National Paro & Tena, Napo Province

In our last week of study several students including Nina and myself came down with covid, so unfortunately we had to navigate some significant adjustments in our final week with Quito host families, which included moving spanish classes to zoom, at-home final essays and a virtual despedida goodbye party and program for our families.

Feeling healthy, we arrived as a full group last Sunday here to the city of Tena in the amazon basin about 4 hours southeast of Quito. We continued programming as usual and had many excellent days, all while monitoring the growing momentum in national political protests particularly around Quito.  Due to the fact that Ecuador is a small country and has few major highways throughout the country, an effective non-violent protest strategy often used by indigenous political organizations is to organize road closures to paralyze movement and freeze the economy in order to force a dialog with government officials. As the situation continued to progress and we continued hearing of increasing road closures last week, we decided to stay in Tena and not continue on to Baños. Later we decided additionally to postpone our departures for service placements. This semester we’ve spent a lot of time discussing indigenous peoples and cultures historically and now here in Ecuador and this week’s experience has been an interesting example for us all of the reality of current day politics and challenges.

We continue to be in Tena waiting for the political situation to gain stability and for roads to be reopened. Fortunately, Tena is a beautiful and safe place to be and we’re glad we can all just be together during this time and navigate the situation as a group. In the gallery below I’ll attach photos of our last couple of weeks. Today (Monday) is a free day, this morning several students are off hiking with Eric and Maila, others headed to a local gym and there are a few students still around here reading and resting in the hammocks upstairs. We’re currently staying at Hostal Pakay in Tena. Even though it’s not what we expected, we are safe and healthy and enjoying our time here together.

We’d ask for prayer for the Ecuadorian people that the situation can resolve amicably and for the prosperity of all, as we recognize the nuance that is required for an agreement to be reached between the complex priorities of CONAIE and the Federal government.