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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Minga – Ecuador Community Service


Hola Friends and Family!

After a fun time in Latacunga, we were all amazed by the quick rise in temperature as we arrived in the Amazon rainforest. For many of us, this was our first time truly being immersed in nature. Many were excited to jump in the river and Max and Lila made sure to test out the rope swing. After a delicious candlelit dinner, we played the dating game. Lauren G and Stevie really enjoyed giving advice to the “contestants.”

We started our first day with a breakfast overlooking the river, then pleasantly surprised to witness a group of over 20 squirrel monkeys jumping from tree to tree in the near distance. Everyone tried to capture the moment on camera.

After an eventful breakfast, we started the Minga community service project. Minga means ‘work together in the community’ in Quechua, their native language. We spent our morning reconstructing the walls and roof of a nearby hut alongside local community members. Michael, Jessie, Cameron and Caroline B. did an awesome job of tearing down the old bamboo walls. Max, Lucy, Lexi and Marlee then insured that all of the old nails were removed from the existing structure of the building. Once the nails were removed, Zach and Mason brought over the new siding. Renee and Marc used their muscles as they carried logs from one area of the site to another. While many members of our groups were working hard on the sides of the hut, Maya and Lila spent the afternoon cutting down large tree leafs that would later be used for the new roof. Stevie, Lauren S., Sami, Caroline T. and Jane then carried over the freshly cut leaves to the building. Since we created quite a mess tearing down the walls, Tamzen, Carly and Hannah did an impeccable job of sweeping and cleaning the inside of the hut. While it was a work filled morning, the entire group agreed that the experience taught us a great deal about teamwork.

In the afternoon, we took a break from service and had a relaxing tube ride down the river. Carly and Maya sang several classic Motown hits as they floated across the water. The tube ride truly gave us a chance to take in the beauty of the Amazon. The group also had the opportunity to visit Amazoonica, an animal rehabilitation centre. Our guide explained that many of the wild animals had been raised as house pets but were later abandoned by their owners. Amazoonica serves as a place to help rehabilitate the animals with the long-term goal of reintegrating most of them into nature. Throughout our visit to the facility, we saw parrots, toucans, monkeys, a jaguar, an ocelot (part of the cat family), a tapir, capybara (a large rodent) and many pecari (from the pig family). Lauren G. caught great action shots of an alligator and a monkey. In the evening, we played a few rounds of Family Feud where Hannah and Maya proved themselves to be true game show pros. Our competitive group really got into the game!
Ecuador Community Service
We started off our second day in the Amazon with another morning of service. We returned to the same site as the previous day, and trip members were impressed to hear that there was already people staying in the hut we had constructed the day before. On our second day, Lauren S, Tamzen, Hannah and Lauren G. helped cut bamboo for a different hut, while Jane and Maya continued with cutting down more leaves for the roof and Carly and Lucy continued to work on the first hut. Our service ended with Jessie, Caroline B and Lauren G getting into a giant mud fight. All these girls mentioned this as one of the trip highlights.

In the afternoon, we crossed the river and visited a native family’s home to gain a better understanding of their way of life. We began by trying the serbatana, also known as the blowgun. While many trip members had difficulty, Caroline T. hit the wooden target after her first try. We then made our way inside the home to make our own chicha. We had previously tried this drink made with fermented corn, but Lauren G. and Hannah made a batch for the group made from sweet potato and yuca. The entire trip then had the opportunity to taste the local drink.

Many of the trip members have mentioned roughing it in the Amazon Raiforest as being the best location. It was wonderful to see everyone stepping outside of their comfort zones, going off the grid and getting back to nature for a few days. Our time in the Amazon will definitely be something everyone will remember. We can’t believe that the trip is already half over. Time is flying by and we can’t wait to continue our adventure in Banos!

The Westcoast Blogger