Cuenca 2020 Cuenca, Ecuador MSMU Travels

#HolyThursday Leading to the Holy Thursday

Good afternoon! My name is Tyler Bussard, and I am a sophomore at the Mount. My majors are Forensic Accounting, Economics, and Accounting. I am also pursuing minors in Spanish and Theology. With all the different study abroad programs the Mount offers, I’m sure somebody is wondering, “Why Ecuador?” I chose Ecuador because of Dr. Rodriguez-Lozano’s (or, “Doctora,” as she’s more commonly known around campus) legacy of providing Mount students with trips that balance cultural immersion with fun experiences. 

We’ve only been here in Ecuador for 11 days, but it feels like a month with all the sights and new experiences. For example, in our first three days in the country, we toured the capital city of Quito, traveled to “La Mitad del Mundo” (the Equator), visited the Madonna towering above the city, climbed the towers at the Basilica del Voto Nacional (Basilica of the National Vow), and so much more. We left Quito for a long journey through the Andes to arrive at a port on the Napo River, where we sailed in typical Amazonian canoes to get to our resort for the next few days, La Casa del Suizo. It’s hard to believe we are actually in these places because they are so far away from Mary’s Mountain.

Since I’m also pursuing minors in Spanish and Theology, I thought it would be nice to focus on those instead of balance sheets and cost curves. The opportunity to write this blog will allow me to reflect more on my minors while sharing my experiences with you. The theme for my blog is going to be #HolyThursday for two reasons. I must thank Dr. McCarthy for his input on coming up with this idea. I knew I wanted to base my posts around the religious practices of Ecuador because they are a unique combination of Catholicism and the indigenous religions. The other reason for my theme is that over the semester, the posts will build until the actual Holy Thursday, which will be my last post from abroad.

Now, let me elaborate a little more on the synthesis of the two religions I mentioned earlier. Part of our assignments to prepare for our arrival in Ecuador was a reading on the Tigua art; however, the reading also explained much more about the indigenous culture we are going to encounter over our time in Ecuador. One example of the integration is between the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi and the Incan festival of Inti Raymi. Because both celebrations are held around the same time of the year, the Spanish Catholics allowed the two festivals to merge in order to gain a sense of legitimacy among the Incans. Corpus Christi is the celebration of the Eucharist – the literal body and blood of Christ – and Inti Raymi celebrates the sun god, Inti. The article explains that the festivals were easily combined because they had many of the same traditions (dancing, costumes, and masks) and occurred during the same part of the year. This is just one example of how Ecuadorian Catholicism differs from that of the United States. 

I hope you enjoyed this introduction! Please come back next #HolyThursday for another update about Ingapirca, the largest Incan ruins in Ecuador, built as a temple to the Sun God. Also, check out @msmutravels for my first Instagram post!

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