the Amazon, Ecuador
The Amazon: where life is much simpler and the only way to tell time is by meals. No electricity. No internet. No hot showers.
I stayed in a homestay of a very intelligent Quichua man, Delfin, and his family. His father was a shaman of the village. They prepared our meals which always included plantains and yucca (yam) cooked in various ways. I’ve never eaten so much fruits and vegetables in my life! My days were filled with excursions into the jungle: we hiked through the jungle, past streams and thick overgrowths, and rappelled down waterfalls. Amazing hikes and scenery. As far as my eyes could see was pristine jungle. Delfin also showed us how they use the plants in the area for medicine or food. Before we departed on our very first hike Delfin performed a ritual where he painted our faces with petroglyph symbols using the achiote plant. The red paste from the plant symbolizes blood or family, meaning we are hiking as one unit. Then he put a crown of plant leaf on our heads.
One day we visited the village school where his wife teaches. Currently it only has 7 children. (Too few because times are changing and more of their young people are moving into the city.) The kids sang a few songs for us, and we in turn taught them a few basic english words. Then we played hangman in english. It was fun and the kids were very smart. Our last night the family put on a demonstration to teach us their traditions and Delfin demonstrated the shamanistic ritual. I really enjoyed my time here.