Inti Raymi or “party of the sun and harvest” is one of the most important ancestral celebrations for indigenous communities from Andes-Ecuador, there are several events in different places, this celebration is during solstice, June 21st until the end of the month. When I was in USA somebody asked me about What it mean Inti Raymi and I felt embarrassed because I did not know the answers, being a Ecuadorian from the coast is not an excuse that´s Why I decided to looking for the answer for myself.
Friday, June 28th
I arrived to Quito at 5:30 am after long night trip (7 hours). I had to wait for My indigenous friend Yaku who invited me to this celebrations. He arrived at 6:00 am with another three girls, after a quick breakfast We left at 7:00 am to Otavalo-Imbabura.
Three hours later We arrived to Cotacachi We heard there will be a event at night so We decided to hang out to have some fun and the route was “La laguna de Cuicocha”
Its name comes from the Kichwa indigenous language and means:
Cui- Cuy – guinea pig
cocha- laguna – lake
The caldera was created by a massive eruption about 3100 years ago that generated about 5 cubic kilometres (6.54 billion cubic yards) of pyroclastic flow and covered the surrounding area in volcanic ash up to 20 cm (8 inches) deep. The volcano has been dormant since that time. The Cuicocha Lake, a crater lake within the Cuicocha caldera contains four lava domes which form two forested islands: Yerovi, the smaller, and Teodoro Wolf. The lake, which is 200 m (656 ft) deep at its deepest point, is highly alkaline and contains little life, It has no known outlet. We hiked, we took a boat tour… not too bad for our starting day, don´t you think?
- Laguna de Cuicocha – Imbabura, Ecuador
During our lunch in a popular market in Otavalo (very close to Cotacachi) I was listening people around speaking Kewchua I just could understand Inti Raymi and nothing else so obviously mostly of the talking were about this, after lunch we got to “La plaza de ponchos” where indigenous people from Otavalo and surrounding communities sell their handicrafts. You will find a wide range of weavings, jewelry, clothes, wood and stone carvings, paintings. Plaza de ponchos a place that everybody can easily fascinated with all the colors.
We still can not find any event around so we decided to visit another nice place “La cascada de Peguche” (Pegunche waterfall” is an historical place which was used in the time of the Incas to bath before the Inty Raimy party; today people still doing this kind of ritual. The chiefs of the various indigenous communities participate in “sacred bath” in waterfalls, lakes or rivers in the area, to externalize the powers, energy and connection with the “Pacha Mama” or mother earth.
The sunset came and we decided to return to our stay place to take a break and prepare for the night, it was a long way since my friend Yaku did not remember the way back, I noticed that many people lit a small fire outside their houses and as my official guide Yaku had walked so fast that I stayed behind I had to ask an old man who told: we are telling good bye the San Juan and welcome to San Pedro (both Catholic saints) is funny how ancestral traditions have transformations due to unfluencia by Catholic Church mainly in this ethnic group.
We finally arrived at the house of our friendly host David who in the company of Blaquita cooked us a delicious chicken soup, as domestic gas was finished we had to go outside to continue cooking in a makeshift kitchen using firewood, it was very chilly but with the heat of the fire and the warm talk was a great time sharing with multiple languages, cultures and nationalities. (Yaku, Paul, Margarita, David, Blanquita, Sarah and Me).
At night we got to town we joined an groups who dance through the streets with musical instruments, showing dance, music and the joy, stopping at every home to share with their brothers and friends the traditional chicha (corn drink). I could not take good pictures, my camera did not help but I hope have given a good idea about Inti Raymi of course this is just a preview the huge event was next day.
Three o’clock I was done!!! My body did not resist more so it was time to go sleep thinking about My next expected day 🙂