After quite a few hours of driving, the bus finally dropped us off on the side of the road. There wasn’t much around – a little store, a school, a few houses… We then ventured onto a path leading towards the heart of the jungle. We were feeling kind of disappointed as we walked along this path that was quite a wide path : not quite what we had pictured.
But at the end of this path was the jungle. We entered it and were very impressed by its wildness. We started walking, trying to avoid the very muddy patches, but the path was very narrow. Once we were covered in mud, it was much more comfortable to hike as we were no longer trying to avoid it! We crossed a few rivers and went over some « bridges » (yes, they were generally just a tree trunk and we had to have good balance to get over them !).
After 2 hours of walking through this wild jungle we finally arrived in the Washimak Community. We were greeted, shown to our little house… We went for a natural shower in the river nearby and then for a very welcomed supper in our host's house. So far out in the Amazonian jungle there is no electricity. The houses are all built of wood and have rooves of weaved leaves. When we walked back to our house we went to bed and enjoyed the sounds of the forest. It is amazing hearing all these birds, frogs and other animals after staying in the city for a long time, where all you hear is cars and buses. Also the sky was gorgeous, with so many bright stars.
We got up early and went for breakfast in our host's house. Everybody was already running around and doing their stuff. We had a great breakfast. At every meal we’d also enjoy different infusions of plants picked in the jungle. Our cook was one of the best ! We went out into the jungle after that and help to seed a field of rice. We had a stick each with which we had to make small holes on a straight line. Others would walk behind and put the seeds in the holes. We were ok with making the holes, but seriously, straight lines? Impossible! So in 4 months they will be harvesting a wonky field of rice ! After that we walked back for some lunch. Francisco, who was our guide there, ate with us. But it did feel very weird that we always ate before everybody else.....they’d always eat afterwards. There was not much we could do about that really. In the afternoon we spent some time with the kids. They were so happy to play ball with us and also Justin had brought his slackline with him. So we hung it in between two trees and the kids found a new use for it : jumping up and down on it as it bounced them back up !
The days all followed more or less the same pattern. We walked to the closest « shop » one day : over an hour's walk ! We also learnt how to seed coffee and yuka. Francisco showed us the medicinal plants and trees that they use and that grew around their village.
After a few days it was time to return to Quito. So we walked back the other way for a couple of hours across the dense vegetation, and then jumped on a bus to return.
Although it was a soggy experience due to high humidity and rain, it was a very enjoyable one too. We discovered a new life style, a new culture, met new people. It was well worth spending a few days with muddy feet and damp clothes !
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Written by: Chesca Lonbay