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Iluman

In the shadow of Volcán Imbabura, at an altitude of about 2,600 meters (8,500 feet), is the village of Iluman, home to artisans and healers.

If you’ve noticed felt hats at the markets in Otavalo and want to see how they are produced, Iluman is the place to go. It's located between Otavalo and Ibarra, and you can get there simply by taking a 20-minute bus ride from Otavalo.

In local workshops, wool is transformed into the coveted headgear using a series of irons, presses and molds. The hats are finished with distinctive braided headbands before being shipped off to stores and markets around the country.

The village is also known for the number of spiritual healers residing there (some estimates put the number at more than 200). The healers are often referred to by the Quichua term yachac taitas, or wise fathers.

Visitors who want to undergo healing rituals at the hands of the yachac taitas can do so, but should be prepared to be doused in a spray of alcohol, tobacco smoke and herbs. The rituals are meant to cleanse the recipient spiritually and remove curses - such as the 'evil eye' - more than being used to cure physical diseases (although they're reported to be able to do that too).




Other neighborhoods in Otavalo: Cuicocha Lake, Iruguincho and Around Otavalo.







By Rachael Hanley
A sometime newspaper journalist with a heavy side of wanderlust, Rachael moved to Quito in November to work on the V!VA staff. She is currently...
15 Mar 2013

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