LOJA, Ecuador – Communal tourism as practiced by several Indian groups in Ecuador offers foreigner visitors a chance to experience a simple life in touch with nature along with millennial wisdom about the Sun’s cosmic energy.
Saraguro, a village in the southern Andean province of Loja, is an example of how daily life can appeal to tourists seeking to harmonize with Nature’s elements.
Located in a small valley, Saraguro is home to the Indian community of the same name and an enterprising spirit that saw in tourism a chance to showcase for the world the natural and cultural treasures of the area.
Visitors, and particularly foreigners, may spend weeks lodged in specially furnished rooms at residents’ homes, or if they so choose they can share in their hosts’ daily lives.
Communal tourism offers visitors a chance to till the land in the region and cultivate crops, trek through the forest, learn crafts and reach the Saraguro Indians’ sacred waterfalls.
With a temperate climate most of the year, the 30,000-strong Saraguro community also provides a varied cuisine combining flavors, tastes and the quality of 100 percent organic produce.
Maria Juana Cartucho, a leader of the Saraguro Communal Tourism Association, says that a human connection with the Sun’s cosmic energy is best achieved during the Summer solstice on June 21 and the Winter solstice on Dec. 21.
Those are the Raimy festival days for Andean peoples, marking the start of the harvest and sowing seasons, a time for communion with “Pacha mama,” or Mother Earth in the Quechua language.
On the winter solstice, Saraguro celebrates the Capac Raimy, an occasion when communities elect their new leaders.
A dash and bath under the chilly, sacred Saraguro waterfalls and a Shamanic “cleansing” intensify the leaders’ connection with the Andean cosmic vision and allow the visitor to find a connection with the community, Cartucho said.