La Selva- an adventure like no other

From May 31, 2008

After the “big decent” from our time in Quilotoa, we boarded another bus on our first time east of Quito, to the Orient of Ecuador- the jungle! We traveled for 9 hours, from dawn ’til dark and finally arrived at our hostel, La Mission, where we had what felt like a first class experience. There was an amazing pool with a really fun water slide and spider monkey’s everywhere were kept as pets.

the view from our hostal

the view from our hostel

The monkeys LOVED Rachels backpack!

The monkeys LOVED Rachel’s backpack!

and they learned pretty quickly that Mary was in charge of the food bag that day!

and they learned pretty quickly that Mary was in charge of the food bag that day!

After playing with the monkeys all morning, we boarded a fast canoe to take us along the Napo River and into the heart of the El Pilche community, where we would be working at a school the following day.

Here are some photos of the boat ride:

walking down to the boat

walking down to the boat

mystery fruit

mystery fruit

high water along the napo

high water along the napo

saying goodbye to some boat friends, who we meet again tomorrow at the school

saying goodbye to some boat friends, who we meet again tomorrow at the school

After the boat ride, we walk for about 15 minutes to the other side of this bank to get to the lake where we met another set of canoes who take us to the lodge:

the walk to la selva

the walk to la selva

Jesse and Mary, with Leslie at the front, on the canoe ride through to La Selva

Jesse and Mary, with Leslie at the front, on the canoe ride through to La Selva

Finally, we made it to the beautiful La Selva Jungle Lodge!

The Beautiful Lodge

The Beautiful Lodge

We were greeted with an amazing spread of delicious foods and didn’t stop eating amazing foods for as long as we were there! Soon after our arrival, we met our guide, Rodrigo, who took us immediately on a hike through the forest and on another canoe ride to a place where he *I’m not kidding* CLIMBED UP A TREE TO POKE A SLOTH WITH A STICK SO THAT IT WOULD MOVE AND WE COULD SEE IT- I knew right then, this was going to be an adventure like no other!

zoom in!

zoom in

the trees Rodrigo climbed to poke the sloth

the trees Rodrigo climbed to poke the sloth

We talk about Rodrigo’s climb in the play, “Flight 360″, and people may have doubted the reality of that story- but it was true! Every word.

The play also talked about our adventure with the El Pilche community school. We were originally brought in to help the community in a medical area, that’s what they so desperately needed. The WMN foundation, which supports the community through the help of La Selva Jungle Lodge, asked us to bring supplies for the village, as they live 2 hours down river from the nearest town, Coca. We collected 237 toothbrushes thanks to Dr. Simon Rosenburg and his gracious staff for dumping one of their drawers full of toothbrush give-aways into our DAT tote bag!

We arrived in the El Pilche community full of questions- how are we going to make this workshop work?

We only have one day to:

-share a hygiene play we created to teach the kids how to brush their teeth.

-send all 100 children into the medical clinic to get measured for future doctor visits.

-uh… do our normal workshops?

How were we going to accomplish all of that? Well, Jesse, our director, came up with a great plan. We were armed, we were ready… then our Meir presence made the plan not executable. Everyone wanted to come see what these crazy visitors were up to! It was mass chaos- we did the play twice because some kids came and more came later, we tried to workshop our normal exercises, but it became too difficult with the age group because we had kids from 3/4 all the way up to 16. Luckily, the most important task was complete- all 62 of the children present, including the babies, were seen by Carmen (leader of the WMN foundation and our guide and supporter) Leslie and Lydia (who helped in the clinic) and now all 62 children have the beginnings of a medical chart.

For this fact, and because the kids are just so darn cute, we will be traveling back to La Selva with the ACTion:Ecuador next year with the students. We hope to continue the work we started with the community on an artistic and a health level, bringing supplies (and hopefully a doctor) as well as getting to know the children and learning from them.

Here are some photos of our crazy day at La Selva:

Carmen applies toothpaste so the kids can brush their teeth

Carmen applies toothpaste so the kids can brush their teeth

"What 'cha writin' Leslie?"

What ‘cha writin’ Leslie?

Leslie tells the best stories

Leslie tells the best stories

Lydia shows the kids how to brush

Lydia watches the kids brush

Jesse leads a warm-up

Jesse leads a warm-up

Mary and Jesse pow-wow *this isn't working, we have to adapt*

Mary and Jesse pow-wow *this isn’t working, we have to adapt”

Rachel checks on Lydia and Leslie working in the clinic

Rachel checks on Lydia and Leslie working in the clinic

Mary fills up her water bottle in front of an interested audience

Mary fills up her water bottle in front of an interested audience

(

Jaime was really friendly, but she didn’t want to come home with us :

Jeremy spotted an anacanda!  (but don't tell Rachel!  ~It was only a branch Rach!~)

Jeremy spotted an anaconda! (but don’t tell Rachel! ~It was only a branch Rach!~)

Group Shot- with a lot, but not all, of the attendies

Group Shot- with a lot, but not all, of the attendees

A thank you to Dr. Simon Rosenberg for all his support

A thank you to Dr. Simon Rosenberg for all his support

Dr. Simon Rosenberg

After our amazing day with the El Pilche community we went back to La Selva Jungle Lodge for another day of exploring in the jungle. Our guide, Rodrigo, grew up in this area and was a great resource for our play, what were the issues facing this part of the country. One underlying theme reoccurred here- emigration. The people are leaving, they are finding their way to bigger cities where they can make money, and in the process, they are losing their unique skills.

Rodrigo had skillful eyes, he could see things in the jungle and point them out to us.

He taught us to climb trees

He taught us to climb trees

Found crazy bugs to show us

Found crazy animals to show us

Gave us crazy tattoos with a piece of fruit

Gave us crazy tattoos with a piece of fruit

Took us pirana fishing

Took us piranha fishing

And we got to eat pirana for lunch!

And we got to eat piranha for lunch!

We had such an amazing time in the jungle, and we really can’t thank La Selva Jungle Lodge enough for all of their support and guidance. They gave us an opportunity to travel to a place that seemed unreachable, helped us reach communities in a way that seemed impossible and was only possible because of their support. We can never thank them enough for giving us a chance to open our eyes to this unique community.

DAT will return to La Selva in June and July of 2009 with ACTion:Ecuador, the student project. If you’re interested in the La Selva portion of that trip, click here.

Contact DAT