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La Sierra: Kinti Wasi

July 30, 2021

By Elena, Naomi, and Brooke

This week we traveled from La Granja to Kinti Wasi, a community farm run by three indigenous women, Carmen, Jacova, and Veronica. In Kichwa, Kinti Wasi means “house of the hummingbirds.” We’re surrounded by mountains in every direction and all the buildings are covered with beautiful murals depicting Kinti Wasi’s history and the nature it is immersed in. Our group is kept company by artists, travelers, and lively animals (some of our favorites being week-old lambs, boisterous roosters, and friendly cats).

Since arriving, we’ve been very well fed. The staff at Kinti Wasi have cooked us beautiful traditional meals including a bountiful pampamesa, which is a feast of fruits, veggies, and in this case, cuy raised at Kinti Wasi, served on a spread of banana leaves. For many of us, this was our first opportunity to try cuy (guinea pig), which is often served at weddings and festivals in Ecuador. We spend most days here learning about Indigenous culture, language, and techniques, as well as keeping up our Spanish and holding discussions about complex societal themes and global issues. We love hearing diverse opinions and perspectives from within our group and also from the Kinti Wasi staff.

Some of our favorite activities here at Kinti Wasi have included bioconstruction, mural painting, and Kichwa lessons. During bioconstruction, we learned about traditional techniques of mixing mud, sand, horse poop, and straw to insulate houses while decorating the outsides with symbolic designs. We’ve enjoyed being able to show off the new Kichwa phrases in our vocabulary, such as “yupaychani” (thank you) and “alli tuta” (good evening). It has been quite an experience attempting to learn a third language in Spanish, which for the majority of us is not our first language.

We have also had the opportunity to learn about the historical and current connections that the indigenous community here has with the mountains. Recently, we followed Carmen up a nearby mountain and participated in an offering at the peak. During the six-hour hike, Carmen played traditional music on a drum made of animal skin and a flute-like instrument (sometimes playing both simultaneously). Other cultural experiences we’ve had included watching an indigenous music group and dancing along to some of their performances. To help out around Kinti Wasi, we propagated and planted native trees and cared for the cuy that Kinti Wasi raises. It was eye-opening to see how sustainable agricultural practices can be in a community-centered environment.

With our few remaining days, we’ve recommitted to making the most of our time here and although we’re sad to be leaving this amazing place, we’re excited to reconnect with you all back home!

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