Off the Grid

The 5th day featured something that I never thought I would have done- taking a 6 hour boat ride in the Amazon to see an indigenous tribe. The Ecuadorian bus took us through the forest and over a bridge where we saw the long-motorized canoes that would be taking us on our journey. The boat ride to the tribe was incredible. The sun was beaming down on our boat, as we traveled over the murky waters of the river. The sides of the river consisted of a large amount of foliage and little huts of indigenous communities. The boat consisted of great music, stunning scenery, and a lot of sunburned backs. We saw a lot of wildlife on the trip. The highlight had to be seeing the monkeys climbing in the tree. Once we arrived at the lodge after 6 hours floating on the river, we had a lot of questions. It just seemed like we were dropped off at a random lodge 6 hours away from anything. There was no electricity, and it seemed like we were far away from the tribe. We were greeted by 2 parrots sitting on the ledge. About 30 minutes later some members of the  Waorani tribe met with us at the lodge. They each gave us tribal names. My name was “Boga” I believe which stood for spider monkey. With no electricity and very little water supply, we had to find ways to entertain ourselves. Once darkness hit, I saw the largest moth I have evd\er seen. Its wingspan was about 8-10 inches and it was called the Which Witch Moth. We had to wait to find excitement, but we found it the next day.

The 6th day of our trip started with a trip upstream to a pathway that features some vines that we rode on. I saw pathway loosely because members of the tribe were swinging machetes to cut down the plants as we walked through. One vine swung across a creek, and one swung across a pathway. I successfully swung across the creek but did not exactly stick the landing. After many others were more successful than me on the vine, we watched a member of the tribe climb the vine into a tree it was amazing to see. Later in the afternoon we took a trip downstream to actually meet the tribe. It was an incredible experience. We were once again greeted with parrots which we were able to hold in our hands. The tribe welcomed us with open arms, as they showed us their traditional hunting techniques. The first thing that we tries was a blowgun. This is used to hunt monkeys as the needle that shoots out has a lethal dose of poison once it strikes the monkey. Luckily, we were using needles without the poison, as we attempted to hit our target. Amazingly I hit the bullseye on my first and only try. Next, we attempted a javelin type throw. The grandpa kept on hitting the target, as the rest of us struggled. Amazingly the grandpa was born before that tribe was ever in contact with the outside world. They were discovered in the 1950’s. Afterwards we got out faces painted by the tribe, and we played soccer with them. The soccer was a ton of fun even though all of us got outmatched by them. It seemed like they were enjoying it as much as we were, as this is probably the first time in a while that they played with outsiders. After we were drenched in sweat, we took a dip in the river and headed back to the lodge. Later that night we went back to the tribe. On the river I was greeted with the most amazing night sky I have ever scene. It was real. Constellations were as visible as day and stars of all sizes filled up the night sky. It was nothing like I have ever scene before. What made it even better was the flashes of lightning in the distances that filled up the sky as well. It was a good sign of things to come that night. The tribe opened up with a ritual they do when they welcome visitors. We ended up joining them in the dance, as all of us were trying to figure out what was going on. Afterwards they showed us the music that was popular in their culture, and we showed them the music that was popular in our culture. We sang them Sweet Caroline which was amazing. We then danced for the next 30 minutes, and that was our night.

Day 7 was the day where our surprisingly special experience came to an end. The canoes picked us up at around 8:30. This boat trip was polar opposite of our first ride because it was raining most of the time. Fortuity our boat did not flood as much as the other boats. We were embracing the elements. As our 6 hour journey which surprisingly felt shorter than it was, we found the bridge that signaled the end of our journey. As we waited for our bus, mother nature gave us more rain. Once we got on the bus, we drove to a snack shack that had all the food you can imagine. I tried chicken flavored chips and bacon flavored chips, and they were horrible. I then saw large soda bottles at the back. I whole 45 ounce soda was $1. Man am I going to miss Ecuador prices. This followed by a trip back to the lodge where we relaxed for the rest of the day. I am really fortunate to have been able live this experience over the last 3 days.

Bonus: There is a large bug trying to get into the room I am in right now as I am writing this. I can see it making static charges on the screen of our room. Wild stuff.

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