Our last stop on our tour of Ecuador was in Cuenca. It supposedly has a rivalry with Quito for most beautiful colonial city. The historic center certainly does have it’s share of old buildings and plenty of churches.
During lunch one day, the owner of the restaurant we were at asked us if we wanted to look at one of his “programs”. It consisted of a tour of the Chilcatotora community. He showed us pictures of the mountain side and food. All he had to say was food. A couple days later we headed out to the community consisting of some elders who still speak Quechua and wear traditional clothing of the Otovalans.
Our tour guide took us to an “antique house” where he told us about how it had been built with mud and hay. He continued to show us more about their way of life as the ladies prepared traditional meals for us. In the kitchen, which was essentially a shack, was an area where the ladies burned wood and cooked our breakfast and lunch. It was delicious! Breakfast was corn and eggs with aqua aromatica spiced up with sugar cane liqueur. Lunch was a bigger affair. Check out the spread!
We all sat at the table with our wooden spoons and scooped up whatever we wanted to eat. Lunch consisted of rice, potatoes, corn, mixed vegetables and cuy. What’s cuy you say? This animal is named after the noise it makes when it’s scared. I hate to say it but guinea pig tastes like chicken. :)
After lunch, we toured the community where we handed out bread and pop to those out working. On Saturdays, the people work on community projects. That day they were clearing trees, painting the church and putting finishing touches on the building where they would host a big Christmas dinner. They were appreciative of the snack and curious about us and where we were from.
Other parts of the day included touring the building where they make cheese, listening to locals sing songs and play instruments and walking through a garden and learning from the “medicine woman” about what plants cure common ailments. They were very proud of their community and enjoyed sharing it with us. They even taught us how to count in Quechua! We only got to 7. :)
You can see more pictures of Cuenca and Chilcatotora here: Cuenca.
Kushiwairi, Tour of Chilcatotora community
Cost: $32 per person
Includes 7 hour tour, transportation, 2 meals, a snack and many shots of sugar cane liqueur :)
Contact: Efain ([email protected]) You can find him at his restaurant located at the corner of General Torres and Mariscal Sucre in Cuenca