We began our morning bright and early so that we could get to the Waorani nation before dark! It was a long day of travel, starting with an 8am bus ride into the Amazon rainforest. Then, we got onto gas powered canoes that would take us on the river into Waorani territory. Maddie, George, Riya, John, Rick, and I got the smaller canoe, and we definitely made the best of it! The views were absolutely breathtaking. I didn’t have service or wifi to go on my phone, but I also didn’t feel the need to look at anything but the trees and blue skies around us. The canoe ride was about 6 hours, but it honestly flew by.
We finally arrived at our home for the next few days, a rainforest lodge right across the river from a Waorani tribe that we would be spending the next 48 hours with. We were greeted by 2 adorable macaws, and we all ate our first candlelight dinner together! Even though we did not have power, cell service, or a lot of water, we still got an amazing night of sleep in the rainforest! It was so peaceful to be able to listen to the sounds of the rain. Although the rain was great for our sleep, we were excited for it to turn into sunny sky so that we could have our first adventure! We took the canoes down the river and made our way through the lush green plants until we reached some vines hanging near the river. We got to swing on the vines across the river, and use them to go from tree to tree like many of those who inhabit the rainforest do in order to avoid leaving their scent on the ground for jaguars to follow!
It was so much fun, and I loved having the opportunity to swing across the river first because I had no idea what to expect!
We headed back for lunch, and then across the river once again to spend our afternoon with the tribe! I was given the name “Dipa” which is a warrior woman from Waorani culture. They gave us “welcome paint” on our faces from the natural dye of a fruit and we got the opportunity to try shooting a blow dart and throwing a spear. We got to play soccer and cool off in the river afterwards, which was so much fun!
We left for dinner, and returned to see a traditional welcome dance. We enjoyed getting to share both of our cultures with one another by playing some songs from the US! I chose “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift, and we sung Sweet Caroline (H2P of course!). We all danced together and it was amazing to see how dancing is a universal language. Even if we could not find the right words to communicate with one another, we were all able to connect by dancing with one another!
We ended the night on a canoe ride back in the complete darkness, it was great to be able to see the stars so clearly! The next morning, we got back on the canoes for another long trip to return to the Iyarina lodge. This time, the weather was very very rainy (we are in the rainforest after all!) but we made the best of it and ended up having fun in the rain!