A round of orienting in the universe: the Inca cross
As you know (or not, but now you do ;P), Ecuador has been part of the Inca empire. Still today there are many things that remind one of old times: the population still speaks Quichua (impossible to understand, it doesn't sound like Spanish at all!) and there's an "alternative" way of practicing medicine that comes from the Inca's, and you still see symbols in everyday life. An example is the Inca-cross: a symbol that is said to serve for orientation in the universe as the Inca's knew it.
The four arms represent the four provinces from the empire, and for the Southern cross, a constellation that was (and still is) used for navigation at sea (just like "our" Northern star)
But the cross also represents less earthly things. There are a few different theories about that, and nobody's totally sure, but there was a description that I found very interesting: the four arms should stand for four phases of life, and the steps between them for the tranformations.
* South (bottom): new beginning, start of grow process
* West (left): the dark, self exploration
* North: wisdom, life that serves
* East (right): spirituality, death and new birth
Besides, there are three levels that are connected to each other.
* middle: earth = jaguar
* above: heaven / the divine = condor
* below: the underworld = snake
And in the middle where everything comes together, there would be the portal to the heart, in which you could see that we're all part of something bigger that ourselves, and that everything is connected that way. "We're all children of the stars".
I don't know how well substained this is both historically / scientifically (read: most probably not at all!) or that someone in a little attic room has just made this up... but I though this could summarize the learning processes that a slow travellling volunteer goes through, as little "cirles of life": with a start, a disovery period with a touch of darkness, until you've reached "wisdom" and you can serve others with what you've learned, and then the "enlightment", the end of the process and the start of something new.
I've tried to catch all that in this drawing: