Posted by: mckecuador | May 15, 2011

Visiting the Wari Churi Tribe

May 14th, Day 6

The day started by waking up in the refreshing beds of the Hotel Heliconias. We all slowly but surely made our way to the second floor of building B to eat breakfast before our busy day. Just as they did in Quito we were served eggs and bread with jam and butter, but the bread was now a delicious roll. The drinks were also very traditional Ecuadorian juices and coffee. After breakfast we took taxis to the Wari Churi camp. When we arrived we were greeted by Elmundo, who was voted leader by the Wari Churis. Our first activity was to drink cheecha and then we watched a traditional Quichua song and dance. The men all

Serving the traditional cheecha drink.

played instruments like drums, recorders, and turtle shells. The women were the dancers; they were dressed in blue dresses with seed belts around their waists. During the performance the elder woman offered a bowl of cheecha to the Quichua. She poured some cheecha into the other women’s bowls. They began to dance in a line in front of us raising and lowering their bowls as if they were making an offering. Then we drank more cheecha from the bowls the women were holding. The women grabbed our hands and we danced the traditional dance with them. We all had much fun, but the dance was not easy. They dance by hopping up and down while switching feet which is very difficult to do for any amount of time. We have no clue how the Wari Churi women could dance for as long as they did. Miguel told us that they sometimes dance for eight days straight!

 After our legs were on fire they decided to let us sit down, and they put on another performance. Before telling us what they were doing they asked for a volunteer and took Anthony. After Anthony left with the Wari Churis, Miguel informed us of their skit. It would be the story of a traditional courting of a woman in Ecuador. A traditional marriage in Ecuador had nothing to do with love; it was all about what you could give to the family as payment. The story began with a man and his wife pleading with the father of the girl to let their son marry his daughter. The first time was a disaster, the father immediately rejected their plea. The second time the couple returned they gave the girl’s father a cigarette, but the mother refused so they left. Evidently the third time was the charm because they were finally accepted by the girl’s family. This meant the two were to be married once the girl came of age. Anthony wasn’t allowed to see his bride until they were married. The bride came in with a red veil covering her face. The ceremony consisted of dancing, like most rituals. So Anthony was married to a young Wari Churi girl with his girlfriend Rachael sitting in the front row.

Did Anthony really get married?

Since Dr. Wilhelm hasn’t been feeling well, the spiritual leader did an actual cleansing. This is done to heal his sickness. Smoke, palms, and some liquid were used. The spiritual leader smoked and blew the smoke on Dr. Wilhelm’s body while shaking the palms. Then he proceeded to drink the liquid and blew it on him as well. The cleansing seems to have worked because he was feeling much better and was able to participate in the second activity of the day.

When the cleansing finished, different households brought their homemade jewelry to sell. They were made with seeds from trees and plants in the jungle and painted beautifully. After everyone was done buying the Wari Churi women invited us to play a 5 vs 5 futbol match. Before the game a few girls gave Monica an ankle bracelet they made which showed how the Wari Churi women felt about her. As is the custom, Monica gave the three girls a hat, a pair of sunglasses, and a pen and note pad. It turns out that the futbol field was the dirt area where our taxi dropped us of when we arrived. After filling in the pot holes with sand and everyone on each team betting a dollar we started playing. It was the gringos against the Wari Churi in a ten minute per half match. We started out well and scored the

The New McKendree Futbol (Soccer) Team

first goal to put the gringos up one unexpectedly. By the end of the match we were tied, so we continued on until one of the teams scored a goal. After nine minutes of extra time the Wari Churis won the match thus winning the huge pot of money. A grand total of $5.

 Since both teams were exhausted and starving we ate lunch. They served stuffed talapia, chicken feet, and turtle. For sides they had forest carrots and sugar cane. For drinks we had cheecha and tea. Everybody loved the food and some of us thought it was the best meal we have had so far. Then we took pictures and said good-bye to all the friends we made.

When we returned to the hotel we had one hour to clean up from the rain forest, then we took off for the Amazonia Zoo. The zoo is located on an island in between two rivers  that run through Tena. Originally there was a bridge connecting Tena and the island, but it was washed away in a flood last year. This meant the only way to get there now was by canoe. After reaching the island we met the director of the zoo and began our tour. We saw so many species of plants and flowers, monkeys, sloths, boars, ants, and birds. While  there, we visited the environmental science building which was constructed using bamboo (or what the local people call “steel of the future”). During the tour we went up in a tower that looked over Tena and the zoo.  The zoo was very interesting and we learned much about all the animals.

We never thought we'd see a spider monkey this close.

After meeting indigenous people, Anthony getting married, playing a thirty minute muddy soccer match, a delicious lunch, and visiting a zoo on an island, our day was finally complete. Today has followed the trend of the rest of the trip in which each day is better than the last.

Monica and Drew

The McKendree Study Abroad Group with Members of the Wari Churi Tribe



  1. What an amazing journey — and such well-written blogs!!!!!!!! I feel right there with you as I sit in my air-conditioned dining room picturing you and your experiences – thanks for sharing so well on this blog!

    There are new experiences here for me as well – I haven’t been to the hot springs or to the zoo or to Tena or seen Miguel eat a bite of the cuy’s head!!! Oh my! Did he put any peanut butter on it?

    Hope you all are well and am glad to hear the group is working so well together – Oh, and congratularions to Anthony!

  2. Kat! Christina watched your hello video at least ten time each time insisting she give your pic kisses and waving hello back! So laying by the pool hue? Lol Bring home some healing water for us too! love Ashley,mom,christina

  3. Wow! Every day seems to be filled to overflowing with new adventures. I’m tired just reading about all ya’ll are doing. I love the pictures and blogs.

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