I have just returned from the Ecuadorian Amazon, east of Macas where I have founded the Amazon Refuge in indigenous Shuar territory. The Refuge is a nature reserve to protect the rainforest and support indigenous cultures of the Amazon, as a way to spread peace, health and wisdom on our planet.
I am happy to say that we now have 2 tree houses, an open kitchen, 3 cottages built in the Shuar style with thatched roofs and bamboo siding. We are having a most joyous and transformative time. I am continually awed by the profound wisdom of the Shuar, their knowledge of how to live sustainably within the environment, their good company and nurturing hands.
I so want to share this Refuge and Shuar life with my global family and am inviting you to come. During your visit you will have the unique opportunity to share daily life with a lovely Shaur family, who are care takers of the land. Thy will cook delicious Shuar meal gathered from the rainforest. You will sleep in a charming traditional Shuar thatched roof bamboo house on comfortable mattresses on split bamboo floor or in a cozy tree house.
Imagine beginning your day by taking a dip in the clear Yukias River before breakfast and then walk in the forest as your Shuar guides teach you about the medicinal plants. You will have the opportunity to learn first hand many unique aspects of this shamanic culture which is threatened by extension. You will be instructed in the traditional songs, dances and prayers.
You are also invited to participate in shamanic ceremonies. You can go to regional Festivals and take a rafting trip down the river. As you may have imagined by now this is not a luxurious tour but an opportunity to have an intimate experience with a fascinating culture with warm welcoming people.
Be prepared for a rugged adventure in the rainforest with balmy weather punctuated by daily showers. Friends who have already visited say this is a transformative experience, enabling them to discover their own visions, regain good health and a sense of wellbeing.
For the moment I am not planning on leading a group trip to visit the Refuge. However, my founding partner, Camilo Tsamaraint, is not only charming and fascinating, but also practical and reliable. He can make all arrangements and meet you in Macas, the closest city to the Amazon Refuge. Please contact him directly and let him know the dates you wish to visit the Refuge.
He can give you any information you might need about your visit: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you don't write Spanish, you can translate your email on the web.www.google. com (type in free translator). A trip with one to five friends would be ideal. If you don't speak Spanish your stay will be more enjoyable if you bring a friend who does. Camilo understands English but speaks only a little.
Donations: cover all transportation in the country (except flight from Quito into Macas): buses, taxis; all meals and lodging, and fees for festival, dances and for your Shuar guides, teachers and Shamans. go to top
Three different ways of visiting the Amazon Refuge:
1) 2 to 3 day visit as part of a trip to Ecuador — $125/ day.
Includes ceremony with shaman, traditional dances, songs, traditional food, instruction in rainforest medicinal plants, arts and crafts, guides in the jungle and river.
2) One week visit — $750.
All the above, as well as an in depth opportunity to experience daily life with the Shuar. I f you also wish, you can visit a pristine lagoon that is part of the Refuge and return to Quito by scenic bus route instead of by plane.
3) Two weeks or longer — $500/week.
All the above, as well as an ideal amount of time to become immersed in the culture, time to slow down, meditate, write, and give yourself the opportunity to envision the next phase of your life. I also suggest 2 weeks or longer if you are dealing with health problems, wish to cleanse your diet, or change other life long habits.
Note: fees do not include your stay in Quito (I suggest the Casa Sol: Tel: 011 593 22 230 798. On their website you can email them for reservations: www.lacasaol.com.) The Casa Sol is a beautiful hostel run by my dear Otavaleñan friends. You will also need to pay for and make your own flight reservation from Quito to Macas when you arrive at the airport.
Go to the TAME reservation ticket counter, in the national section of the airport. You must pay cash $61, and show your passport. Planes leave Quito on Tuesday and Thursday at 2 PM. They return on the same days at 3 PM. You can fly to Quito, Ecuador on T ACA (800-225-2272) for around $650 round trip.
Above right: Edie Hartshorne, Vijali's colleague and peace activist, is reading in her tree house. She has given the funds to build it in her mother's name, as the "Posie Churchill Memorial."
Bring: a valid passport, (a visa is given on arrival at the airport in Ecuador,) light weight sleeping bag that can zip open, sun lotion and hat, insect repellant, Teva-like sandals are most practical, bathing suit, towel, long sleeve shirt and pants and one change, shorts and T-shirt if you wish.
Put cameras etc. in baggies and line your baggage with garbage bags for moisture protection. Please bring as little as possible and only what you can carry yourself. Check with your local health department for shots. I always bring secondhand clothes for the women and children, light blankets are also useful for them.
Donations: If you are not able to come soon but wish to make a tax-deductible donation, our immediate needs are:
Chain saw $850
Second hand truck $4,000
Building materials for enclosed kitchen:
Thatch roof and supporting posts
donated by Casey Straus $950
Transport: men and horses $600
Labor to construct house
donated by Casey Straus $1,000
Batteries for solar electricity $400
Charger for batteries $100
2 inverters for electrical equipment $200
Traditonal dugout canoe (8 meters long)
donated by Marsha Morrison $1,500
Spectic tank $400
4 addional tree houses, $800 per house $3,600
Other ways to be a part of the Amazon project:
1. For $800 we can build you a tree house, that will be yours when you come to the Amazon. (Edie Hartshorne has donated for her tree house.)
2. We want to purchase more land along the river adjoining the Amazon Refuge. For $10,000. we can buy 10 hectars in your name. (Markell Brooks has given 20 hectares, and Tarra Allen has donated almost 70 hectares.)
3. Education for a Shuar youth; for $200 a month or $2,000 for a scholastic year you can assist Tamara, a bright, delightful young Shuar in her university education. (Markell Brooks has donated for Tamara's first year which is coming to an end soon. We are wanting to support her second year.)
Your tax-deductible contributions for trips or donations: will be given to the Shuar for the maintenance and development of the Amazon Refuge, to start educational programs, or to Tamara for her education.
Indicate your choice and write checks to World Wheel, a non profit, tax deductible organization and mail to: Vijali Hamilton World Wheel Retreat HC 65, Box 2703 Castle Valley, Utah 84532 Contact: Me, Vijali Hamilton by email: email@example.com Website: www.vijali.net (you can read more about the Amazon Refuge project in a past newsletter on my website.)
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For travel information or arrangements contact: Camilo Tsamaraint, email: firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 011 593 99 111 736 (cellular)
This World Wheel Amazon project has magically fallen into place with the donations of so many friends, and with the enthusiasm and hard work of our Shuar community in clearing paths and building the charming Shuar houses. I am thrilled! Thank you, thank you.
In Peace and Gratitude,
World Wheel, Earth Mandala, Vijali Hamilton, healing with art, community art projects, community building through the arts.
Photo by Vijali Hamiton -- Four Faces of Unity (detail) in Seneca Reservation
Photo by Vijali Hamiton -- Woman Of Space Pregnant With Sun in Spain