all the intense adventure while we stayed at My SachaJi ecolodge.

Ecuadorian Culture in the Perfect Setting

My SachaJi means “My Beloved Mountain” and it is aptly named as it sits on Cusín Volcano, Ecuador’s oldest dormant volcano, surrounded by lush gardens and an organic orchard. The views from the ecolodge are second to none as I found inspiration sitting in the common gathering area of the lodge gazing out on Lago Cuicocha (Cuicocha Lake) and Cotacachi Volcano while rain clouds rolled in one evening. Nearby is the town of Otavalo where we explored traditional weaving, leather workshops, and an indigenous market selling artisanal products as well as cultural foods.

An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
The View from My SachaJi
Self-Discovery 

The ecolodge offers many different activities and services to increase relaxation, improve mental strength, and make us learn a little something about ourselves. In fact, My SachaJi states on their website it is their goal “to help guest gain a clearer sense of self and a more perceptive understanding of their life’s purpose.” Basically, guest should leave relaxed and perhaps gain new knowledge. Some of the activities they offer to assist guest with this endeavor are yoga, healing therapies, massages, meditation, tea ceremonies, and good old bonfire time. They also offer a number of experiences to connect guests with nature and the local Ecuadorian culture.

*Explore Cuenca for some authentic Ecuadorian culture in a small town atmosphere!

Andean & Ecuadorian Culture Experience

When I realized I could experience a traditional Andean cleansing, I quickly jumped on it. I absolutely adore cultural experiences like this and I do give credence to certain energy (or power or whatever) influencing our lives. Paramount to my decision, was that I would really experience an important part of indigenous Andean beliefs. For one brief moment I gained the ability to immerse myself in their culture and I certainly was not missing out on it. Luckily, I convinced Alfred (my husband) and my friend Sebastien (of the Nomadic Boys) to do the cleansing with me.

An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
Jose Cotocachi Weaving

Late in the evening, we walked through the orchard to a spot framed by Cotacachi volcano and the lush foliage of the fruit trees to meet Mama Rosa, a traditional medicinal plant expert from the nearby village of Angla. Since I was the only native Spanish speaker in our small group, I interpreted everything Mama Rosa said all while the temperature dropped a bit and clouds rolled in overhead. She explained the circular pavilion where we stood was cleansed and blessed and asked us to remove our shoes before entering. Once we removed our shoes we stood in a line and she began the ritual.

The Ritual

The first thing she did was ask us if we were here for the cleansing and if we would open our hearts and minds to unblocking any negative energy. Each of us had to answer affirmatively. Then she poured a floral liquid into our hands and asked us to rub it across our bodies making sure to cover our arms, necks, and legs. Don’t worry…we kept our clothes on and rubbed it across our clothing. She then rubbed some onto our heads and cheeks. Next, the same thing happened again but this time with an herbal liquid. After she finished these steps she placed a bundle of herbs at our feet and used the herbs to gently whip our bodies vigorously, one-by-one, while saying a prayer in a mixture of Quechua and Spanish. She chanted so rapidly I couldn’t understand much of what she was saying. But as she chanted she swept the herbs down our bodies and forcefully slammed them into the ground while saying “Pachamama.

An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
Natural Substances

At this point, she paused asking if we had any questions and explaining what just occurred. Mama Rose stated the herbs and flowers came from Mother Earth just as all things do. The flowers and herbs are good and help to wipe away negative energy back into the ground from whence it comes. She also explained it was especially important to make sure our right hands were taken care of because that is where negative energy enters the body. After this, she handed each of us a Palo Santo stick,  a type of incense wood that grows in Ecuador. She lit all the herbs she’d used on fire and blew the smoke on us instructing us to use the smoke to bathe. Then she lit our sticks as we held them observing the smoke. Interestingly enough she realized we were all friends but knew that Alfred and I were more than just friends based on how the smoke from our burning sticks interacted. She also somehow knew that Alfred and Sebastien were having an ear problem (and I’m not really sure how she knew that). Of course, there were a few more things she said but I am keeping those to myself. Suffice it to say, it was a really mystical experience and I’m glad I did it.

Andean Culture at a Personal Level
An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
Purchasing Local Art

After the ritual was complete, she offered us bracelets made from red seeds to go on our right arms and protect us from negative energy. Luckily, she was in a talkative mood and introduced us to her husband and two sons who were also present. Mama Rosa explained to us that not many Andean Healers are left and the younger generations typically have no interest in learning the traditional ways as they move to big cities such as Quito. Her sons were there to watch and learn which I thought was really cool. She also told us the knowledge of traditional cleansing and medicine was passed through generations of her family for as far back as anyone could remember. Not only did we have an Ecuadorian culture experience, we were part of an ancient tradition at that moment.

