In the Presence of The Queen of Water in Otavalo

Otavalo, a small town, two hours north from Quito, is world known for its artisanal crafts such as textiles, musical instruments, jewelry, hats, and hammocks. The community is proud of its indigenous heritage, practices, language, and customs. María Virginia Farinango is one of those proud otavaleñas. She coauthored —with Laura Resau— an auto-biographical novel about the hardships of growing up in a society where many women, particularly indigenous young women, live as underpaid —if there were lucky— servants, nannies, cooks, and farm hands without any opportunity for an education, progress, or success. In The Queen of Water, —an SST assigned reading— we learned how Virginia overcame many obstacles and became who she wanted to be.

Considered by some critics as YA, The Queen of Water is an engrossing portrait of determination, grit, and resilience.


Virginia was kinds enough to receive us in her house where she has a counseling office —she is a trained therapist. In the backyard, she also grows Ecuadorian staples like corn. US students grow everywhere though!

In neighboring Peguche, we learned about the creativity and skill it takes to produce textiles and musical instruments.

At El Gran Condor, textile creators revealed the secrets to their craft. Students were NOT caught off guard by the camera, they are just reacting to a faculty’s fine joke.

Otavalo is not shallow!