"You are the first person to ever visit us from a different country," said one of the village elders of Wichim, a Achuar village deep in the Amazon Rain Forest of Ecuador.
The village of Wichim is on the far end of the Achaur territory in eastern Ecuador, this meant they just don't get visitors except for government officials.
"We are so happy you have come!"
The Achuar Education Director took me to Wichmi to introduce me to their school. The project to take school materials had been so successful, they hoped to expand it to more communities.
At the end of the visit, the village teacher presented me with a list of school materials they need. I made the promise to do my best and return in November.
Next I returned to the Achaur village Tinkias.
As I walked down the path through the jungle, distant voices of children shouted at me through the dense vegetation.
"Yatzoro Dean! Yatzoro Dean!" They repeated several times. Apparently the word had spread in the village I was returning for a visit.
I never saw the smiling faces of those who were shouting my name, it didn't matter, it made my heart smile.
Himee, one of the leaders in the Achuar village of Tinkias presents me with a drum made from monkey skin. Drums are used during ceremonies to create music.
Inside the school is a bulletin board filled with photos, many were photos taken by me and brought to them from previous visits. The bottom center photo is a composite photo I made, showing students from Highland Elementary in Colorado, Ross Elementary in Pennsylvania, Collet Park Elementary in New Mexico, and Johnson Crossing in Fremont NE holding signs that say; "We stand of the Achuar!"
WE are way more connected then we realize!
When we stand together, it will have a positive impact!
This trip into the Amazon Rain Forest also included a trip to visit the Sapara. Follow this link to learn more about them.
The Sapara took me into the rain forest to teach me what they know about the plants and animals.
Our campsite was pretty roustic. We bathed in the river each day, I loved it!
The Sapara treated us like family, and they fed us like family, which included tasty grubs.
Members of the Sapara dance in their home, deep in the Amazon Rain Forest of Ecuador.
A week after we left the Sapara I was speaking with our guide Cristina Serrano about our journey. She shared with me the following story.
Serrano said; "Manari told me they found footprints in the forest next to our campsite. Apparently we were watched by an un-contacted tribe who were curious about the white people sleeping in the forest."
Wow, that is so cool. To be that close to a group of people who have had no contact, ever, with the outside world. I wondered what they thought about the people watched, what their hopes and dreams are, and what it will mean to their way of life if the oil companies destroy the forest.