During our ecotourism adventure in Ecuador, my family found ourselves in the highlands of the Andes, along the slopes of the now dormant Cotacachi Volcano. This area around Otavalo, Ecuador is dotted with adobe villages with large indigenous populations, where the Kichwa language and traditional dress are widespread. Oven-baked adobe bricks, elders carrying firewood through the countryside barefoot and large family gardens abound.
In recent decades, however, many people have left the area to seek educational and employment opportunities — resulting in greater wealth but also a loss in cultural heritage. Use of the Kichwa language is in decline, as many young people do not learn the language.
Runa Tupari is a community-based tourism agency with a vision for creating economic opportunities in these rural indigenous communities, while celebrating the local indigenous cultures in a respectful cultural exchange. The organization is creating economic opportunities in the community that help affirm this sustainable way of life, where homegrown native foods, community bonds that span generations and a vibrant culture can thrive.Click to continue reading »