Indigenous Birthday Bash

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Over the past few days, we got a chance to get to know indigenous people from the Waorani Tribe. We arrived on Thursday by canoe on the Mushuni River, which took 3 hours! It wasn’t the most comfortable sitting in a rocking canoe, getting poured on by rain, or hitting every stick in the water, but we managed to pass the time with Skip’s astonishingly accurate bird descriptions. When we arrived, we were greeted with their red tribe markings being placed on our head and one on each cheek. We even got to see a rare bird, a trumpeter! They had been keeping it as a pet and the children were picking it up.

Trumpeter

Later into the night, we all got a chance to shoot the tribe’s blow gun. It was about 10 feet in length and they said it takes months to make one out of natural material! Everyone took their turns blowing into the gun to try to hit a banana that was about 20 yards away. I was the only one to hit the banana, including all of the indigenous people who use the weapon to hunt monkeys and birds. After all the laughs, they rewarded me with a Waorani headdress, which is used to signify friendship. \

Blow Gun

The next day we woke up for a hike through the rainforest to go to a waterfall. We started by climbing a steep mountain that was more like a mudslide. Brooke even got sucked into the mud and it took 5 minutes to get her out! When we reached the summit, the head woman of the tribe helped the girls make baskets out of leaves to carry native cacao plants that we found. It was so amazing to get a first hand experience of the ways these indigenous people live. We then started the decline to the waterfall area. Going downhill was far more challenging and the mud began to suck everyone in! When we reached the waterfall everyone got to cool off in the little pool and it was so relaxing. The whole time I got to text-talk with Kevin, an indigenous 17 year old of the tribe. It was amazing to be able to learn so much about each other while using translations to speak! We later exchanged WhatsApp’s to keep in touch!

That night, we got to play native games with the children. The first game was to throw the ball at people to make them the person who throws the ball. Each tree was a safe space where if you were touching it, you couldn’t be hit with the ball. We then played another game called Gamme. This is a game where one team throws a ball at a stack of pieces of banana. Once they hit the stack and knock over the banana pieces, the other team has to try to hit the team who knocked it over with the ball before they can stack the banana pieces back up. It was so fun to watch all the little kids run around and laugh so hard! 

We then woke up on Saturday and left early in the morning. It was my birthday, and Kevin presented me with a Waorani spear and bracelet! This was such an awesome gift and made it so much harder to say goodbye to everyone. On our way back, the water was very shallow and we were going against the current which made for a very long, bumpy four-hour canoe trip. We finally arrived back at the lodge we have been staying at and I was surprised with a massive chocolate cake! It was so awesome to get to spend my birthday in the Amazon rainforest!

KEVIN

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