The Amazon

We started our morning early getting ready for an exciting adventure into the Ecuadorian jungle. During our tour, we had the opportunity to learn about a lot of animals and plants and their relationship with the ecosystems they belong to from our knowledgable tour guide, Joel.

In the jungle, these plants and animals compete for limited resources such as nutrients, sun, and water. The trees and plants use different techniques to get light; some of them grow faster than others, some reach higher altitudes, and some, such as the walking palm, move half a meter towards the light per year. We noticed something curious about the roots of these trees, all of them were covered with thorns. Joel told us that the tribes use these roots as graters to cook! At the end of the tour, we saw a tree called the Python. This tree is very important because it’s not only a good shelter for animals, but the locals use it as a muscle relaxant. Many pregnant women do not go to the hospital to give birth, they take a shot made with the leaves of this tree, and that helps them relax during labour.

Many of us had heard incredible stories about the animals, plants, and tribes that live in the Amazon but being in contact with all of this was a breathtaking experience. We had the opportunity to connect with nature and observed the animals in their natural habitat. We learnt the traditions and knowledge of millenary cultures. Now I understand why these cultures believe a lot in the energy and power of nature; these people are connected and aware of the wonders of nature because they lived all their life surrounded by it. Shamans, for example, are people who are able to cure diseases only using plants and herbs. This is an ancient practice in Ecuador, according to their belief a person can get sick by absorbing bad energies and the shamans are responsible for cleaning these bad energies. We finished our tour surprised by the jungle and with new knowledge about our planet.

But our day was not over yet; we visited an animal sanctuary, Amazoonico, where their mission is to rescue and dehumanize animals that have been mistreated. The jungle and its wildlife are fascinating, but humans can end up causing a lot of damage if they are not aware of their actions. One of the saddest cases was Michael, a Capuchin monkey who had been trained to act and be close to humans. Since Michael never learned how to defend himself, he could not survive in the jungle. A group of Capuchin monkeys had mistreated Michael because he had human behaviours that he learned when he was captive. This group of monkeys abused Michael to the point that he had to be hospitalized. Michael now cannot be with humans nor with monkeys and is living a very lonely life. After visiting and supporting this sanctuary and taking many photos on the way, there was only one more thing left to do.

Our last activity was tubing! Instead of taking the boat back to the hotel we went through the river with a tube and tried not to fall! This was the best way to finish our fantastic day in Ecuador. We are excited to know more about our world. We’ll be sharing our next adventures and experiences in Ecuador soon!

Isabela