This week, the group has been adjusting to and getting to know our homestay families in the Agato Community in Otavalo, Ecuador. Five families welcomed 3-4 of us into each of their homes, and we’ve spent each morning doing volunteer work in the community. Some of the projects have included cleaning up community spaces such as parks and soccer fields, regenerative gardening, and moving debris. We’ve also gotten to experience Kichwa Spring Equinox traditions.
On Sunday we hiked to Sacred Rock, where we circled up and listened to one of the members of the Agato Community, Rumi, express prayers in his native language, Kichwa. The ceremony is performed to welcome Spring and to connect with the mountains and the Earth. Rumi, after performing the ceremony, passed the feathers of a condor and an eagle around the circle, so that we could individually mediate and express our gratitude for life.
Aside from volunteer work and group traditions, each group’s experience with our homestay families has been incredibly unique. Ayden, Aidan and Balthi have been learning to sing Kichwa music. Balthi also really enjoyed venturing to the local market where he bought a hammock! Ginny and Mollie have been practicing embroidery and jewelry-making; they both have made beautiful pieces and shown great progress! Elle, Sydney, and Nyah are learning about native medicinal plants and the Kichwa culture with their host family. Kara and Sahaja are learning to play the flute, and Brandon, Luke, and Jason are learning a traditional Kichwan dance! Overall, this stay in the Agato community has given us an appreciation for different ways of living. Each family has their own values and traditions that they’ve shared with us. For example, Nyah, Elle, and Sydney’s family has shared their passion for the environment and the many ways that they practice sustainability.
We will be sad to leave this place in just a few days, but we are excited to move on to our next adventures!