Wednesday, August 10, 2011

August 10 - Day 5

Camping was okay – but a wake up call at 350AM is not!  UGH…..  But we all got up and walked back to the Sua house for our Guayusa ceremony.  The Achuar ‘s believe that each night you die and in the morning you participate in the cleansing and rebirth, they typically rise at this hour to drink guayusa, a caffeinated tea grown in the forest. It is during this time when fathers pass on values to their children, mothers teach skills to their daughters and dreams are interpreted.   As I mentioned, the Achuar’s are a dream-based culture, every aspect of their daily lives is lived through the interpretation of their dreams. 
So we entered the dark hut lit only by a couple candles, the leader is making a crown and the wife is painting clay bowls for her family to use or to sell.  There is this large hot pot of this tea “guayusa” and we drank as much as we could possibly hold until we excused ourselves to the outside where we threw up to cleanse ourselves, a rebirth of new energy if you may.  We then returned and the wife offers us – yes more Chicha. . . . as a part of this formal ritual the leader explains our dreams to us.  This was followed by the women learning how the women paint the bowls and other handiwork they do as the master showed the men how to weave baskets.  They take about 5 strands of hair and attach to a stick for their very fine paint brushes, need a thicker paint brush, she uses more hair!  This is quite the job and she does beautiful work.  We did try our luck at painting the straight line.  Just after sunrise we depart for our campsite and our return journey to Kapawi.  Back at the lodge we eat breakfast with the general manager as he explains the updates that the Ecolodge has made over the past 6 months from the 1st visit from the Rainforest Alliance.  1030AM and it is departure time from the lodge.  We have our last look at the lodge (and little did we know our luggage too) as we set off in our canoe for a 30 minute ride to the airstrip this is where we met up with our 6th traveling companion as she arrives from Quito.  We board our 9 passenger plane for our next flight for Huaorani Ecolodge this is only the 2nd time this 1 hour & 45 minute flight has been made (the first time was in February 2011).  Typically you will depart Kapawi and return to Shell but not us we flew to Bameno Airstrip!  After a nice greeting by the Huaorani people we realized that 3 of the now 6 people traveling did not have their luggage, it was now camping at Kapawi.  It is not like there are other flights traveling as I said this is only the 2nd time this flight has happened and we are in the middle of the Amazon jungle.  So fortunately my in country partner, Maria from Latin Roots, was traveling with us and she suggested that Kapawi send the luggage to Shell on the next flight and we would have someone from Napo Wildlife Lodge pick up the luggage and take to their lodge where we will be staying in 3 days.  So, this was just something else to add to our adventure.  We laughed it off and got ready to STINK for the next couple days!  The other 3 people traveling with us said they would not change either until we all could.  Now that is sticking together – or stinking together – not sure which!!!
Okay so we have arrived by plane to a grass airstrip at Bameno Airstrip - From the airstrip we poled downstream in dugout canoes along the Shiripuno River to the lodge which was about 30 minutes.  We have finally arrived at Huaorani Ecolodge.  Huaorani Ecolodge is located in the Waorani territory is designed to provide an intimate, harmonious and environmentally sustainable experience.  Staying at the lodge is way to share time with the Huaorani and experience the richness of their natural environment, while creating the least possible impact on the surroundings, keeping in mind that you are within the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve.  The lodge is cozy and provides accommodations for a maximum of ten people housed in five comfortable, traditionally built, palm thatched cabins.  All cabins are fully meshed to keep you safe from biting insects, and are spaced to provide privacy and a chance to enjoy the sounds of the balmy Amazon nights.   We had a nice lunch, an introductory briefing about the Huaorani and their relationship with the rainforest - checked out the cabins and decided a nice hike is in order for the afternoon early evening.  Our word here is Waponi, this means beautiful, everything in balance – it is also a traditional greeting of the Huaorani tribes.  We found again that many of the trees and plants can be used for medicinal purposes.  We found tree bark for shampoo, monkey brush, plant they used to use for a toothbrush so we had our hygiene covered.  We also ate lemon ants and yes they did have the lemon tang to it.  We also learned how to use the blow gun and throw a spear – no animal need worry about me in the forest.  We got vines to make crowns when we return to the lodge.  We made it back to the lodge just after sunset and I was hot and sweaty so I took a cold shower and felt a bit better.  We were lucky enough to meet with Moi Enomenga.  Moi has gained a measure of fame for his feature roles in "New Yorker" articles describing the Huaorani and their struggle against the oil companies, for being the main character in the book "Savages" by Joe Kane, and for playing a prominent role in an NBC documentary telling of his struggle to protect Huaorani land from oil companies. Moi's community, Quehueri'ono, is our counterpart in this joint venture. Moi believes that ecotourism is a means by which his people can receive an income while maintaining the integrity of Huaorani culture and conserving their rainforest territory, thus enhancing the sustainability of their lifestyles and cultures and encouraging their efforts to resist the more destructive initiatives of the oil industry.  Moi received the National Geographic Society / Buffett 2011 for conservation in Latin America.  Enomenga's tireless campaign to protect the land helped the Huaorani secure legal title to Yasuní National Park, the largest indigenous territory in Ecuador and a U.N. biosphere reserve.  After visiting with him a bit we worked on making our crowns and then had dinner.  We listened to some wonderful stories about the Huaorani people from our guide Javier until it was so late we had to go to bed, after all it was a VERY early morning for us and lots of miles of traveling.  Tomorrow we have a long ride in the dugout canoe to our campsite. . .

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