Feliz Cinco de Mayo! This first blog post may be premature, but I’m very excited about my upcoming trip to Ecuador at the end of June. I’m actually very bad at Spanish, and I’m not even sure if people in Ecuador celebrate Cinco de Mayo…I am going to keep studying Spanish until I leave in June, and I hope to learn a lot within the three months I will be there! I have been preparing for my trip for weeks now. I renewed my passport which expired in June, and I got a few immunizations. I still have to get my rabies vaccinations, because the area outside of Tena that I will hopefully spend a lot of my time, has a lot of bats. If anyone has ever had to get a rabies vaccine, you should know they are VERY expensive. It is a three dose shot, and it’s over 250 for each shot. I think I have called every travel clinic in Boston to try to find the cheapest one. The cheapest seems to be a travel clinic that is not even a real doctor’s office–but I guess you get what you pay for. At Boston Medical they charge $350 per shot, with a $155 dollar consultation fee, and they told me they weren’t the most expensive in town! Wow.
I became interested in Ecuador because I was exploring and writing poems about the affect of America’s oil addiction on children, and I stumbled upon the American documentary “Crude” which reveals the ongoing struggle of people in Ecuador with Chevron. Around the same time I was also becoming interested in ethnographies because I recently read “All Our Kin” by Carol B. Stack, and, looking for ethnographies written in Ecuador, I found a wonderful ethnography by FSU professor Dr. Michael Uzendoski called “The Napo Runa of Amazonian Ecuador.” I became very intrigued by these people because of their close connection with nature, and since I grew up in an in-between state of being close to nature along the bayous in the gulf coast of Florida, and yet also part of this mass consumption of fossil fuels and pollution–I decided what I really needed to do was to spend time in the Amazon in Ecuador, and hopefully learn something about the way these people live.
My journey will begin with taking a class with Dr. Uzendoski in both ethnopoetics and field studies, and I will be reading his new book, “The Ecology of the Spoken Word: Amazonian Storytelling and Shamanism among the Napo Runa.” I think learning about oral literatures will have an affect on me and the way I write and interpret poetry, and I’m excited to explore this side of Ecuador as well. For the two or so months after the class, I will be on my own, and will hopefully grow close to the communities that are physically and spiritually close to the rainforest in which they live.