Llaqtakunaq atipayninwan, teqrimuyuta kuyuchisunchis – “When the villages work together, we will turn this world around.” (Quechuan Proverb)
During our current travel adventure, I’ve relished the privilege of observing some authentic cultural patterns manifested by the indigenous peoples of Ecuador. Representing over one quarter of the entire population of Ecuador today, many of these native inhabitants proudly trace their origin back to the days when the Inca Indian civilization thrived in the land that later came to be called Ecuador many centuries ago.
So you might ask what particularly intrigues me about one particular group, Ecuador’s Quechuan tribe, who are considered the country’s largest indigenous group out of fourteen native ancestral peoples in Ecuador. Perhaps it’s the humble aura I strongly felt during my personal encounters with those hard working Quichuan merchants as they patiently sold their wares at local shopping stands around the city of Cuenca. Or such praiseworthy observations might have been triggered by an innocent smile radiating from a Quechuan child when I said “hola” to them directly during our recent visit to the sacred Inca ruins at Pilaloma. During such face to face encounters with them, I also developed a high level of interest in the Quechuan dialect as many of these Inca descendants I listened to, chose to use their native spoken language in spite of Spanish and English predominance in Ecuador society today.
I also felt fortunate to obtain a healthy sample of the present day indigenous experience during our scheduled stop at the Quechuan Community Interpretative Center on our Ecuador tour. On one occasion, I captively watched a young indigenous woman mash sweet potato and yucca roots inside a homemade gourd that ferments over a short time into a potent alcoholic brew. I also took considerable interest in watching her tediously string narrow slices of tropical leaves into fine cords used for practical Quechuan tasks like fishing and weaving .
On a sadder note, the Quechuan people are now seriously embroiled in a long-standing feud with the Ecuadorean government for equal access to education, health care and improved road access to their community homelands. Thus, giving due consideration to the strong desire of Quechuans to keep their cultural traditions alive amidst such governmental turmoil, I challenge those who read my blog to contribute to the indigenous cause in Ecuador in any way you can.
Two excellent outlets to do that would be to contact Wichana Foundation: Ecuador Charity and choose a topic of interest at (www.wichana.org) or inquire about volunteer projects to more directly serve the indigenous population of Ecuador at (www.volunteermatch.org). For by showing our gratitude for all people- near or far – humanity moves one step closer to unity’s attainment in our divided world today. Enjoy the photos.
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