to the Rainforest
We each heard a call from the rainforest …
To partake in a journey of the heart to rebirth the Divine Feminine at
the womb of our planet into the consciousness of all humanity.
Our destination: The remote rainforest home of the
Achuar people in the Upper Amazon Basin of Ecuador.
The Achuar are an ancient dream culture and the
natural custodians of their rainforest home ~
a pristine rainforest with no oil development, lumber or
As an indigenous nation, they have taken a bold stand to preserve
their rainforest and ancient culture. In partnership with The
Pachamama Alliance, they have stood strong.
We traveled with Pachamama at the invitation of the Achuar.
Our tribe of 17 “shAmazing” women on a journey of many life times!
Maidens and mothers traveling together as sisters …
We gathered in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito. A city of over 1 million people
at 9,350 ft (2,850m) surrounded by active volcanoes including Cototapaxi to
the south, Pinchincha to the west and others north and east.
Some explored the “Old
City” of Quito with its
beautiful cathedrals and
Colonial Plaza Grande
before our journey to the
Leaving Quito, we traveled by bus south taking in the beauty of this country.
We traveled down the “Avenue of the Volcanoes” passing Cotopaxi and other
active volcanoes in route to Salasaca, an Andean indigenous community.
We were taking in the rich agriculture that would provide us
with deeply nourishing foods . . .
At Hostal Runa Huasi, we were greeted by Alonso Pillo and his family
And served a nutritious lunch of organic legumes,
vegetables, fruits, free range chickens, and love!
Their three generations spin
and weave as a family.
Delighting in life itself, Grandmother
took great delight in our feeble
attempts to learn to spin…
Alonso and his son
demonstrated their weaving
skills, a family tradition
passed on for many
Salasacas, like the Achuar,
are a strong community with
a bold commitment to
preserve their culture and
Their intricate designs have
very specific meanings.
Late afternoon Mt Tungurahua greeted us capping the
awe inspiring landscape of the Andean highlands.
Descending the Andes to the edge of the rainforest, we join the
Pastaza River. We followed the Pastaza by bus and then by plane
to a dirt landing strip in the remote “Oriente”.
On the edge of the rainforest we stayed at El Hardin Lodge in Puyo, Ecuador.
Where we were greeted
by macaws and parrots
of the rainforest.
Narcisa, and her husband Santiago Kawarim, greeted us for dinner.
9 months pregnant, Narcisa, told us about the Jungle Mamas project to
educate Achuar women in safe maternity and infant care practices.
We flew AeroTsentsak into the rainforest . Tsentsak is the Achuar word for
the magic darts shamans use in their healings.
Having their own air service, provides the Achuar with vital access to their
remote villages without building roads that would dissect the rainforest,
threaten wildlife, and encourage settlement sprawl.
And we are off, shuttled in
two separate flights!
Leaving towns on the edge of the rainforest behind us,
The Amazon stretches out like one big patch of broccoli as far as the eye can
see. A land with no roads, only rivers, and trails cut by machete.
45 minutes later we see the beautiful Kapawi Eco-tourist Lodge.
We headed to a dirt runway along the banks
of the sprawling Pastaza River whose waters
flow to the Amazon.
We landed in the remote village of Wachirpas less than 20
miles up river from the Peruvian border.
A canoe met us in the Pastaza River below the end of the runway.
The dock showed how low the
Ecuador has been enduring an
extended drought that caused
power outages in Quito and
Puyo, dried agricultural fields in
the Andes, and now leaves the
rivers unseasonably low.
The Achuar told us that turtle
eggs are exposed and drying in
the hot sun so that the numbers
of turtles have drastically
In years past turtles lined the
logs floating in the rivers. This
year we saw no turtles.
We canoed for over
half an hour across
the Pastaza and up
the Capahuari River
to Kapawi Lodge.
The exuberance of
abundant life on the
river in the rainforest
is contagious …
Along the way children played in the water and along the river banks.
Rivers are the Achuar’s primary source for transportation among villages.
Layer upon layer of greenery
and flora form the various
levels of the rainforest
A part of our group arrives
at the Kapawi dock on the
A boardwalk of
bamboo and native
wood cuts through the
forest from the dock to
The 20 guest cabins at Kapawi were built by the Achuar
using ancient traditional construction techniques.
No nails or screws were used in construction. Only pegs and holes, notches
and lashes as seen in the support structure for the roof.
Originally built on the edge of a lagoon, the rainforest is ever changing.
At the door to her cabin,
Gracie delights with her
Kapawi issued rainforest
They kept our feet dry on
wet trails whenever we left
the lodge …
Kapawi is comfortably
inviting with drinkable
water in the taps And hot showers on sunny days!
