Understanding November 1986
PEOPLE TO PEOPLE
From October 6th through October 21st, Cleona and I were taking part in an event, hopefully intended by its planners and sponsors, to create a new pattern of procedure in the world’s search for means of achieving enduring peace between nations. First conceived by the American Indian Council of Houston, Texas, the basic plan was to begin with a meeting of members of the South American Indian tribes at a chosen spot exactly on the equator, which would be dedicated in perpetuity, to the cause of peace between all nations. The President of Ecuador and several other government officials were approached, all agreed that it seemed a good idea, that a plot of ground on the equator and next to the Equatorial Monument would be furnished and dedicated to international peace, also that the Ecuadorian government would furnish free food and lodging for the U.S. visitors for the 10 days of their stay in Ecuador. The Ecuatoriana Airlines Co-agreed to furnish free busses and drivers so that the visiting Americans could be taken to a number of towns and villages, so that they could learn at first hand, the culture and lifestyle of the Ecuadorian people.
Each following year, representative groups from other countries would be invited to come and join in peace ceremonies and mutual understanding. The project was given the name of, People To People, Heart To Heart.
Although the plan was developed by, and involved primarily the North American and the South American Indian tribes, Cleona and I were invited to participate by Mr. Max Washburn, Chairman Financial Committee, who felt that there should be as wide a representation from the U.S. as possible. The plan seemed to offer some interesting possibilities in the way of people to people meetings, and we decided to participate, although it did involve considerable expense for plane tickets, travel costs etc. The following is a brief account of the days during which the peoples of the north and the south did indeed give and receive from each other, simple understanding and friendship on a scale never before attempted in the history of human relationship.
October 6, Cleona and I left Alamogordo for El Paso by car, which we left with friends until our return. In El Paso we boarded Amtrak which took us to Houston, Texas, the gathering point of the group. On Oct. 10, the group of 23 flew to Miami, and from there to Quito, Ecuador, where we arrived at 3:45 P.M. Quito time. We were met by an eager group of newspaper and television camera men and reporters, all of whom wanted pictures and interviews in which we would tell all about our visit and its purpose, in ten additional words or less. Finally, Cleona was escorted to the Tambo Real hotel in Quito, while I was seated in a small car and was driven about the countryside, being introduced to several other men in various places, and finally, after midnight, being shown to the only bed I would see for the coming week. Oct. 11, Began the preplanned schedule of visiting and talking with local groups. The meeting was in Santo Domingo, but so many outsiders had come into town there was no place to sleep except on the floor of a building under construction, which we did. 29 people, 19 men and 10 women in the same room, all in bedrolls on the floor. There is no better way known to melt the stiffness of individual privacy and reserve. Before the last person was dressed in the morning, everyone was buddy-buddy with everyone else, and all had forgotten the hardness of their beds.
Oct. 12 was listed on the schedule as a ‘free’ day but instead a group of about 1,300 from the city and surroundings gathered in the park to meet the visitors so it was welcome and welcome, speach for speach, for several hours.
Oct. 13 To Colta (But not by 10:00 A.M. as per schedule.(It was nearer 4:00 P.M.) Welcome reception by Colts. (And what a reception it was!) More than 200 of them all wanting to shake hands and to talk with us. Assignment of Cholsas (Which meant that each visitor would be assigned a Cholsa, or grass but which had been constructed especially for the occasion. The inside dimension was about 3 feet by 7 feet made entirely of long grass and a few poles for support. They were fine unless it rained.) The weather, or medicine man, was kind enough to allow us two nights use of them before he brought the rain.
Oct. 14 This little pig stayed home in his little grass but while some went to Columbe, some went to Marco Bucay farm to gather fruit to be placed in baskets and hung in the center of our Cholsas huts. (This was another six hour drive over rough roads, which I did not need having experienced plenty of such hours in the previous days. Those who did go were so tired by the time they got there that they ate lunch, rested a while, and came back without having picked any fruit!) Perhaps it was just as well since I noticed that the ceiling, at least in my but was not nearly high enough to have hung a basket of fruit from anyway!
One of the Airline cars was going into Rio Bomba, and I did persuade the driver to take $25.00 of my U.S. Money and change it into 3,500 Sucres which was the going rate of exchange, and will buy about the same amount of goods.
Oct. 15, Colta – Cultural exchange – We were to play games – vollyball, softball etc., but there was a little too much rain for comfortable outdoor sports, and there was no indoor area large enough to contain them. A bon fire was finally started which was big enough and hot enough to dry out the rain from our clothes almost as fast as the rain was wetting them. Cleona arrived in Colta in the afternoon and persuaded a car driver to take us to Rio Bomba that evening, and into Quito the next day. (The whole crew was scheduled to move to Quito the next day anyway, and the grass huts were a little too wet for comfortable sleeping.)
Oct. 17, Cleona was to be taken on the special shopping market day with the rest of the group, but since she was taken in one of the airline cars, the inevitable occurred. The car was so busy running errands that there was no time for shopping and, since the driver insisted upon keeping the front window open through the entire day the constant windblast in Cleona’s face had its inevitable effect and the flu bug has still not been entirely banished from her system!
Oct. 18, The big day of the entire program. The dedication of the International Peace Site on the Equator line. The Program read
a) Pipe of peace ceremony with all Indian leaders, break arrow for peace, officiated by J. Elliot & Austin Two Moons. b) Plant tree. c) Song of unity, sung in English, Spanish & Pequche. d) Short messages by leaders. e) present City of Houston medallion to prefecto of Pinchincha. Present plaques to – prefecto of Chimborazo, Equatoriana Airlines. f) Move to dance square. 1) Hoop dance by Johnson Brothers – Kevin Locke. 2) Prepared for friendship / round dance. Just prior to dance, announce by show of hands, tribes represented 3) Friendship round dance start and end program, invite & include everyone who wishes to participate.
It was estimated that at least three hundred persons including the president of Ecuador and many other high officials attended the dedication ceremonies, which simply indicated that the event was taken seriously in Ecuador. (My speach was praised by several.)
The one criticism frequently heard was that authority to direct events was divided in several places and among several persons who were seldom in contact with each other, which resulted in some confusion. In any event it was a noble experiment, the ultimate value of which history can judge.
There are rumors that other countries are already planning to send delegates to the next meeting at the International Peace Center.
(signed) Daniel W. Fry