Once I was working in the Cotopaxi mountains of Ecuador, in the Andes.

At nearly 6,000 ft, it was one of the highest in the country.

It was also an active volcano.

There, I met a family living just as their ancestors had lived for 1,000 years...

/ (thread) /
We were visiting an Andean tribe, documenting how they raised goats for wool.

The Cotopaxi is called a "Sacred Mountain" by the locals, the water from the glacier at the top feeds the village's crops every year.

But sometimes the volcano erupts...
Though not a large eruption by historical standards, a recent eruption a year or so before had caused the summer glaciers to melt...

...and that flooded their farmland, and meant their goat herds died...

But the villagers at Cotopaxi got lucky...someone gave them new goats...!
I asked where the fresh goats had come from.

They said, "Familia, familia."

I did not understand.

How could their family give them new goats, if everyone in the village lost all their goats?
"Otra familia!" They said, and pointed at another mountain, hundreds of miles away.

It turned out...the Andean villagers called everyone who lived this lifestyle, farming and herding goats in the mountains, to be their "family"...
When other more distant villages heard of the devastation from the volcano...

...they journeyed from hundreds of miles around...

...literally hiking over some of the highest mountains in the world....

...To bring goats to the village. For free...
...Because all the tribes living in that part of the Andes considered everyone to be "Otra Familia"...

Everyone, everywhere was either "Family", or "Other Family".

It was all one big family, across thousands of miles.

And if family needed help...they got it.

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