Our first afternoon at Kapawi we went for a jungle hike. Our
Achuar guides pointed out plants, inserts, birds and animals.
Celestino like most Achuar we met loves to smile and laugh.
We saw the brilliant
known for its iridescent
The thin nutrient layer of the
rainforest soil does not support
Buttressing root systems and As are “walking” palms which extend
strangle wood growth is every new roots to follow the sunlight.
Termites are the composters and
live in massive mud nests.
Ferns emerge from the forest floor
Vines climb from the forest floor to the canopy above.
Throughout antiquity the
forest provided indigenous
peoples with all their needs.
Santos demonstrates how
the Achuar fold palm leaves
to create thatch for traditional
Celestino shows how
the Achuar use the
fibers from various
plants for building,
weaving and making
so many things –
Combs, baskets, twine
for roofs and buildings.
Later he would cut
walking sticks for the
The Achuar rise before sun for their morning wayusa tea ceremony to
share their dreams, plan their day, and instruct their children.
Our first morning, we were up at 3:30am to travel by
canoe to the village of Kusutkau for wayusa tea and to
share our dreams in Achuar homes…
During the wayusa, we
learned about Achuar
culture including that
occur during the wayusa
We were moved by the
simplicity of life.
Typical Achuar homes have no
walls and little furniture.
Wooden benches line the
public area of the home. A few
pieces of clothing hang from
pegs or on lines to dry.
Wooden shelves serve as beds.
One end of the house is the women’s area with a continuous fire and a
few metal pots for brewing wayusa tea and chicha, their manioc staple.
Formerly purely hunter gatherers, the Achuar now raise chickens as
an important source of protein. A nice chicken coup …
Education is important to the Achuar. Most villages have their own
government provided school. Part of our tribe visited the school in
Boys and girls attend school
taught in Spanish following a
The Achuar recognized that
having Achuar teachers would
help preserve their language
The Pachamama Alliance has funded training
for Achuar teachers so the Achuar could be
taught in their own language.
We were invited into one woman’s
chakra in Kusutkau.
Women tend their
chakras while singing
sacred anents to
Nunkui, spirits of the
The main products
grown are manioc,
bananas, papaya, sweet
potatoes, hot chilies,
sugar cane, palms, and
many medicinal and
other useful plants.
Manioc is their main
staple which they drink
as chicha. Women brew
and chew the manioc
which causes it to
In the chakra, we disturbed a wasp’s nest and several of our tribe were stung.
Wasp medicine is about protective nourishment and role fulfillment. It
teaches the lesson of fulfilling one’s role and responsibilities, revealing how
to construct and nurture our dreams.
An Achuar woman taught us how to create pottery bowls with intricate designs.
The men then judged our work and the women corrected them!
After sharing their
crafts, sacred anents,
and ancient traditions,
our gracious hosts
served a traditional
Achuar meal on
The meal included
fish, manioc and
potato cooked in a
banana leaf wrapping.
We shared a few songs of our own, including our own Spanish version of “In
the jungle, the mighty jungle the jaguar sleeps …”
On November 11
we traveled by
canoe to a
At 11:11 pm
Kathleen lead a
unleash the Divine
In route to Wayusentsa
we stopped for a hike in
We listened to
the sounds of
the birds and
Simon shared magical legends of the kapok tree and sacred Achuar traditions.
Debra spotted pink dolphins … and we continued up the river to Wayusentsa.
At sunset we visited the shaman’s house.
Mary Elizabeth brought gifts in an abalone shell
from an American shaman which we had blessed,
Monica presented school supplies, and
Christen delighted the family with her harmonica.
We were touched when our host said he would be sad to see our group leave.
As we left Wayusentsa the next morning, a
swarm of butterflies hovered around the
dock. Butterflies and transformation were
all around us …
Later in the afternoon most rested while others kayaked with pink fresh
water dolphins! The magic continues!
The sun sets on the Capahauri River bringing to close another magical day
in the rainforest.
journey of many
A love pile as our group prepares to watch Dream People of the Amazon,
the story of the Achuar and the work of The Pachamama Alliance.
The morning we are leaving, Simon paints our faces with achiote paste.
Each woman gets her
own unique design.
Passing Cotapaxi on our way back to Quito and the modern world …
We celebrate our magical journey together at Café Cultura in Quito our last
night with deep joy and gratitude for all we have experienced and the
sisterhood we have created!
With love and gratitude
to our ShAmazing Tribe
for all we have shared …
It has only just begun!
Kathleen McIntire ~ our leader and divine
Robin Milam ~ jaguar leader
Christina “Cuqui” Serrano ~ our Ecuadorian
guide who so open heartedly shares her
love of her country and the Achuar!
Liberty BlueSkyes Katelyn Lyster