As we drove up, we saw children coming from the school that is on site here, and we walked down a cobblestone path to get to the waterfall. Along the way, Rodrigo pointed out a tree that was carved with initials of lovers. He told us that although Catholicism was the main religion in Ecuador, indigenous people also had their own beliefs, and a lot of the time, religious teachings were mixed with pagan beliefs. One of these is that BIG trees are filled with a spirit, and if lovers carve their initials in the tree while courting, that the gods will protect them. Also, there is a tree called La Lechero, the living tree, and before you are married, you carve your initials in this tree for longevity and passion in the marriage.
The waterfall itself is magnificent, and the tingling cool spray is so refreshing. There is a higher lookout point that gets you closer to the waterfall, and so of course, up we go! I can always tell the difference in the elevation, but it doesn’t seem to bother Kelly much! (This is a place where you’d like to just spend a lot of time). The rushing is thunderous, and we both felt energized for our walk back.
Like many other Andean communities, the Peguche community celebrates “Inti Raymi”, or sun festival. Inti Raymi is the biggest and most famous Andean Ritual. It begins on June 24 when thousands of people visit the sacred places to take the “Baño Sagrado” or sacred bath as part of a purification ceremony and many come to the Peguche waterfall – they are also filled with energy for the coming seasons.
They also celebrate “Paucar Raymi” each spring. Paucar Raymi is a time to honor the fertility of the land, and give thanks to “Taita Inti” or Father Sun for giving us the light of life and to “Quilla Mama” or Mother Moon, for protecting our dreams.
We ended our day at Lake Cuicocha (the volcanic lake) at the foot of Imbabura, where you can take a tour by boat around the islands. A fabulous meal at the lake restaurant, and we were ready to call it a day! (The meal: roast pork, potato cakes, fried and boiled corn, avocado, cheese, and fried plantains).