Long live Otavalo, long live Yamor!


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It is one of the most important celebrations in the province of Imbabura. End August and beginning of September, the corn harvest ends and the native cultures have long celebrated the event. During the holiday the spotlight is certainly on the food, a true Ecuadorian “Thanksgiving” that brings together the classics of the area (empanadas, hominy, sun-baked beef) and the obligatory accompaniment: the yamor.

According to certain etimologists, the word “yak” means wise and the word “mur” means grain. That is why the beverage we call “chicha del yamor” is considered ‘the drink of wisdom’. Since the 1950s, different generations prepare the recipe, preserving secrets of ancient times. It is a ceremonial tribute to the Otavalo family, a people that come together to share the bounties of their land, respecting natural agricultural cycles.

The beverage is made of different varieties of corn (seven, according to the most common recipe). You must soak the white corn to be fermented and combine it with other species: chulpi, morocho, black corn, yellow corn, dried and crushed canguil corn, which is all boiled to create a thick and totally unique beverage.

Those who know how to prepare it will tell you that you must boil the grains for approximately 12 hours. After this time, the drink begins to acquire its characteristic yellow color. At this point the liquid is known as ‘flower’ and is indicative that it is ready to sift and be transferred into wooden barrels where it will begin to ferment, taking even more time to reach drinking status.

Yamor is finally sweetened with panela sugar and is ready to share with friends and family, and people from all over the world present at this Otavalo celebration. Everywhere people are seen tasting the drink, perhaps without knowing the story and preparation it entails. What no one will be able to elude is what lies ahead: an Ecuadorian Andes feast of feast.

Yamor is usually a 10-day celebration featuring a series of cultural events, parades, sporting events, art exhibits, serenades, typical food, popular fairs, among other things, an array of activities for all tastes. Throughout Otvalalo, there are plenty of reasons to visit this beautiful city, cradle of traditions that, like this, unite locals and visitors. Long live Otavalo, long live the And love!

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