I spent 10 days as a volunteer in the village of Nizag during July of 2010. My goals in deciding to live and work with this community were to force myself to practice my Spanish through immersion and to experience Ecuador from a more authentic perspective than my Lonely Planet tour guide would allow me. At the same time, I wanted to reciprocate this favor to the native people of Ecuador.
I spent each day with a different person or family, exploring the Nizag culture and community and participating in the daily chores. The people of this remote village nestled in the Andes are as welcoming, generous, hard-working, and good-eaters as they come. They literally grow everything that they eat, with the exception of sugar, salt, and cooking oil, and are so proud and eager to share everything they have with you, from the heaping platefuls of rice and choclo to their melodic kichwa language.
I would absolutely recommend this experience to anyone looking to get to know this country on a more intimate level. Despite the Nizag lifestyle being remarkably different from that which I knew in the states, I was still comfortably housed with my bedroom, bathroom, and hot shower in their Casa del Tourismo. The single disappointment in my Nizag experience was that I was hoping to contribute to the community by teaching English, but because it was the cosecha (harvest), the villagers were too busy to fit lessons into their day. You might look into this if you hope to give back in this way.