pacific coast

Visit Two Distinct Communities . . .

Spend one week in two communities which Yanapuma works with towards sustainable development: 3 days in the community of Estero de Plátano, and 2 days in a Tsa´chila community. You will be able to experience first-hand the unique cultures of these communities, and witness the effects of Yanapu-ma´s projects there.

You will first travel to the small community of Estero de Plátano, which is located on the Pacific coast in the southern part of the province of Esmeraldas. Originally inhabited by the Chachi culture, the pop-ulation is now mixed with mestizos and black descendents of a slave ship that ran aground, resulting in a unique cultural blend. Over the next three days there will be abundant nature to explore and beaches to enjoy!

Then, you´ll travel to Santo Domingo and to one of the seven remaining villages of the Tsa´chila culture. Originally a forest-dwelling people, their distinctive culture is undergoing a renaissance through a group of families that run cultural centers “Shinopi Bolon” and "Masara Mudu" which is where students stay when they take classes. Here students can explore a small reserve that contains some of the original primary forest that once covered the entire region.

Please note that living conditions can be quite rudimentary when staying with an indigenous family, and this is part of the overall experience of immersing oneself in another culture. Some adaptation is required but we have found that the experience is mostly overwhelmingly rewarding for students.

The western side of the Andes slopes down towards the Pacific Ocean. Originally covered by rainforest this area has largely been systematically felled and converted to agricultural land. The area of the Cabo San Francisco where Estero de Plátano is located still contains some of the original rainforest and was inhabited by the Chachi culture. The Tsa'chila were originally hunter-gatherers who lived in the rainforest further inland, but they have been forced to change their traditional lifestyle due to the disappearance of the forest.

"This was an interesting week. Although the conditions were somewhat basic - the first time I have had to wash in the river - it was also a real education that has made me appreciate how much we are consumers in the US! The people were wonderful, and I have great memories."

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