todo es posible en ecuador

La selva tropical: Words cannot even describe how I feel. Enrique (the main Shuar who worked with the volunteers) took us on an introductory hike through the jungle yesterday. Three hours later I came back much more knowledgeable and fearless than I was when I first entered. The Shuars have lived off of the rainforest for over 200 years, and thus have an exponential amount of uses for the jungle's resources. Enrique showed us only about 1/30th of what there is to know - it was so impressive.

With machetes in hand, we entered the unknown. First, he gave me a "present" -- a yelow (seemingly poisonous) spider, that we later found out does not bite. It was huge and vibrant, so naturally my gringa-self originally had fear. Then later down the jungle trail he carved some trimmings off of a thin tree. He put them in his pocket. When we arrived at a muddy stream later, he made us put our hands out in cup form. He got the shavings out of his pocket, got them wet, and squeezed some of its juice into our palms. He then advised us to snort the juice, as it helps cure the flu and stomach aches (we had previously mentioned having weak stomachs). It tingled and made my nose a bit numb, but que loco -- It helped!

He also pointed out the different variations of palm trees, how one's roots can help you stop bleeding, another's roots are good defensive shelters because of their hut-like shape and spikes on the exterior, and how antoher is good for using to construct wood and rope.

To me, the jungle seemed shades of green with a few beautiful red buds intermittently. However, to Enrique, it was a religion. A way of life. The hike was quite inspirational and I look forward to learning more and more about the rainforest as my time here in Arutam develops.


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    Adrienne Hearne

    These are excerpts taken from my summer travel journal. While telling the story of my summer, they also express my different experiences of culture shock, being an individual  living in a collective culture.