Wednesday, March 12, 2014

SPANISH SCHOOLS IN CUENCA ECUADOR - Yanapuma Spanish School in Cuenca - We celebrated TAITA CARNAVAL together!

Students from Yanapuma Spanish School Dance and Celebrate Taita Carnaval 2014

Recently, Bo and I decided to sign up for Spanish classes again.  There are many Spanish conversational groups meeting around Cuenca, but we both agreed it was time to take more personalized and individual classes to go to the next level.  I wanted private lessons, and Bo decided on a smaller group class.  We chose Yanapuma Spanish School  (http://www.yanapumaspanish.org/) because of their excellent reputation and also all their profits support and promote the sustainable development in indigenous and marginalized communities.  Their teachers are carefully screened and trained before being released to teach students.  They have individual and group classes, and also cultural excursions.  Though the school is only a few months in Cuenca (7 years in Quito), it is growing rapidly.  We were pleased they could accommodate us into their almost full schedule.

Right after signing up, we received an invitation for all students of Yanapuma to attend the 7th annual Festival of the Kushi Waira Taita Carnaval Celebration put on by The Cultural Tourist Centre Kushi Waira of the parish of Tarqui.  We accepted, and on a rainy Saturday morning, we boarded a tour bus with 15 other students ready to experience this special day of history, music, dancing, eating and celebrating with this beautiful and humble indigenous people of Ecuador.  It was a great group of students who celebrated with gusto and embraced this amazing culture.  We were honored to be a part of this community celebration and educational experience.

The CaƱaris (in Kichwa - Kanari) were the ancient inhabitants of the provinces of Azuay.  Today, they live in their customs and traditions, embracing nature with an utmost respect to mother earth (Pachamama).  They celebrate their festival at URCU AYA, the spirit of the mountain, and honor the fertility of the land, planting, and harvest.  The Kushi Waira celebrate yearly for the purpose of revitalizing the reality of their customs and traditions.


  It was a day of Andean music, laughter, darling children, festive attire, and JOY!

We were served breakfast with the typical food of the TAITA CARNAVAL.

Our lead host educates us on the different hand-carved instruments and gives us a demo.

There would be a drawing at the end of the festival for 4 of the flutes.  Yup, Bo won a hand-carved flute!!

It's time to take a walk......

.....and higher and higher we climb......

........away from the community below, up to the sacred place of Jatun Urcu.

Walking sticks were helpful for this steep, wet, muddy trail!

The community hosts carried drinks in large pots strapped to their backs for the celebration.

A magical forest trail.....

......with exotic medicinal plants......

......all labeled with their healing properties......

....graced the path......and we walked and walked.....

.....and finally reached our destination where musical instruments, song, and dance continued and......

.....hot spicy beverages.....

......were poured and served to the visitors. 

(We were served the traditional Canelazo drink and La Chicha de Jora (a rice drink with alcohol)

The ceremony to the PACHAMAMA is explained, as well as the customs and traditions of this unique community.  

More music and dancing.....

.....as this community honors their yearly celebration together.

Powdered faces are a part of this CARNAVAL tradition.

A colorful harvest wreath leads the music and dance procession.

Such a look of contentment on this festive indigenous community member.

Everyone was attentive as the history of Pachamama was explained.

Children filled with joy and splashed with powder.


It was time to return to the cultural center.....

.....where huge pots of celebration food were being carefully prepared for the guests.

There was enough food for twice the crowd.

The dancing and music continued....

..... and even the roosters celebrated!

Children twirled to the music.......

.....and the band played on!

It was time for the community meal.

Choclo, potatoes.....

.....chicken and pork.....

......rice and bowls of Aji - oh my!!!

We sat together in community and feasted and feasted and.....

.....feasted some more!  The "Ollas encantadas" were served before us with love, and we ate with gusto and gratitude. 

Bo and I had never experienced a community meal like this before, and the entire experience (including being powdered) was a wonderful memorable time for both of us. 

 If you go to their website at http://www.kushiwaira.com/ you will be able to learn more about this humble community in Tarqui and what they have to offer visitors.

The End!


  1. What a tremendous cultural experience you had! I love the Yanapuma Language School because they host things like this. And your pix are fabulous illustrations of your rainy, Saturday journey.

    1. Hi Carolyn,
      Glad you could take the journey through my lens. It was another one of our fabulous day trips to learn the traditions and embrace the culture of Ecuador. We're so blessed to live here and be a part of the yearly festivities. I hope you have a chance to visit this community and to dine with them. The food was FABULOUS!

  2. Hi Linda,

    Another great post, your beautiful photos could almost speak for themselves and your commentary is always fascinating. What adventures you are having!

    Do you find Ecuadorean Andean Spanish very different from the Spanish you grew up with, and very different from what is commonly taught outside of the area? I am slogging through a couple of online learn Spanish resources, and wonder how much I will need to UNlearn, though at the snail's pace I'm going, that might not be too much :(


    1. Hola Polly,
      Glad you are enjoying my photography and commentary about our adventures here in Ecuador. The Spanish here is the same as what I grew up with, but my accent is very obvious to the Ecuadorians. They know it is Puerto Rican Spanish! I have an "L" sound over the "R" sound. It has been fun improving on so much of the Spanish I lost after not using it for so many years - but it's there and continues to manifest the more I speak and communicate each day.
      Enjoy the continuing posts of Longoods' Journey.


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