Achuar Guide (Jacqueline Ball)
Kapawi Lodge was the first ecotourism lodge in Ecuador. When we told Ecuadorians we were going to Kapawi Lodge they gave us a second-and approving-- look. It is famous in their country because it is a partnership between the indigenous Achuar people and ''modern'' Ecuadorians and foreigners. 37 years ago when Achuar people first had contact with people from the modern Ecuadorian world many people feared it would be the start of the destruction of Achuar culture and way of life. The Kapawi Lodge project is intended to provide the Achuar with an alternative path to the destructive impacts of allowing oil extraction and mining on the extensive rain forest lands that have been identified as the land of the Achuar. All of the Lodge staff-Achuar and non-Achuar alike--are passionate about this goal.
The lodge complex is gorgeous. There were only 4 other guests there with us. We were all housed in 3 lodges at the far end of the line of lodges. I felt like we had our own private piece of the rain forest. The lodges have thatched roofs and are round, sitting on poles over a lagoon. A lanai with lounge chairs faces the lagoon. When we returned each night the mosquito nets were pulled down around our beds. It was the rainy season but while we stayed at the lodge there was a break in the rain. It was not as humid as I expected, either. . . A note. . . alert your roommate not to leave a chocolate mint on your pillow. It will melt in the tropics!