One week immersion in the Sarayaku community

Some facts : 1200 persons, living 60 km from the closest road in the Amazonian rainforest, transport is by canoe (river of max 1,5 m deep) or by Cessna plane, no telephone connection, limited internet around the school, …

They are renown for having fought in a nonviolent but very persistent way the Ecuadorian government and the many foreign oil companies for systematically not allowing oil exploitation on their grounds, while the Ecuadorian government made so much debts that it thinks it can only pay it back by giving their virgin rainforest over to crude oil exploitation. Government used all intimidation techniques and violence in order to force it’s will, but finally was ruled by the interamerican human rights courts for having violated the rights of the indigeneous people. A good 10 minutes English video resuming this story is given here

We were honored to stay there for a week.

Going to Sarayaku

We and our English-Spanish-Quechua speaking  guide, Ricardo. The only way to get there is by 5 hours of canoe (some places maximum 1m deep) or by plane (25 minutes) to cover the 50km distance from the nearest road.

The family where we lived

We lived on a wooden open platform 1 level high from the ground, which was Patricia’s house. We used the inner of a tent to protect us (poor gringo’s) from mosquito troubles during the night. We had a shower and a toilet, specially built for visiting foreigners. Sometimes we used separate spots in a nearby river, which is much more comfortable.

La selva : the rainforest

Trekking to their special Chakra (garden/forest-field) for medicinal plants and meeting of the biggest tree of the forest, estimated 800 years old.

Morning tea and other magical cocktails

Every morning at 6.00 am, wayusa tea was prepared (mostly by Dona Carina, the elder of the group). It is strong in cafeine and gives a good boost for the day. People passed by and talk about their dreams during the night, about what they are going to do during the day, all in a very relaxed way. I didn’t know that feeling and God knows I missed it till now.

Other is the preparation of the Ayahuasca drink by Don Sabino (93 year old shaman of the Sarayaku) and Juan, one of his sons. They are allowed to make it for their ceremonies and it is then not marked as a drug, although it has hallicunatory effects. The product boils for many hours. We later participated to the ceremony, that took a whole evening till 24 hours at night.

Men are hunting, women doing ceramic 😊

The festival of Sarayaku

Much can be said about their (originally yearly) 3-yearly festival. It is an amazing combination of community life (preparation : 14 days of continuous activity by the whole community), party and dance, play and celebration, tradition and modernism.

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