Half-Way to Revelation [part 1]
by Cherie Ann Turpin
(30 Stories in 30 Days)
Ella wore a white dress and tan Birkenstocks sandals on the tourist bus going to La Mitad del Mundo from Hilton Hotel in downtown Quito. One of her colleagues traveling with her from University of Hartford, an older professor from the Spanish department with smooth black skin and a halo-like afro, sat in the aisle seat next to Ella. She split one of the rolls she carried from the continental breakfast spread in the dining room with Ella, who nodded in silent thanks while taking a puff from her asthma inhaler. She bit into the crispy bread, and quickly swallowed a mouthful of bottled water as she glanced out of the window from her seat.
After 48 hours, she still struggled to adjust to the elevated city’s altitude. At nearly 10,000 feet, tourists who came to Quito were advised to rest for 24 hours and drink water to prevent altitude sickness. For Ella, who was an asthmatic, it took her nearly two days to adjust after a somewhat unnerving and bizarre landing at Mariscal Sucre, Quito’s treacherous airport. Physically and visually, Quito was one of Ella’s oddest academic conference travel experiences. She noted the signs of poverty on the outskirts of the city as the tour bus sped from downtown Quito, from the cooking fires in front of storefronts to the squatters gathered near shabby concrete building frames in open, barren fields.
Tourist trinket huts and restaurants lined the edge of Equatorial Monument, otherwise known as La Mitad del Mundo. Ella wandered from the main group and took the main path leading to the imposing andesite-covered tower. She paused at the grayish-brown steps to look up, only to stumble backwards, feeling dizzy and momentarily blinded by sunlight that had broken through thick, gray clouds. Attempting a discreet recovery, she grabbed the rails to balance herself and found herself face-to-face with a small brown woman with knee-length black hair who gently grabbed her elbow and helped her to stable her balance.
“Muchas Gracias, Senora,” rasped Ella, who quickly recovered from her spell and smiled.
“De nada,” The woman continued to respond in English with a returned smile. “You should be more careful looking up at the sun like that, Senora Ella. We live close to the sun here.”
Ella blinked rapidly, and looked into the warm, friendly face of the petite woman who had helped her. She looked strangely familiar. Was she part of the conference group? Ella did not remember her. The woman’s skin seemed to glow with a golden undertone. A name seemed to float through her ears with the mild wind that swirled around the two women: Pachamama. The woman nodded, and held out her hand to Ella, who was mesmerized momentarily by the Goddess in front of her.
“I have many names, my daughter,” spoke Pachamama, whose voice seemed to echo throughout the summit. “We are part of you, and you are part of us. Your journey here is a turning point for the trajectory of this lifetime for you. When you return to your English land, you will carry a part of me with you. I am Mother to all of you who feed my children. Come, walk with me, daughter. We have much to discuss.”
Pachamama raised her hand, casting sunlight around the two women, and they disappeared through the bright light.
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