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  • Writer's pictureCharlys Trevino

Ecuador-El Oriente

El Oriente of Ecuador refers to the Amazonia region. I barely scratched the surface of the Amazon with my visit to Banos de Santa Agua and Puyo. Banos is said to be the gateway to the Amazon. It is a resort town with lush fauna, tons of waterfalls and thermal baths.

It's known for it's extreme sport activities like ziplining , handgliding, rock climbing etc. The town itself is small but the locals are super pleasant. Pailon de Diablo is a impressive waterfall outside of Banos in the small community of Rio Verde.

Banos sits at the base of the unpredictable volcano Tungurahua. Tungurahua last erupted in 2014, it just so happened that two Americans were at the Casa de Arbol swinging on the infamous swing when the volcano started erupted. One of the tourists an American photographer snapped a picture of his friend swinging in the middle of the eruption. He submitted this picture to a National Geographic photo contest and called it "The end of the world" The photo received honorable mention and the Tree house has been famous ever since.

I didn't get on the swing, I have a terrible fear of heights and there was no way I was going to swing out into the abyss but my friend Robin was game! Unfortunately the clouds had rolled in and you can barely see the volcano behind her.

I really enjoyed my time in Banos, I met this great Swiss couple that lived on the hill overlooking Banos, did some hiking, took in the thermal baths and saw some awesome waterfalls.

After saying good bye to my friend Robin who headed back to the States. I decided to travel to Puyo a town a little further into the Amazon basin. The town itself is non-descript but the surrounding area is beautiful. I stayed on the outskirts of town in one of the best Airbnbs' ever! The Airbnb hosts were amazing! And to this day I still keep in touch with Karina.

Karina and her husband were big advocates for the indigenous tribes in the Amazon of Ecuador. The Huaorani are a peaceful group of people, some have migrated to the cities while others live deep in the jungles of the Amazon only coming to the border towns every once in awhile.

Karina supports a community that is only reachable by plane or by traveling a couple of days through the jungle to reach them. She helps them sell their handmade jewelry and woven bags in town. It just so happened that during my stay with Karina and Robert the Chief's family , for lack of a better term, had a few of the children graduating from high school. These kids took classes via satellite school in a nearby village and also spent some time in the city some of the semester. To the community this is a very big deal and there was a celebration held in the town of Puyo for these students.

I wasn't invited to the party but I did get to meet the "chief" and his family one evening when they came to the house for a visit. They were such a happy group and only the chief spoke Spanish. Here he is with his bride of 30 years. By the end of my visit they were trying to marry me off to the 100+ year old father of the chief. Though he didn't understand a word his son was saying, his toothless grin made me think he was game!

In all seriousness, these tribes who live deep in the jungle in Ecuador are currently being manipulated and taken advantage of by Timber companies and governments alike. The temptation of all the bright shining things which are normal to our society is taking a heavy toll on the preservation of not only their land but their culture. Afterall they too are only human.

Big companies bribe them with of all things, Coca Cola and junk food. Which they love! They bring them cases as "gifts" and convince them to sell them land and allow these companies to build mega roads to haul off the timber.

Governments come and take pictures, make videos and bring foreigners to see them all in order to collect money from organization in order to build better infrastructures, schools, etc. in these communities but the communities never get half of the things that are promised.

For all the nonbelievers out there who think what is happening in the Amazon jungle throughout South America is just "propaganda" to try and make "us" feel bad, it is not just propaganda it is a reality.

I did some touristy stuff while I was in Puyo, Robert was a tour guide and took me around for the day. I don't care for this type of tourism at all but Robert convinced me that this was a sure way that these border communities actually got all the money from the groups he brought around. I believed him so I sacrificed by face.

Went to a Cacao farm and watched the family make chocolate. Here they are roasting the beans, which after roasted were actually super good to eat!

Visited a ceremonial site where the local indigenous conduct rituals, some are Ayauasca rituals but only for the locals, they do not condone tourists doing this.

and last but certainly not least, took a beautiful walk in the jungle to this waterfall!

I really enjoyed my stay in the Oriente! I encourage all who are sitting on the fence about Ecuador, go!!

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