Director of Service-Learning
Office of Service-Learning
4200 54th Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Ecuador: Spring Break 09
We traveled by bus from Quito to Puyo and then to the Arutam reserve, where we worked and lived with the Shuar, an indigenous community. We arrived late at night. As we got off the bus we were welcomed by the Shuar in their traditional garb. The next morning we were initiated as "little warriors" and our faces were painted by Enrique and Rodrigo, whom we established close friendships with during our adventure.
The indigenous organization, Fundecoipa, is primarily concerned with the sustainable development of the Shuar community and the protection of the Amazon rainforest. We worked on several development projects; we built a path out of rocks, and a kitchen with wood that we carried down from the forest on several hikes. The work was physically challenging and extremely rewarding.
We worked hard, and we also learned a lot. We went on long hikes through the forest. The Shuar shared stories of their ancestors and anacondas. At the farewell ceremony we were taught the traditional Shuar dances, and we learned about medicinal plants. Our service trip to the Amazon in Ecuador was a life changing experience for all of us. None of us will ever forget the plantains, the mosquito nets, the watering hole, the mud that was impossible to get away from, the friendships; and most of all the spirit of the jungle, Arutam.