As most of you probably know, I live in Ecuador. The ancient language of the indigenous here is Quechua, pronounced Key ch wah. I'm really charmed by the language which influences the Spanish here and works its way into most everything...as it should.
In the Quechua language, the sun is referred to as Papa Inti, the moon is Mama Killa, the earth is Pachamama, and the ocean is Mama Kucha. Last month I spent 19 days on the shore of Ecuador's Pacific coast. Having not been to the beach in 31 years, I fell totally and madly in love with Mama Kucha. And I think she liked me too. I had some amazing medicine from her, she sent me 31 years worth of Christmas and birthday gifts.
This is a post about how Mama Kucha showed me her love. From the very first day, I found amazing treasures walking on the beach. The first day I found this amazing sand dollar, the first one I've ever found in my life. I later found two more. Among beautiful shells, rocks, crystals and feathers, all washed up on the sand. Left for me to pick up, photograph, or just marvel over.
I was traveling by bus and though my hostess told me to bring another suitcase for shells and rocks, I just couldn't imagine I would need it. I mean I've never picked up more than a ziploc full of shells. But I had never been to an Ecuadorian beach. And from that first day, I kept finding shells and rocks that were heart shaped. At first, I thought, "how cute."
And as the days went by, when I would see a heart laying in the sand, I found myself smiling, and offering a "Thank you," to Mama Kucha. Sometimes the thanks was offered silently as a prayer, other days, I looked to the horizon and offered it aloud. I had a distinct feeling of warmth and that I was wrapped in something purely holy.
It started me wondering, wait a minute. How did it come to be, that the heart shape signifies love? I mean, it's one of those things that's universal, recognized the world over. So how did it happen. How did the Ocean know to wear away rocks into the shape of a heart, and to place them on a beach. Whether she was truly sending them to me as love from her, or placed them there for honeymooning lovers to pick up as a momento, it was something that sent this writer and researcher to Google.
Here's what I learned. No one really knows for sure. There is pottery dating back to 3000BC in a heart shape. There are theories that it's the shape of the seed of a plant that was used as birth control, but my favorite is that it's what resulted when people tried to draw from the written words of Aristotle when he wrote his description of the human heart. That was enough to satisfy my curiosity as to where the shape came from, but how did it come to symbolize love?
Of course, "back in the day" as young people like to say, the heart was considered the center of all emotion. In fact, at one time they believed the brain had no purpose at all. So, now I have an answer to how the heart shape came to be, and how it came to symbolize love. But who told the ocean? She's mighty smart to not have a brain.
Yes, Mama Kuchu, I love you too. I showed my love by carrying a garbage bag with me each day on my walks and picking up trash. It's so sad, so many people, think she is an acceptable dumping ground.
If you would like to see more pictures from my trip on the coast, whale watching, the gentleman who emerged from the surf walking toward me and my birthday party weekend with 8 of my favorite people follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I'm still uploading the pics, it's not a fast process. And if you ever get the chance to visit an Ecuadorian beach...bring an extra suitcase.
Loving life in Cuenca!