2005 Ecuador Trip: Personal Narrative

Dear Jen,

So, the time has come to deliberate on the outcome of our infamous trip – Ecuador. I suppose I will take this letter by point, nice and organized!

First, the preparations for this trip were intense. The meetings twice a week were great for organizing and planning.

Second, our time with cemproc was probably the most “scholastically” educational part of the trip. The lectures were informative. Learning the local culture and customs from Jack and Diana was genuine and all the more special because of the special people we were blessed with. From salsa to problem-solving and negotiations, what I took from them was useful and applicable to life, which, in my opinion, is the best type of learning. Cumanda had the best view of the mountains, cascades, and the river and I felt at home, even with the bats and bugs. Our problem solving within the group during our first week really impressed me, too! There were times when I saw a problem and assumed certain people would either hold a grudge or they would give up on the situation. To my pleasant surprise, people did step up when necessary, and that was great.

Thirdly, the jungle. Probably everyone’s favorite part. Who knew you could absorb so much culture in so short a time. Seeing the toxic tour after spending such a refreshing time in the jungle – wow, is all I can say. It made me even more angry to think about how poorly people get treated day in and day out, all over the world. “Why?” sprang to mind so many times, walking around Coca, and the only answer I could come up with was $ $ $. But big corporate companies are part of what makes the world go round. There has to be a solution somewhere, but when or who will find it, I’m not so sure we will ever know; before it’s too late. But I expected to see devastation when I got there, just like I expected to see poverty and rebellion. Some of these things we did see, but I had trouble feeling sorry for them. Many of these indigenous groups have been abandoning their culture one generation at a time – choosing an easier life over a hard one, or over no life at all. It’s tragic, but a true depiction of how cultures change, willingly or not. It was almost easier to see because of the small scale of these societies the number of Ketchwa people over the number of say Swedish people throughout history is different, therefore the changes were different to see.

I loved being medic for our group. Pretty ironic that the people I thought would get hurt the worst didn’t, and those I did assume would get bumps and scrapes get very few or none and I got to provide some follow-up care for some pretty cool patients. I wish I could have had more supplies and better skill so that I could have treated that sick Hrouani boy, but I guess that is a lesson, too.

I can’t be everything to everybody, but I can be something to someone. It made me feel useful to be able to help out in that way on this trip.

So, anyway – some great memories, some great friendships. Lots of love,

Danielle

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