Archive for the ‘Nizag Indigenous Community’ Category
Here is Jassa Best from Germany describing her volunteer experience in the Andes indigenous Community of Nizag, one of the most beautiful regions of the entire Andes mountain range.
My 10 days volunteering in Nizag were just great! I got to know the kind people and their culture and living conditions quite well as I would not had been able to experience it elsewhere.
We cooked together, danced together and they taught me a little of Kichwa, their native language. I could participate in their projects like tourism as they were showing the tourists their traditional dances at “Nariz del Diablo” (nose of the devil, the steepest trailway of Ecuador) for instance.
I also got to know their products or handicrafts (artesenia) that are sold on the markets. I would recommend to volunteer some days in the peaceful Nizag to everybody, who is interested in culture and ethnology, and would like to make a different experience from “normal touristic travel”!
If you have read the lonely planet or researched that area of the Andes you would have heard of the Nariz del Diablo train. It used to be incredibly popular and draw thousands of people to Riobamba every week. What attracted tourists to the Nariz del Diablo train ride was being able to sit on the roof and experience the incredible beauty of that area in the Andes which runs through Nizag and ends near the Lost Pyramid of Puñay
Then about three years ago some thoughtless idiot installed a computer cable over the train tracks which severed the heads of two Japanese tourists sitting on the front of the train and covered everyone else in blood.
The story was hushed in the newspapers to not scare away tourists from Ecuador and the Nariz del Diablo train was quietly shutdown for “maintenance” for over two years.
The train has recently started running again charging an overpriced $20 for a shortened two hour journey – travelers cannot ride on the roof however which has reduced the novelty of the ride.
This is not a big deal – if you really want to experience the stunning beauty of this part of the Andes then I highly recommend you forget the Nariz del Diablo train and Volunteer in the Andes at Nizag or explore the Lost Pyramid of Puñay
You wont regret it!
Here is Carol from the Netherlands testimonial after spending three months volunteering in the Andes and the Jungle of Ecuador on one of our Volunteer Packages
I worked 3 months for Ecuador Eco Volunteer, in 3 different projects. The first project was in the jungle near Puyo, volunteering at an animal rescue center. The people there know only some words in English so it was direct a good practice for my Spanish. I was picked up by the owner at the bus station in Puyo. The refuge is in de middle of nowhere so we needed to do shopping’s for a whole week first.
The centre had several animals; parrots, caimans, peccaries, turtles and a paca. And there are also some half wild animals like a tapir and several species of monkeys. 2 Weeks my work was helping with cooking and cleaning because there where big groups of students there. And 2 weeks we worked on a new stair to the turtles. And some days we went looking for the tapir, to see if it was still ok. These were some very nice jungle trips! I also liked the cooking because I learned some typical Ecuadorian meals.
The next month I worked in an orchid garden, also in Puyo. I stayed in the house of the family. The family was very nice. The owner is a special man, with a great love for nature. He created a little forest near the city with beautiful orchids and many plants and trees that are used by the people in the jungle. I learned a lot about orchid pollination and the eatable, medicinal and other useful plants. I gave tours to ingles speaking tourist, planted a lot of seeds, replanted trees, put new sawdust on the walking paths and I made a start for posters for the new museum.
My last month I got to Volunteered in Mindo, a beautiful, small and save town in the middle of a lot of nature. Here I also worked in an orchid garden. I helped with the orchids, labeling them, cleaning them and I cleaned the paths and helped when there were tourists. Also I helped with working at the canopy lines. The family was really friendly and again I learned a lot more about orchids, but also about birds, because the owner is also a great bird guide and in the garden are many hummingbirds!
Wlady and the Ecuador Eco Volunteer organization arranged everything very well. He always helped me how to get to the places, and made sure I was picked up. Although I used many weekend to discover more of Ecuador I was always welcome in his house! I was even welcome to celebrate new-year with him and his family!
All this moths I learned a lot and had a great time!
Here is what Rachel has to say about her time volunteering in the indigenous community of Nizag near the Nariz del Diablo, you can also check out the photos she took when volunteering in nizag by clicking the link.
On my first day of volunteering at the indigenous community of Nizag, I shucked corn while sitting on the side of the mountain, rode a donkey, and learned about the different crops in the Nariz del Diablo valley. I returned to the Casa de Turismo after spending a full day with Margarita—tired, dusty and excited to see what the next day would bring.
