We started our day with a traditional Ecuadorian breakfast at the local restaurant Nativa. We enjoyed fruita pichada, had a choice of leche (milk) or tea, scrambled eggs, ometias- a tamale. It was muy delicioso! When we returned to the hotel, we gathered to talk about culture. Our question of the day was “Why is the notion of community so important for the world? How is that different from the way people live in the western world?” Our quote of the day was, “Indio was the term they used to subdue us; Indio will be the term we use to liberate us.” –Anonymous

We had a bumpy bus ride up the mountain to a place called Cacha Alli Sama Turismi Comunitaria Andino with an altitude of 3,265 meters! We got a tour of the cabins made out of mud and animal feces and also experienced a traditional Ecuadorian cleansing. The plants that were used for the cleansing were called Ontigq, Eueolipyo, Mavico, Romeo, Palo Santo, Saumerio. Along the way we met two furry friends… a llama and alpaca named Micaela and Pancho. #CanAlpacas&LlamasMate? #TurnsOutTheyCan

We looked at traditional plants they used for medical reasons. In the museum that we toured, we learned about the clothing of Cacha indeigionous people — for women they wore long sleeve shirts and blouses, and a thick belt known as faja around the waist to keep up the skirt and to keep strength, and macana, a wrap around blanket, were used to carry food and babies. Men wore ponchos and long pants. We witnessed several beautiful woven creations made by the Cacha people using a machine. They learned to weave when they were children. We learned about how one of the machines was powered by the hips, and it was used to make ponchos, and it would take three days. As we toured we felt privileged to witnessed how hard and long the Cacha people worked.

As we walked up on the steep slopes, our breath was taken with the incredible view of Riobamba. Then after for lunch we were shook by the Ecuadorian delicacy known as Cuy, a guinea pig. We were provided with: chicha de avene, pochoucho, Ilobls, milloco, Chodo, salsa de queso, emsolodo, mailohelse con ponela, and queso! The feeling of eating yet another traditional meal up in the mountains with a llama and an alpaca next to us was truly liberating.

We quickly hurried to our hotel to gather our items for our first tutoring class with kids of various ages with the determination to learn English. At first we were nervous with the idea of teaching other kids a new language. Then when we arrived, we felt at ease as soon as we started to look for our classrooms and students. The feeling of helping others really does warm the heart. We got to play games and interact with the children we were paired with. We finished off the day with dinner at our favorite restaurant Nativa. We were served an appetizer, sopa chupe de pescado, a fish soup; seco de costilla de res con platano frito, jugo pina, and migos. In other words, ribs with sauce and rice and fried plantains with pineapple juice was the next thing we were served. Tired after a long day of exploring and learning, we came back to our hotel, and we had our usual nightly meeting about our day, and passed on the touch to the next Lideres del Dia.

Sahian Sotelo – Pritzker College Prep

Greta Waterkotte – Evanston Township High School