Communal tourism unites visitors

Communal tourism unites visitors

Communal tourism, as practised by several Indian groups in Ecuador, offers foreign visitors a chance to experience a simple life in touch with nature as well as 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 be in harmony with nature’s elements. And in so doing help the economy.

Saraguro is located in a small valley and is home to the Indian community of the same name and an enterprising spirit that saw in tourism a chance to showcase to the world the natural and cultural treasures of the area.

Visitors can spend weeks lodged in specially furnished rooms at residents’ homes or, if they so choose, share in their hosts’ daily lives.

Communal tourism offers visitors a chance to till the land 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 provides a varied cuisine combining flavours, tastes and the quality of 100 per cent organic produce.

Maria Juana Cartucho, a leader of the Saraguro Communal Tourism Association, says a human connection with the sun’s cosmic energy is best achieved during the northern summer solstice on June 21 and the winter solstice on December 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.


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