In the Andean highlands of Ecuador, north of the capital of Quito, the people of Chilcapamba make their living by farming and creating handcrafts—which they sell at the famous Otavalo market, located 30 minutes away. The village lacks a market of its own, where they can sell vegetables, livestock, and crafts—both within their own community and to visitors passing through.
In November of 2016, a group of nine O.A.T. associates from our office in Quito visited Chilcapamba for a day of community service. The team hoped to interact with the local people—who meet O.A.T. travelers on an optional tour during Ultimate Galápagos Exploration & Ecuador’s Amazon Wilds—and learn about their indigenous customs and traditions. They also planned to help prepare a parcel of land that would eventually house a marketplace, and to renovate the village’s communal kitchen.
Arriving in the evening, the team split into smaller groups and visited with several local families, who graciously hosted them overnight in their homes. The community came together to share a cultural performance, featuring their traditional dances and costumes.
The next morning, the team got to work alongside their new friends, clearing the land of weeds, rocks, and debris, and preparing the soil for planting. In the kitchen area, they installed equipment and supplies donated by Grand Circle Foundation. After a busy but rewarding day, they shared lunch with the Chilcapamba community, and presented them with gifts of toys, clothing, and linens.
The team headed back to Quito with a greater understanding of their neighbors in the mountains—and the rewarding knowledge that the community was one step closer to becoming a destination in itself, rather than a quick stop en route to Otavalo. They all agree that Chilcapamba is certainly worth a visit.
You’ll have the opportunity to visit Chilcapamba on an optional tour during O.A.T.’s Ultimate Galápagos Exploration & Ecuador’s Amazon Wilds adventure.