I spent two weeks in Nizag hosted by a different family each day, including the weekend. I helped herd the animals up and down the mountains, learned about and assisted with crops—corn, lentils, potatoes, just to name a few—and, most importantly, learned about the lives of the people living in Nizag. I had hoped to teach English, but because of long working days, I never was able to. After spending the day with a family (and very excited children), I would return to the Casa de Turismo to read and indulge in a warm electric shower. I had all my meals with the families who tried to accommodate my vegetarianism and make foods I enjoyed. Most times, my meals consisted of soup, rice, vegetables, potatoes, and eggs. There was a kitchen at my disposal, but I felt no need to use it given the large helpings I was offered.
Everywhere I went, I was cheerfully greeted and offered kindness and generosity. Many were curious about life in the U.S, since most people in Nizag had at least one family member abroad in the U.S. or Spain. I explained the outrageous price of organic avocados in the U.S. ($2 for one), airfare between New York and Quito, and life in the U.S. As a twenty-three unmarried woman, I was considered quite the “old maid” in Nizag, where many women get married before they are eighteen.
Still, each day was an opportunity to improve my Spanish, learn a few words of Kichwa, and experience the daily life in Nizag. I was satisfied with my volunteer experience, especially because the people were very open, friendly, and patient with me. I would recommend this experience to others who really want to get to know and understand the lifestyle, hardships, and customs of indigenous people in a small community in Ecuador. It was an experience I won’t easily forget.
Ok Karla has just spent the last two weeks volunteering in the indigenous Kichwa community of Nizag. She wrote us up an amazingly detailed description of her two weeks in the community which i will quote in this blog post.
My first full day in Nizag I spent the day in La Casa de Artesanias with about 30 women of the community. I was asked many questions most of which had to do with my life and needless to say with 30 women they knew my life story in no time. The questions asked of me were always in Kichwa with the odd person translating for me in Spanish and then explaining my response back in Kichwa. I laughed along the entire day not knowing what exactly we were laughing at but as soon as I laughed we all laughed harder knowing that I had no idea what or who it was that was funny. The lunch served that day was noodles and rice of course with some Guinea pig meat. I knew coming to Ecuador guinea pig was popular but also thought I would not eat it considering they to me were pets not the edible kind. I ate around the meat which brought even more attention to me so I tried to explain my dilemma which of course made people laugh even harder at the only gringa in the community.
Everyday was different in Nizag but the only thing I knew was inevitable were the long walks to take the donkeys, horses or cows to pasture. I am from London, Ontario Canada and in no way am fit enough to handle those long walks that went uphill and downhill across the community seeing as I have nothing to compare this to back home. I tried to prove myself but gave in and took breaks but this served as my opportunity to ask questions about Nizag which everybody was more than willing to answer.
Nizag is an indigenous community nestled in between mountains and is the only community in the surrounding area that has preserved the Kichwa language. The name came from a Priest that had settled in Nizag and had established the first church there his surname was Nizag and so it was named in his honor. The people had a bit of fun with me knowing that I could not handle the walks but were very patient and always carried oranges for our breaks. Everyone in the community helps each other with whatever needs to be done that day so we often peeled corn or helped carry things from one home to another. At the Tourism Council meeting my third night I was chatting with a member named Jose and explaining to him why I thought I was having trouble walking throughout the community which I attributed to the altitude but was promptly told by a women in the corner that the altitude wasn’t to blame I was just fat, this didn’t upset me because she was just trying to be helpful and I couldn’t expect her to know about altitude considering the fact that she grew up on a mountain.
I spent 10 days in Nizag and had no idea what to expect when I arrived. I had alot of questions beforehand but figured that whatever experience I had I would take something away from it. To those thinking of going I can say that you will be surrounded by some of the most sincere, genuine, hard working people. I am guessing that if you are looking for an indigenous community to visit you should expect some things but alot of things about Nizag will surprise you in alot of good ways. The community is unique and so are the people and it becomes obvious pretty quickly that they are proud of their community and have good reason to be. I will never regret having made the decision to visit Nizag and doubt those that will afterward regret their decision either. I’ll take this experience with me back home and know that I’ll be taking with me far more than what I could have expected.
If you would like to ask Karla any questions about volunteering in Nizag personally she will be all too happy to share her experience, just send me an email and i will pass on contact details!
Hopefully we will have some of her photos to share here soon as well :)