Memories in Agato
As we are reaching the final weeks of our journey through South America, I have spent a lot of time reflecting on our experiences and the adventures that we have accomplished. From hiking into the mountains of Machu Piccu, to rappelling down waterfalls in the Amazon jungle, we have all helped each other grow in numerous ways. The laughs, memories, and friendships that have formed within the group and with the locals, I will hold close to my heart forever.
One of the most amazing opportunities that we have had thus far was staying in Agato, a small indigenous community in Otavalo, Ecuador. As we stayed in our home stays for two weeks, we learned about their values for the earth, community, and life. We volunteered with the community to help improve their environment by planting over one hundred trees and creating a wall entirely made of natural materials.
My favorite part of this immersive opportunity was the very last day. We had the chance to cook for our families as they have been cooking every meal for us the past two weeks. As a group, we went into town and purchased fresh ingredients to make homemade pizza for our families. We decided to bring a favorite American dish to Agato! Kneading the dough, cutting vegetables, and stirring fresh red sauce was such an incredible bonding experience for the group.
Throughout the night, we were dressed in traditional Kichwa outfits that our families provided. The families also cooked for us and they prepared the traditional South American dish of “cuy”, better known as guinea pig. We all gave it a try and it definitely had an interesting taste. The evening concluded with traditional dancing, music, and much more. It was an experience unlike anything else and I know for a fact that I will never forget it. Agato holds a special place in my heart with values and lessons that I will carry into my everyday life.