Finding Family

Priyanka Rao - Ecuador

November 11, 2011

Day Two on the ELA Sumaco tour with the entire class of 24 students, driver and conductor of the bus, Mary and Patricia of the National Parks Association, and Rocío (my boss), Luis, and me.  I started out very discouraged at my ignorance, but I’ts taken me a day to acclimatize to the point where I can learn, listen and occasionally (every other minute) ask questions.  I kind of hoped it would become a big group of brothers and sisters and indeed they are starting to adopt me.  Home.

A facilitator explains the process of cultivating mushrooms

We are touring all over the country (ok, not quite) discovering development projects, and learning to appreciate the endemic species and products we have here in Ecuador.  We visited a Mushroom farm, a ‘Vivarium’ (Reptile house) and today an outdoor museum about the ancient society of Yumbo.

Encounter with snakes at Quito's 'Vivarium'

The cultural side is prevalent too; we visited the Panecillo last night which houses the giant statue of the Virgin which stands over the center of old Quito.  I am invited into many photos and asked to take a few.  Luckily I get offered lots of chocolates as well, because I didn’t bring any money.  This will be my first trip completed literally without out a single penny, or centavo as they say.  All the better for being a ‘learner’; learning Spanish and

Soaking up the energies of ancestors

being laughed at when I mistake ‘mucus’ for ‘nose’ and fill my coffee with salt.


I am truly grateful to Rocío and the whole crew for this tour; this truly is the best way to get to know the ELA, School of Environmental Leaders. Their ages range from 20 till at least 52.  They speak Castellano (Spanish) or Kitchwa, and rich or poor are somehow leaders in their communities.  The women are fewer and seemingly younger but very enchanting to talk to… or interpret, as it may be.  I’m learning Kitchwa, local phrases, and etiquette but most importantly I’m the designated do-all for the minimal amount of things I am able to do.  I love it.



Priyanka Rao