Salasaka and Kichwa Language

Salasaka

Experience the culture of the indigenous communities of Salasaka, while volunteering.

Salasaka is a small indigenous town, located in the Tungurahua Province in the center of Ecuador in the Andean Highlands, halfway along the road from Ambato to Baños. The Salasakans - direct descendants of the Inkas - speak Spanish and Kichwa. Their main economic activities are agriculture and handicrafts. Almost every family has a (small) farm with cows, pigs, chickens etc. next to their house.

Local craftsmanship includes items such as tapestries which are woven by hand on looms of very ancient technology. Many of the designs depict different aspects of their lives. There is a market in the central plaza of Salasaka called "Plaza of the Arts".


The traditional music is played on their cultural festivals, using flutes and drums.

The Salasakans have a very colorful past and the history is portrayed in a unique museum in the center of town. The work on this museum took many years and it opened its doors to the public in 2013. It is housed in the tallest building in Salasaka and is open every day from 9:00 to 5:00.

The people of Salasaka celebrate unique festivals throughout the year, including:
  • Caporales: A 3-day festival in February to remember the resistance of the indigenous and black people against the Spanish conquerers.
  • Inti Raymi: Festival of the sun, celebrated on June 21st (summer solstice). Very special, because Salasaka is almost at the equator!
  • Finados: Day of the dead, celebrated on November 2nd at the cemenary, to honor and remember the deceased.
  • Capitanes: Celebrating the conquest and participation of Salasaka in the revolt/uprising of Eloy Alfaro (3 days in December). 

As a volunteer you will be welcomed into the community and not observe but truly participate in the festivals and daily life of Salasaka. Do not miss this unique opportunity.

Kichwa Language

Kichwa is the mother tongue of many of the indigenous people living in the Ecuadorian Andeans and most of the residents of Salasaka. Almost everyone in Salasaka is bilingual in Spanish and Kichwa, so it's certainly useful to learn a few phrases:

Kichwa Spanish English
Imanalla ¿Que tal? How are you?
Allilla, kanga Bien ¿Y tu? Good, and you?
Yupaychany ¡Gracias! Thank you!
Ashangama Hasta luego See you later
Jacu Vamos Let's go
Shami shami ¡Venga, venga! Come, come!
Maimo ringi ¿A donde vas? Where are you going?
Achachay! ¡Que frío! Brrrrr! (cold temperature)

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