The people across Ecuador have blown me away. We have had a really unique opportunity to be able to stay in all three regions of the country and to meet tons of people along the way. We started our trip by seeing large family gatherings in Quito for Mother’s Day. When we relocated to the Iyarina Lodge, we saw an entire extended family working together to create the best experience for us. Our next stop was with the Waorani. That community stood out to me because they were incredibly hard workers, very welcoming of us, and they never stopped laughing. Yesterday, we started our trip to the coast where we saw probably our most impactful community moment yet.
On our way to the airport yesterday, we encountered a large mudslide. This caused our bus to be halted for over an hour. During that time we watched a community come together to solve a problem. People were walking down the streets with shovels, rakes, and other farming equipment ready to scoop away mud and rocks. One man was even so brave to use his car to try to create a path for other cars by inching forwards and backwards over and over. He inevitably got stuck in the mud. Others brought ropes to try to pull his car out with others. Eventually, a local farmer in a bulldozer came to the rescue. He pulled the car out of the mud and then with the guidance of other locals, he cleared the zone so that cars could get through. It was really impactful to see this community come together so quickly because I don’t feel that this would happen in the States.
As a group, we were all so inspired by the different communities that we met here. When we gave our final presentations, every single group mentioned incorporating natives into the business, giving them a voice, and supporting the indigenous communities in any way possible. I thought this was very special because we spent such a short amount of time with each of the groups that we talked about, yet we felt so strongly about supporting them. When I am back in the US, I will try harder to be like the Ecuadorians I met and do more to support my community because I have seen how much good can come from doing so.