1. Where is Pucará?
Pucará is located in the Intag Region, 2 hours west of Otavalo or 4 hours from Quito by bus.
2. How do I get there?
Buses leave regularly for Pucará from the Otavalo’s main bus station everyday from 7:00 am to 15.00 pm.
The trip takes approximately 2 hours on a windy road and costs approximately $2.00.
3. Where will I stay?
You will live with a homestay family. There are no hotels or hostels in Pucará.
4. How much does a homestay cost?
$15.00 a day or $90.00 a week.
5. What’s it like living with a homestay family?
Whilst homes are modest by most western standards, families are welcoming and eager to show you around. The experience transcends the absence of modern luxuries and is one to be cherished for a lifetime.
You will have your own private room and eat with the family.
6. What food can I expect to be served by my homestay family?
The food is simple and nutritous. Breakfast is typically coffee or tea with some combination of bread, eggs, fried tortilla (doughnut) and fruit. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and is usually soup followed by seco (main course) which consists of rice, meat and vegetables and/or beans. Merienda (dinner) is similar to lunch but lighter and usually ends with a cup of herbal tea. Families are open and willing to accommodate those with dietary restrictions. Drinking water is always boiled.
7. What amenities are in town?
There are 2 shops in Pucará that sell beer, soft drinks, candy, biscuits and basic toiletries. There is also an internet cafe open most afternoons in town.
Apuela, the local market town, is 15 minutes away by bus or 40 minutes on foot. You can find hardware stores, bakeries, hairdressers, a basic pharmacy, and restaurants. The fresh food market is held each Sunday. All other supplies will need to be bought in Otavalo, which is 2 hours away by bus.
8. Is there internet, phone and ATM facilities?
Many families have phones where you can make and receive local and national calls. The internet cafe is open daily from 16:00pm to 20:00pm. There are no banks or ATMs. The nearest bank and ATM facilities are in Otavalo.
There is a 24 hour hospital in Apuela that is equipped for most emergencies and travelers illnesses. Medical service is free, with little to no paperwork involved. Occasionally the pharmacies run low on supplies and therefore we recommend that you bring a traveler’s medical kit.
10. What is the weather like?
The rainy season, our winter, generally runs from November to May and the dry season, our summer, runs from June to October. However, in recent years weather patterns have become more unpredictable. In general terms, during the rainy season, it is sunny in the morning and raining the afternoon with small variation in temperature (15-20 degrees Celsius, 59-68 degrees Fahrenheit).
In addition to the normal travellers gear, here is a list of things that are particularly useful:
• Rubber boots, especially useful during the rainy season, can be bought in Otavalo and Apuela for less than $10.00
• Travelers’ first aid and medical kits
• Clothing layers because the temperature varies
• Flashlight or headlamp
• Wet weather gear
• Sunscreen and hat
• Insect repellent & mosquito net
Optional equipment includes swimwear and hiking gear.
12. What if I have problems with my family or Spanish teacher?
You should speak to the Coordinators of the Spanish School who will address the matter, including if necessary organizing a replacement family or teacher. The coordinators are here to support you during your stay in Pucará.
13. What is the capacity of the Spanish school?
The school is a community project that aims to give personalized tuition. One-on-one tuition is preferred and weekly intakes vary between one and four people.
• Volunteer work
• Play with kids and hang out with the locals
• Do your homework
15. Are there any volunteer opportunities with Escuela de Español, Intag?
We are always looking for new long-term volunteer coordinators for the school, for a minimum 2 month commitment. For more information please email us.
16. What are the costs of volunteering ?
The only costs are associated with your homestay and Spanish school tuition fees.
17. How is payment made to instructors and home-stay families?
All payments are made in cash. Payment for Spanish lessons is made to the coordinator, while homestay payments are made direct to the respective family.
18. Do you have relationships with any other schools?
We have affiliations with schools in Baños and Otavalo.
19. Is the only road out of Pucará via Otavalo?
Yes, it is possible to get to Quito, Mindo or to the coast of Ecuador without returning through Otavalo. Take the bus from Pucará to Plan de Luisa, through Garcia Moreno. From here, get to Chontal by truck or motorbike. From Chontal there are regular services to Quito.