Last September, Allise traveled to Ecuador. Since she’s the first of us to do so, we demanded a report.
Where in Ecuador, and why?
Sarayaku––an 8-hour canoe trip or 25-minute plane ride from Puyo. Our Ecuadorean friend, Paúl, and his family are active in preserving tribal traditions and art. They also advocate for awareness of the political struggles indigenous people face worldwide. Paúl is building an educational and healing center to help tribal members thrive and keep future generations informed of their heritage. I went there with the goal to help with sustainable building.
Everything in Ecuador circles back to the earth: the art, the spirituality, the food. They have literally everything they need from the Amazonian jungle: yuca, fish, garden vegetables, plantains, and herbs both for cooking and healing. They are completely self-sufficient. Everyone knows the medicinal properties of every plant. I didn’t need any of the Western medicine I brought, because Paúl’s cousin is a medicine man. So inspiring and enlightening.
And now, the Archeo question: tell us about the tribal arts of Ecuador?
The pottery is amazing. It’s made from natural clay and some incorporate a lacquer made from tree sap. We drank Guayusa (a tea) out of the most beautiful vessels. People drink it first thing in the morning and interpret their dreams, as well as dreams they’d like to manifest in the world. Just like the Qashqai in Iran, they use 100% natural materials from their surroundings. There’s also basketry, woven from palm leaves–-similar to the Kuba cloth we carry. But, like so many places, the youth there are moving to cities and abandoning their traditions. That’s what Paúl is working to counter. For information on the village, visit sarayaku.org.