I went to the Jungle. And Loved it.
As a teacher I get this wonderful thing classed March Break. This year I went on a trip with my dad and sister. We went to Ecuador and more specifically the Amazon. We went with an organization called Me to We. And it was actually a fantastic, wonderful, life affirming kind of trip.
The trek there and back was pretty long. Like plane, boat, 4 planes kind of deal. Well over 24 hours. But who cares.
The way the trip worked is most days we would go on a hike before breakfast with our "jungle guide". Our jungle guide was a local Indigenous guy who grew up in the region, and then left for a bit to go to school in the USA. Can you imagine going from the middle of the Amazon to the USA?!? He was so well versed when it came to the jungle. He could point out all the birds and creepy crawlies and critters we saw. Including toucans, monkeys, parrots, baby tarantulas, snakes, alligators, giant spiders and so on. So he would take us on a hike in the morning and we went on some leisurely ones, and then we also just went straight into the jungle. No real path, everyone else would be lost, but he just lead us right through. It was STUNNING. There is no real way to explain it.
Then we would have breakfast. After breakfast we would go up the river to the community we were working in. In that community they were working on building their first bathrooms as well as a communal kitchen for the school. The work Me to We does is called a "Minga", where we work in conjunction with the community and with their needs and wants. We did thinks like gather materials, mix cement, wheelbarrow children around (they liked to sit on top of the sand we were moving), digging holes for the septic tanks, and painting. Mixing cement by hand is the hardest thing by hand I have ever ever done! We also had tons of fun with the community members joking around on some of the hot days.
Then we would take the boat back to our place, have lunch, and then in the afternoons we did some cultural things. We saw some cultural dances, went to a fruit farm, went to a cacao farm, met with local artisan women, met a shaman, learnt how to use blow darts and spears, planted trees, and had a local cooking lesson. It was all fascinating and so so so interesting.
The we would head back for dinner, have dinner and then relax after dinner. Sometimes we would go on a night hike after dinner to see more of the creatures that come out at night.
It was really an awesome trip and I cannot explain it in anyway that does is justice. It reminded me of how lucky we are in North America. I mean we have clean, safe running water in our homes. I know that sounds cheesy, but it is just so easy to want more in our lives, and this experience just reminded me how much we do have and I am so thankful.
If you have not heard of Me to We you should totally check it out. The organization is amazing, and the trip was so well planned and put together. All our facilitators were amazing, and I just felt totally taken care of and couldn't have had a better trip.
Let me know if you have any questions!!