Home > Ecuador > A unique cultural experience on Ecuador’s Amazon region, Part one

A unique cultural experience on Ecuador’s Amazon region, Part one

December 6, 2011

An intense equatorial light filters through the wood and bamboo-lined windows of the small jungle lodge along the shores of Lake Limoncocha, meaning “Lake of Lemons”; on Ecuador’s north-central Amazon region. I pleasantly wake up to a concert of bird songs and sounds, which fill the air at sunrise….  The lodge was built and is entirely ran by the local Kichwa community, within an initiative to enhance a new tourism modality, where the local communities fully run their own tourism enterprises, while upgrading the cultural experiences of the travelers as an ideal complement to the already stunning and richly varied natural environments of the magnificent rainforest.
The cabins are small but clean and mosquito nettings are provided, just in case. Shower and bathroom facilities are communal.  As I make my way to the shower, I meet a Spanish family from Madrid, father, mother and two children, with whom I had shared a pleasant conversation over diner, the previous evening. They are feeling as cheerful as I am, as we all march towards the showers’ area.  Looking at the large and imposing Lake, one of Ecuador’s Natural Protected Areas, the Biological Reserve of Limoncocha, under the early morning light, is a rewarding experience by itself.  Meanwhile, the forest, with its myriad trees, luxuriant vegetation and millions of winged or non-winged creatures teems with life and color. A real good start for a day filled with unique natural and cultural experiences.
Next is breakfast, graciously served by the Kichwa women, who have prepared for us freshly squeezed grapefruit juice; delicious green plantain patties, lemongrass tea from the lodge’s own garden and a bowl of chopped fruits, including papaya and bananas, all from the area. As I praise the ladies for their good cooking, they tell me, with their natural innocence and a charming touch of shyness, that they feel a bit “gastronomically weak” in terms of preparing deserts and they ask if some specialized training could be found for them.  I promise to help them on this endeavor.
The luminosity increases as the morning progresses, on another sunny day in the mighty Amazon Rainforest, right at the Equator.  The intense blue sky makes a great contrast with the dozens of green color tones of the jungle’s vegetation.  We set off on a hike along a nature trail, to observe dozens of species of birds; hundreds of leaf-cutter ants, busily carrying small leaves on endless and perfectly organized lines.   Two graceful “wooley” monkeys show up and perform a live show of their funny antics, apparently just to amuse themselves and, who knows if willingly or not, amuse us too…. Guillermo is our native Kichwa guide and he explains with passion the intricate yet fascinating networking of the rainforest inhabitants and their surrounding elements: air, sun, rain, earth, soil, wind, fire….. He also tells us about the millenary history of his ancestors and the rich cultural elements which they boast…
The loop trail brings us back to the lodge where I part from the Spanish family, as they are headed in a different direction than I.  Taking one last look at the sparkling blue Limoncocha  Lagoon and checking out for some colorful tanagers, busily flying among the dense vegetation, I say goodbye to the staff and I meet my new guide and host, Wilmer, a member of the Secoya nationality, one of Ecuador’s seventeen unique and fascinating ethnic groups, who will take me on a private visit to the Secoyas’s territory, along the shores of the Aguarico River, bordering the Cuayabeno Fauna Reserve, one more fantastic experience yet to be lived…. But, I will tell you about the continuation of this voyage, on the next issue….. Not to be missed…….

                                                                  T  H  E    E  N  D    O  F    P  A  R  T    O  N E

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