As Virtuoso Travel Consultant, Speaker, and International Event Planner & Fundraising Specialist, I have had the privilege of travelling to some of the most magical and mystical places around the globe. Each has its own beauty, charm and spirit. When I plan any trip for my clients I use my own experiences and global connections to create memorable and unique itineraries. Through my years of travel, I have seen some awe inspiring scenery and met interesting people, however, some trips remain with me longer and touch me deeper than others. My recent journey throughout South America has proven to be such. I share with you the story of determination, pride, independence and strength of a group of women who reinforced my belief that together we can create journeys that are meaningful and purposeful leaving both you, the traveller, and those you meet along the way feeling more enriched for the experience!!
This Community of Angla Parish San Pablo, Canton Otavalo province Imbabura (yes, quite the mouthful) is home to some incredible women. Going against tradition, these women took a stand and formed an alliance that allowed them to practice the ways of their past. Using herbs and plants, all of which they grow themselves on this land inherited from their ancestors, they perform healing rituals, blend medicinal salves and educate the next generation on the traditions of their Quichuan ancestors.
This is not a place that is on the “tourist grid” and it is by invitation only, that one is allowed to enter into this tight knit community. My husband, Rick, and I were fortunate to have been able to spend time here and witness the women at work. We were honoured to be invited into the home of the Pacha Mamas living in this beautiful remote village more than two hours outside of Quito. When we arrived we were greeted with smiles and warm hands of welcome for us, two Canadian strangers.
These Quichua indigenous women took time to explain to us their history and told how it was through their mothers and grandmothers before them that they learned the ways of the Earth and its power to heal both body and mind. Although they did not speak any English and their Spanish was a mixture of old Spanish and Quichua, our guide Vivian was able to interpret, as they told us of the history of the Pacha Mama, which means Mother Earth, and in particular their small group of women. They live modestly but are proud of their Quichua roots and blend those beliefs smoothly with their deep Catholic faith. It was not without its challenges that the Pacha Mamas were able to establish their organization. Even women from their own community believed that such a policy went against the moral code of the their ways and to this day make it difficult for those who dare to join. It is therefore surprising to know that the husbands of these Pacha Mamas not only gave their blessings, but helped them to construct the buildings that sit on the farm giving them shelter and a place to call their own. Although small in numbers, the Pacha Mamas are a determined group of women who have created a beautiful inclusive community, giving back to the land and people they so cherish.
Two sisters who follow their mother and grandmother as Shamans honoured us with a healing ritual. As they were preparing for the ceremony, the women explained how they identify plants as being either male or female and that each of those have hot and cold varieties. It is by blending together the right combination of plants that they are able to perform specific rites. In our case it was one to heal the soul and bring inner peace. We took our place in the centre of a carved cement circle showing the directional letters representing North, South, East and West. We watched as the Pacha Mamas prepared the plants and lit a small fire inside a bowl. As the scent of the blended herbs floated into the air, a bouquet of plants was dipped into essence water and splashed upon us from head to toe. It was hard not to feel overwhelmed and honoured by this rare opportunity. Once the ritual was complete and we stood in silent reflection, we could both feel a light tingling creeping its way up our skin. This, as we were told, was normal and would not be long-lasting. To allow the rite to fully complete its circle, we were instructed to touch no one for at least an hour. This would ensure that no other person’s bad karma could enter into our space and the power of the herbs could do their job. It was truly an inspiring and spiritual experience.
Spending time with these incredible women left me with a desire to share their story with others. Working together with the Pacha Mamas and our local expert guide, who is also our personal link to the not-yet tech savvy Pacha Mamas, we have created one of a kind experiences for those wanting to take their travels to the next level. Every trip we take allows us to write a new chapter in our book of life, and for those wishing to experience a truly inspirational and unique travel immersion this one is for you!
Imagine living and working side by side with the Pacha Mamas and their families. Learn how they use the knowledge they have gained from their ancestors to continue to preserve their land and culture. You will share this unique experience with a small group of like-minded individuals as you embark on this socially satisfying and spiritually fulfilling journey! As a small part of a bigger adventure you will travel “Off The Beaten Tourist Path” throughout various villages in the Andes regions of Ecuador with your personal guide experiencing the flavours, culture and handicrafts of the “real” Ecuador.
Join us and “Travel with a Cause.” We will work together to help you create new life chapters that are meaningful and purposeful, leaving both you, the traveller, and those you meet along the way feeling more enriched for the experience.
If you are interested in participating in our Pacha Mama Experience, contact Camille Jocsak direct at 416.347.7440 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.