Where is Otavalo, Ecuador?
Ecuador is sandwiched between Colombia and Peru, on the western side of South America. Otavalo, home to a predominantly indigenous population, is located about an hour and 15 minutes north of the Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Quito), just about a half an hour north of the equator.
Ecuador is an often overlooked destination, which might be a part of what makes it so special! With four distinct regions–Amazon, Andes, coast, and the Galapagos Islands–Ecuador has something for everyone. If and group participants would like to get tips on other parts of Ecuador to explore while they are here, please put them in touch directly with us.
Is Otavalo Safe?
As with anywhere in the world, keeping an awareness of your surroundings is paramount, especially in the market. Pick pocketing and petty theft are alive and well. We encourage travelers to keep phones in front pockets, leave passports at the hotel, and carry small bills.
I see so many stray dogs and it’s hard to look at. What can I do?
Many dogs you see actually have homes, but are free to wander the streets. If you come across a truly hungry dog and want to feed it, bread is a cheap and welcome meal for any stray. World Vets organization is here multiple times each year offering local spay and neuter clinics, staying at Casa Latitud.
Who does the scholarship program serve?
We offer partial to complete scholarships for anybody living in the Otavalo area, and even some from other provinces. Students are expected to maintain a 3.0 GPA and give back to the foundation in the form of volunteering or, for university students, in the form of scholarships for other deserving students. We currently have 51 students from six different communities, aged 6 to 38.
What is the cost of education in Ecuador?
All public schools require that students get themselves to school, cover the cost of uniforms (yes, even for public schools!), and provide all their own school supplies. This cost can be prohibitive for low-income families in the area. We offer $300/year scholarships for elementary school, $400/year for secondary school, and $600-2500 per semester for our university students. To put it into perspective, a minimum monthly salary is $384–hence the difficulty for families with limited resources.
What can I do to be a part of this project?
We happily accept ESL teachers who want to come and offer their services to the foundation in exchange for our love and respect, tasty food, and a beautiful home (Casa Latitud). Donations in the form of schools supplies are always welcome, as are monetary contributions. We are pleased to say that 100% of the funds we receive from the public go directly to scholarship students. If you are interested in making a donation to our general scholarship fund, or considering sponsoring an individual, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2020, Maggie and Gwyn Reniers said goodbye to Casa Latitud–the group lodging project managed by Latitude Foundation. After turning it over to the staff to run on their own, they decided to return to the name La Posada del Quinde. The owner-operators now offer lodging to the public, as well as offer a full-service restaurant (Café Pachamama) both to guests and to the general public. Check them out at: www.posadaquinde.com