Monday, August 25, 2008


Our adventure in Ecuador is coming to an end. We arrived in Quito early this morning after visiting many other places around the country. Tomorrow we fly home.

Unfortunately for the people back home, we have been unable to post photographs during most of our trip. Many places still lack basic services like electric lights or potable water. Internet connections are even more rare still. Hopefully, we will post more pictures today from Casa Sol Quito, or tomorrow from our hotel in Los Angeles.

Just to summarize briefly, we got to see many culturally significant places during our tour.

With Valentina as our guide, we took a five hour bus ride to Archidona, in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Amazon is more beautiful and ecologically diverse than I ever imagined. We got acquainted with plants of all different kinds, many of them edible and even medicinal. We also visited the home of Casimiro Mamallacta, an indigenous shaman from the area. More on this later.

After visiting the jungle, we took a five hour bus ride back to Tumbaco, where we rested in the home of Valentina.

The following day, we continued to Otavalo, stopping to visit Edwin and Alex on the way. They were two of the youth who visited Spokane during this last spring. Their families received us with such grace, kindness, and abundance. Each family gave us a complete multi-course dinner, followed by laughter and friendship. The family of Alex even got us dressed up in traditional clothing from the region and took us out into the street to dance. Again, more on this later.

In Otavalo, we stayed at Casa Sol, which is even more magnificent than Casa Sol Quito. Photographs cannot convey the warmth and personality of that place.

We visited the traditional market in Otavalo, and had lunch with the family of Cesar Alvear. There we got to visit more youth from the Spokane exchange program: Flor, Victor, Santiago, Mariela, Maria Fernanda, and Markos de la Cruz. Once again, we enjoyed an over abundance of hospitality and friendship.

In the evening, we had a community meeting at Casa Sol Otavalo, where we got to share cultural expereinces with various leaders in the community. Afterwards, Marcos Lema, Oscar, and I bathed in the river below the sacred waterfall at Peguche as part of a ceremony.

On Sunday, we attended the LDS Church in Otavalo, and later visited the family of Santiago. They took us on a driving tour of the Ibarra region.

From there, we returned early this morning to Quito. I will post more as we are able to download the photographs.

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