During our last week of the “study” portion of the term, students traveled to several hours east of Quito to explore the upper Amazon basin. We combined several experiential learning activities – both cultural and environmental, based on the region’s unique characteristics – with time for fun! We were excited to have a friend and guide Eric join us for part of the week from Dayuma. This trip helped students apply much of the semester’s academic focus on indigenous rights, sustainability and globalization.
Saturday early afternoon we met at the foundation in north Quito and drove the 4 hours east across the mountains and down into the Amazon basin to the city of Tena.
Eric Camacho was a guide for Nina and I on our trip to Yasuni National park. Eric grew up in Dayuma a few hours northeast of Tena to join the group for our days here. Saturday evning Eric introduced himself and shared a bit about his growing up in the oil town of Dayuma, his life, and education and path to being a wilderness guide. At 23 years old, we thought it was so cool to see students engaging with him in dialog/learning but also genuine friendship.
Sunday morning Eric led us on a jungle hike at the Jatun Satcha Reserve.
As we entered the trail, Eric pointed out bullet ants, one of the most painful stings of the jungle.
It was a slow and hot but interesting hike as Eric stopped to point things out or tell us about how indigenous peoples used different types of plants/trees for a variety of purposes, natural medicinal uses such as the dragon blood tree sap or for construction with the iron palm or communication with the drum tree.
Jackson, with Sasha looking on
Sophia with Simon climbing up
Erica, Richard and Anna
Group picture with other university volunteers who were there helping to take care of the reserve.
Carissa, Celeste and Anna out to dinner on Sunday evening
Sunday evening at the Tena boardwalk
Richard, Carolina and Simon along with others messing around on the pull-up bar at Hostal Pakay.
Breakfast Monday morning
At this point the river was too low for the canoe to pass with the weight of passengers so we all got out for a quick walk 🙂
Eric out in front helping the driver Luis navigate the low spots
Monday morning we took a motorized canoe up the Napo river to Waysa Wasi. This is a group of kichwa indigenous women who run a community tourism project. Inviting people like us to the community to share in a time of learning is one way of preserving cultural traditions and knowledge.
Anna, Celeste and Alexa. The red is from the seeds of plant called chiote. Also used to color food, such as in locro de papa.
Learning about the process to make Chicha, a fermented alcoholic drink made typically from yuca. Here is Sophia mashing the yuka.
Claire helping to strip this long leafed pita plant down to the fibers which were traditionally used for weaving and textiles. It’s interesting to note the differences and similarities in processes between this community and what we saw in Otavalo a couple weeks ago.
Lunch back on the dock
Carissa and Erica enjoying a very typical dish of the amazon called Maito. Sophia looking on
Monday afternoon, with a bridge out, we changed our plans and found a new amazing swimming spot on the Arajuno river.
Smashed in the back seat!
Tuesday we went swimming at the beautiful Laguna Azul. Simon jumping.
Wednesday morning we said goodbye to Eric and then made our way to the city of Baños.
Erica getting a nice push from Skylar and Richard
Skylar and Richar
Andrew and Anna
Claire and Erica
Celeste and Carolina
Thursday morning we visited the Pailón de Diablo waterfall.
Sasha and Celeste
Our hotel in Baños
Natural hot springs!
Friday morning breakfast before making our way back to Quito
Students leave for Service on Saturday the 27th of February.