This is a special story of indigenous celebrations for you to enjoy and better understand the culture of Ecuador and Cotacachi.
Our sincere thanks to David Sasaki for the photographs that enhance these stories.
Please remember to continue your donations to Ecuador Project Hope through the link to our Paypal account at the end of this story. Thank you for your participation and donations that keep us caring for the elderly in need.
We are starting to plan our annual Christmas Party at Place of Hope for our poor elderly and those in need. Last year we had over 100 people for a hot meal. Our next update will be the first week of December, to keep you informed of our progress and plans for the future.
On November 3rd we were able to help another elderly woman that no longer has family wanting to take care of her. She is mute and living in a park and sleeping on a park bench – so sad. We have brought her food and hope we can find a place for her to stay this coming week that will be close to our kitchen so she can at least have one good meal. This is just one of the many stories I could share with you. One of our big goals is to have a small shelter for people in this position
We are grateful for your donations that enable us to help these people.
Pachamanca celebration was held at the private home of Milton Andramunio Izurieta along with his two brothers, Patricio and Jorge Andramunio. Their tour company, TransRabbit, operates out of Cotacachi and offers many trips throughout Ecuador. We highly recommend them, and they speak English.
This indigenous celebration was a thank you to all the people that have taken their tours. Approximately 80 people came to this celebration by invitation.
Pachamanca has been a part of South American culture for centuries, dating back to pre-historic times. The name comes from the Quechua language “Pacha”, earth, and “Manca” as cooking pot or “earth oven.” Widely used in times of the Incas, Pachmanca is very related to ritual. It is a celebration of fertility and life.
Cooking Pachamanca style is a rendering of homage to Pacha Mama (earth mother), together with Apu Inti (sun god). Food is returned to the earth to be cooked and after several hours, participants enjoy a banquet.
Pachamanca starts by digging a hole in the ground. Volcanic rocks are stacked like a pyramid and heated to a high temperature. The food is wrapped in foil or large bijao leaves that come from the river edges in the jungle. The process starts by placing the ingredients according to their cooking time and intermixed with the heated stones.
First come the potatoes, second layer is for marinated meats such as chicken, pork, lamb or guinea pig, followed by more heated stones and another layer of herbs. The last and final layer is for corn, sweet cheese humitas and cooked beans.
While the food is being cooked the local Shaman prepares a sheet on the ground with fruits and petals of flowers and performs a ceremony to bless the day and the food. This is an offer of thanks giving.
Music and folk dancing were part of the ritual. We had a group of approximately 80 people and it was a special occasion for us to be involved in this ancient tradition.
November 2nd honors the Day of the Dead in South America, the second indigenous celebration we share with you. The Indigenous gather at the local cemetery and sit on the graves of the departed loves ones. They bring food to share with friends and talk about their deceased. In Cotacachi, I estimate 1,000 Indigenous people were at our local cemetery.
In preparation for Day of the Dead, bread babies are baked. “Wawas de pan” are sweet bread figurines, sometimes flavored with cinnamon or anise. The bread is molded into traditional shapes to honor the dead. Many are shaped like a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes to represent life after death. Typical of the Andes, the people believe that the spirits of the dead will arrive to visit on November 2nd of each year.
Cotacachi’s Special Olympics is in its second year of operation. A couple that volunteer at our food kitchen are involved as sponsors to encourage these young people to develop skills. The photos show our Olympians practicing at the City stadium for an upcoming national competition event on November 10 to 13 in Manta. Participating special athletes are aged from 4 to 22. Four will join a team from Imbabura and will compete with running, long jumps and relays. They are receiving recognition and their families are very proud of their accomplishments. Cotacachi may be a small town but there are many caring expats that offer their time to help the less fortunate.
Again, thank you for all the support you have given us in the past. Our wonderful volunteers and I deeply appreciate your help. Donations go through PayPal and any donation is welcomed. There are no administrative fees and all funds go directly for helping feed our poor or those in need.
Founder of Ecuador Project Hope