Today we visited the Sani community of the Quichua people. This community center is located on the Napo River. The common welcome phrase is Alipunja. When we arrived to the community center we were greeted by a few of the women. A leader of the women’s group took us around their gardens. We stopped and saw their turtle sanctuary for Yellow Spotted Amazon River turtles. We next visited their school and learned about their education system. After the school we visited the farm and harvested the native crop of yuca and weaved head bands with leaves that are also used to make the Panama hats. We tasted fresh sugar cane that was so sweet it was almost candy. After this, we went to the kitchen to see what was for lunch.  They had a traditional cooking fire with food roasting above. grubsWe tried the native chicha drink while three people were brave enough to eat a live grub. For lunch we ate locally caught fish (a variety of paraña) with heart of palm wrapped in a leaf that had been cooking on the fire. Behind the kitchen was a full size soccer field with local teams competing with one team from Sani lodge. As we were getting ready to leave our guide painted our faces with natural oil paint from a fruit. Finally, we had the opportunity to adopt a Yellow Spotted Amazon river turtle and name it before we released it into the Napo river. We really enjoyed this opportunity to learn about the indigenous Quichua people. Not only have we had the opportunity to explore the endemic biodiversity of the Amazon, but we also were exposed to the culture that is unique to Ecuador.

Photo: Mmmmm grubs!

~ Virginia Tech students Erin Dailey and Emily Reasor


Follow the Adventure!  You are invited to follow the VT Ecuador students as they report back from South America during their 3-week journey, May 16-June 7.  They will be blogging @VTResearch and posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the hashtag #VTEcuador. – See more at: