Up the River and Back Again

Day 5, 6, 7: Visiting the Waorani Nation

In the morning, we left the lodge and took an hour and a half bus ride before a 70 mile canoe trip up the Rio Nushino and Rio Curaya. It took about 7 hours to get to the Waorani community we were visiting. It was long, but peaceful ride. We were in motorized canoe which was really cool! Anna and I were first on a canoe that had a leak, but we switched half way and got to see turtles, blue and gold macaws, and spider monkeys!

When we got to the lodge, we had a candle light dinner, since we didn’t have any electricity! My roommates and I didn’t have any water in the shower and we barely had any in the sink, but luckily some of the other let us use their shower. We just learned to live with the dirt! Then, we headed to bed to get some rest. We could hear the many different sounds of the rainforest at night and it was really soothing. 

At breakfast the next morning, we got to see a toucan! I really wanted to see one this trip and we were super lucky! We also met the family and they told us their Waorani name and their Spanish name. They also gave us Waorani names as an ice breaker. Mine was Menno, which means hummingbird in in Waotega! Waotega is a spoken language, so it is difficult to write. We learned that  the grandparents had grown up before contact, and you could tell a bit in their body language, but they were still very nice and friendly. 

Then, we went further up the river and went on a short hike. Lucky for us, the man in front of us had a machete so we had a clear path to follow. We got to try swinging across a part of the river! And then, we learned how they use the vines to swing from tree to tree so that jaguars don’t catch their scent when hunting. It was really impressive and they could get so high into the trees. It was also really cool how they used leaves to protect their hands when sliding down. 

After lunch, we headed to the community where the family we visited lives. There, we learned how to use a blow dart and throw a spear! The darts weren’t poisoned tipped, which was good and I was definitely more successful with the blow dart than the spear. After that, we got our faces painted with traditional designs for either men or women with what they call Pites Oriana, which is a fruit of a native plant. Then, we went to play soccer! It was really cool to see that we could all find a commonality in this sport even though there are many barriers between us. They were better than I was, but it was still a lot of fun. They also had Macaws that we could hold which was really cool!

After getting to purchase some of their artwork, we went back to camp in the canoe for dinner and then headed back for some more fun! The ride to their house was so cool. In the dark, we could see so many stars, since there was no light pollution. They greeted us with a traditional welcome dance that they would welcome their relatives with. They allows us to join in and I felt so honored to get to experience it! Then, we sung them a few songs that we knew like Sweet Caroline, the Pitt version of course! 

After that, we all danced together. The music was a different from what I am used to, but I would follow the beat and I had some good dance partners! I had so much fun that when it was time to leave, I wanted to stay. We said our goodbyes and went back for our last night before heading back to Iyrina on a not so sunny canoe ride.

More Later!


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