“Welcome to the land of the Cacha people” was the first thing we heard when we arrived at Pucara Tambo, a cultural heaven in the mountains of Riobamba. Today we would experience an indigenous world view, 3,500 meters high and looking over the city. To make an understatement, the view was spectacular.

To start off our tour, we participated in a cleansing ceremony performed by an indigenous elder, Segundo. This consisted of many components: involving eggs, herbs, and a large bonfire. Three people were chosen to take part in an energy “test” to find out how much negative/bad energy they had. Being high school students, all three were found to have negative energy, some more than others. All three, in turn, were cleansed with a combination of herbs and medicinal plants. We even learned what each plant’s purpose was. After witnessing the powerful nature of the cleanse, the whole group decided to be cleansed as well. For some, the ceremony was so powerful it brought them to tears. It was beautiful and humbling to believe in something greater than yourself.

After the cleansing ceremony, we were taken on a tour of the sacred and beautiful grounds. One of the mostadventurous moments entailed picking up a bunny by the ears out of a hole in the ground; it was like magic. The bunnies became calm as soon as you held them by the ears, allowing all members of the group to each get a turn holding and petting the bunnies. Other exciting animals included alpacas, llamas, and guinea pigs. The guinea pig experience was delicious… The group leaders were very impressed by the Global Glimpsers willingness to try new foods.

The tour included a guided lecture of artifacts and tools used to make materials needed by the Cacha people. Segundo was dramatically impressed by all the students’ abilities to ask questions and participate in discussions. These were some of the moments one might attribute to the beautiful nature of wanting to learn. We were truly travelers that day.

The questions of the day was: “Why is the notion of community so important to the people of the world?” and “How is that different from the way people live in the western world?”  The notion of community so beloved by the Cacha people dumbfounded us all. Pamba Mihkoy, more-or-less translating to buffet, represented the value in sharing what each has to better the community. Segundo spoke about asking permission to use the goods nature had to offer. Nothing from the earth belonged to one person in that community, it was all harvested from the Earth so it was all meant to be shared and appreciated.