Reflection by Patricio y Juan Rivera (cousins) from the community Mariscal Sucre
We left for the Caverns of Jumandy from Mariscal and did not know what to think, what we would do exactly, but were excited to spend a few days with young Americans. They think differently from us and it was going to be a good opportunity. We met them at the Caverns and we felt happy, but also nervous. But going through the caverns helped us relax. It was an amazing experience to go in the cave and also cool to learn about who Jumandy was, an indigenous warrior in the area who fought for freedom.
In the bus to Coca we began to feel more comfortable with the internationals. They shared things with us and we chatted while traveling. In the hotel on the first night we played cards, like the Dutch Blitz game, and all had a great time. At the end of that day, and knew we were friends.
The next day was the beginning of the shock, we visited sites contaminated by oil. We visited oil wells, farms and streams. We had no idea of the pollution and it impacted us greatly. We started thinking how La Mariscal is now and how it would change if oil companies come. We also learned about the high levels of cancer in the area and that we were very sad. At one point we also thought about what would happen if a person or animal walks over the wells, which are covered by grass. And that will happen to people who drink water from the streams, they appear clean until they move the ground with a stick and then you can see the pollution. It was very sad to learn that it takes about 60,000 years for nature to regenerate as it was before the oil.
We went to the community of Dureno and it was cool to travel the 10 minutes in canoe on the Rio Tigre to get there, but it was very sad to know that many people suffer from diseases because of oil. The visit also made us reflect on the lessons learned in high school about indigenous communities. We expected something very different. The Cofan are more modern and their crafts are also modern. We thought we would see clay pottery , or something like that. It was interesting because we met a real culture.
We returned to Mariscal and did many activities with the Americans. They see things differently, and it was cool to talk to them all the time. On the walk to the waterfall we learned how we are different. They do not know how to walk well across the stones and we had to help them a lot, but we realized that they know how to do some things well and other things not so well, like us. On the hike we learned a lot from Juan, like how to survive in the jungle. Since we are not indigenous it would be very difficult. We also did theater activities as we did with Daniel before, but this time it was different. We did them in nature and it was very calming, very different, relaxing.
When we went to Tzawata, we learned of the Kichwa people and their struggle against the companies, and it was important to know how they decided to live on top of the mine to stop exploitation. It was also interesting to see how the indigenous are organized differently from our community .
We also were able to share a tradition with the Americans, we made them colada morada and gua guas de pan (a special bread), and it was cool.
The last day we worked on theater activities to present to the community and it was sad. We had to resign ourselves that it was the last day and the Americans would leave, but we were also excited to have had the experience. It was a bit embarrassing to do theater for the whole community, but afterward the community spoke a lot about what they saw. It was almost like we helped everyone understand what is happening in our country. Living in a polluted place makes us sad and we would prefer to no longer exploit for more oil because there is a lot of damage to the environment and people.
Finally, the time was very short, it would have been better if the Americans spent more time with us, but we learned a lot and made some great friends.