Why it Matters

Experiences like this help me feel more connected to the local culture. They afford me the opportunity to try to see things through a new lens and even temporarily walk in another person’s shoes…though I wholeheartedly admit that I can never claim to fully grasp any culture I encounter as I am not part of that culture. But I can try! When I travel, I want to experience the sights and sounds of a place. But I also want to understand the people who call these amazing places home. Cultural experiences often involve things that might make us feel a little uncomfortable but the discomfort is usually due to our stepping outside of the box. Once we get use to the feeling of no walls, then we realize our minds are opening and we become a little more ingrained with our global human culture.

An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life
Drinking Chicha

Want to take a train across Ecuador, check out my adventures here! 

Looking for more tips for traveling through Ecuador?


What are some of your favorite cultural experiences from your travels?

J Harvey

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An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace - Read More- My Normal Gay Life

J. Harvey

J Harvey is a travel writer based in North Carolina. With two masters degrees, he decided to forget working a normal 9-5 job and instead create a travel blog focusing on travel for a more inclusive community. He hopes to increase LGBT representation within the travel industry while inspiring others to travel in whatever capacity.

mynormalgaylifegmail-com has 103 posts and counting.See all posts by mynormalgaylifegmail-com

18 thoughts on “An Ecuadorian Culture Cleansing Ritual Will Make You Feel At Peace

  • November 22, 2017 at 3:13 am
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    I do love having travel experiences that connect me to the culture of the place I am visiting…whether it be sharing a simple meal at the table of a local or participating in cultural dancing or singing, etc. There is so much to learn from all of our global neighbors, and we all have much to share!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm
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      Absolutely true! Eating dinner with locals is one of the best ways to understand a different perspective! Food brings us together!

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  • November 21, 2017 at 10:27 pm
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    The cleansing ritual is really fascinating. I love the objective of the hotel to ensure that one is in harmony with nature. Nature is something that’s akin to God for us and the best moments of life are always spent in the lap of nature.But a great way to get an immersive experience of a place and its culture and interact with the locals.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:46 pm
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      Indeed it is! Nature always brings me quite a bit of peace. I highly encourage you to take part in a ceremony such as this sometime!

      Reply
  • November 21, 2017 at 4:41 pm
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    We too experience and get soaked in the real culture of the place, we travel to. Ritual cleansing sounds interesting and I wonder how that women got to know so much. It is great that she is teaching her boys the Andrean Experience to continue the legacy.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 3:50 pm
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      I was so surprised that the shaman knew as much as she did. It was a bit unnerving, to be honest, but definitely an incredible experience.

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  • November 21, 2017 at 1:31 am
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    I wondered how you stayed so positive, you had your negative energy cleansed. I could have used that about a month ago!

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  • November 20, 2017 at 4:40 am
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    The cleansing sounds wonderful! I have done something similar in Mexico, temescal, only it is in a hotter than Hades shelter. So nice to experience the local culture and customs.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:08 pm
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      Oh, I’ve never heard of that ceremony. I’ll have to look it up! Hot does not sound so fun. haha!

      Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 9:27 pm
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    Wow, what an intense experience. I totally agree that rituals like these are a most up-close-and-personal way to connect with a local culture. Sometimes I wonder how much of it is just show for tourists, though. Sounds like that wasn’t the case here – good!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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      Oh for sure! Fortunately, I believe in a lot of the indigenous rituals and such as part of my own belief system. So, I felt this was pretty legitimate. She didn’t seem to embellish it at all.

      Reply
  • November 19, 2017 at 9:23 pm
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    The Ritual cleansing sounds like an amazing experience. I do think we all rush too much through travel without taking time to connect. My motto for 2018 is going to be slow travel!

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:13 pm
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      Slow travel all the way! I love understanding the place, people, and cultures I have the honor of experiencing!

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  • November 19, 2017 at 2:55 pm
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    You hit the nail on the head. I love cultural experiences too but sometimes they take me right out of my comfort zone. I am not sure if I would have enjoyed this cleansing ritual. But then, you do need to challenge yourself to get to know other people and their culture to get a better understanding of the world around us. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:19 pm
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      I’m all about feeling uncomfortable when it comes to new experiences. The feeling means I’m doing something right…usually. And my mind is expanded as a result! I encourage you to push yourself sometimes!

      Reply
  • November 18, 2017 at 11:07 pm
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    I like what you said about the experience connecting you to the local culture. When we travel it’s so easy to rush through a place without really seeing it, so I’m glad you got to try this wellness ritual.

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    • November 22, 2017 at 4:15 pm
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      I try my best to have one genuine experience everywhere I travel. That ends up leading me to multiple genuine experiences!

      Reply

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