WKU is celebrating the International Year of Ecuador during the 2014-2015 academic year. All types of events including film presentations, lectures, exhibits, and foodways demonstrations have been planned across campus. Interestingly in researching for an exhibit titled “Ecuador in Library Special Collections” at the Kentucky Building, curators found several letters written by the U.S. consul to Ecuador and his wife, Edward Rumsey Wing and Louise (Green) Wing. They both write back to her Kentucky parents telling them about their exciting adventures, longing for home, intellectual pursuits, family affairs, and adjustment to a new culture. Wing served in Quito from 1870 to 1874.
In a June 1870 letter Louise writes her parents back in Grayson County, Kentucky, about an experience traveling through the Ecuadorian mountains.
Imagine me in a mask, goggles, veil, man’s hat, green yarn gloves, the thickest of clothing, trotting on a mule past a snow clad mountain—grand, threatening, and awe inspiring. I thought I should never see the last of it, and I pray that I may never behold it again while I live. By the by I was taken for the Devil in the costume by a little crosseyed Indian girl who insisted I was le diablo. Our eyes & faces are still afflicted from the sands & wind. Rumsey looked as if he had been on a royal spree for [the] last forty years and I am not quite a beauty myself.
Toward the end of the letter, Louise summarizes her feelings about the mountain trip:
Language fails me when I attempt to tell you what I have endured and seen in this delectable Republic of Ecuador. I do not wish to recall it. Indeed I should like to blot the whole journey thus far, until all of its extentuating and beautiful surroundings, entirely from my memory. Much to my amazement I reached this spot alive, and today am almost myself— again, though stiff & burnt to a crisp.
To search for other letters and diaries written from distant lands search our finding aids in TopSCHOLAR.