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Meet the Abraham Lincoln of Ecuador

Article Summary:

The United States has Abraham Lincoln and Ecuador has General Jose Eloy Alfaro, a man of short stature who, despite his size, revolutionized his country at the end of the 19th century. Alfaro City, located off the sleepy, artisan town of Manta, is home to the Museum of Revolutionaries which chronicles the work of Alfaro and his government. Entrance is free, and provides a unique opportunity to lose yourself in the history of Ecuador.

Photo Credit: World Winder

Original Article Text From World Winder:

A Boutique Museum Outside of Manta Ecuador

The United States has Abraham Lincoln and Ecuador has General Jose Eloy Alfaro. Like Napoleon, he was a man of small stature, who revolutionized his country at the end of the 19th century. Serving first in the army then as president for five years Alfaro abolished slavery, constructed railroads, and spearheaded universal education for girls. Most people will only recognize Alfaro by the streets named after him in Quito, Otavalo, Guayaquil, and Manta. But Alfaro was a man with foresight who dreamed great things for Ecuador—a characteristic that brought him massive popularity and a brutal death.

On Ecuador’s Pacific Coast, the Ruta del Sol runs through the country’s best resort towns, sleepiest fishing villages, and large government protected bio-reserves. Just forty-five minutes outside of Manta, the artisan town of Monetcristi sits in a valley and is the birthplace of Jose Eloy Alfaro. In the dry breeze and hot sun, the townspeople craft the iconic Montecristi Hat from paja de toquilla. In the town square or at the bus terminal, the easiest way up to Alfaro City is by taxi, (US$1). At the top of the mountain, take advantage of unparalleled views over Montecristi, shop in the handicraft village, and wander through the Revolutionary Museum. Admission is free so take your time. For an artistic and emotionally laden moment, enter Alfaro’s mausoleum.

The Golden Corridor of Alfaro City
Outside the mausoleum, white arches rise out of concrete like sunrays surrounding the small building. Enter through a long corridor, shaped like a tunnel. Checkered flooring and golden light create a majestic portal back in time. It feels like you are stepping into Alfaro’s life. His words, taken from a letter to his wife, scroll along the long hallway and lead into a small rotunda. Light pours in from above and as you enter, Alfaro’s bronze-cast face gazes down on you. His eyes are somber, his face weather worn. No matter who you are, this monument will dwarf your existence.

Murals, mosaics, and artifacts commemorate Alfaro’s work. Inside the vault, bronze reliefs illustrate slaves sitting at the harbor with their backs scarred from whips, indigenous people clearing fields, and train tracks running almost off the wall. In a central column, a flexed fist represents Ecuador’s struggle to better itself and beside it, Alfaro’s ashes are entombed. Along the periphery, small stone chairs loop a semi-circle around the space, signifying an advisory council similar to ones used by the Incas. On the far side, Alfaro’s actual chair sits behind a velvet rope as if one day he may return.

The power and influence of Alfaro over Ecuador is unmistakable. Alfaro City testifies to that. Beside the mausoleum, the Museum of Revolutionaries chronicles the work of Alfaro and his government. Visitors will not be disappointed although they should be prepared for graphic illustrations of President Alfaro’s death. Kidnapped by conservative rivals, the president was tied to horses by his feet and dragged through Quito and into El Ejido Park where he was beheaded and burned at the stake. Though at the time considered an enemy of the state, Alfaro survives today as a national hero of Ecuador.

Link to Original Article:

From World Winder

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