First Weeks of a Once in a Lifetime Quest

By Andrea Mayorga

Working in the Amazon rainforest has been a dream of mine since I was very young. Add in my fascination for South America, and suddenly Aliados becomes a once in a lifetime opportunity that I cannot afford to miss out on. That is why I took the leap into this next chapter of my life and became a communications intern for Fundacion Aliados. When I first arrived to what would be my home for the next two months in Tena, Ecuador, I found myself feeling equally excited as I did nervous. Although I frequently speak spanish back home with my parents, I found myself doubting my language skills. Would I be able to communicate effectively with the rest of the team? Would the communities I would be working with be open to having a conversation with me if I stuttered over every other word?

Turns out, I had no reason to worry.

Butchered or not, my spanish was the least of anyone’s issue. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, including the other interns, which eventually became my strongest support group. Orientation was held during our first few days in Tena so that we could better understand the framework of the projects we would be working on. This not only allowed us to familiarize ourselves with each other, but also with the city. We also went on a very informative walking tour around town, which showed us where we could go to find local foods, and what activities we could participate in on our free time. Ecuador was turning out to be just as I had imagined and more.

During my first week of work with Aliados, I got the chance to visit the community of Tsawata and sit in on an organizational meeting. It was interesting to see how the community members interacted with us, as well as getting to hear their opinions on the work they have accomplished. During our time there, I also had a moment to visit the vivero, or nursery, that had been built and learn about the different kinds of trees being grown.

My second week consisted of rummaging through the forest looking for seeds that could be planted in another vivero. I got to spend two nights in Mushullacta, a small community surrounded by rich, lush rainforest. My nights there were quite the experience, considering the massive spiders I came across and the complete lack of cell signal in the area. But, it was indeed an unforgettable time.

I am going onto my third week with Aliados, and I’m excited to see how this adventure continues to unfold. I still have many more communities to visit, as well as plenty to learn. I’ve gotten a head start on a few projects that I am to complete throughout my time in Ecuador, and I look forward to continuing to build upon them. I hope that at the end of my internship term, I will be able to say that I made a major impact in the productivity and efficiency of Fundacion Aliados.