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SECOYA COMMUNITY ENCOUNTER

Secoyas - FEEL THE AMAZON - Anakonda Amazon Cruises

Along the shores of the Napo River live the Secoya people, a minority community numbering around eight hundred members. When you meet the Secoyas, you’ll gather in one of their houses, a large open room situated on stilts and covered by a thick thatch roof. The Secoyas build these structures in two to three weeks, enlisting the help of close to twenty community members. It has always been a way they work and engage as a team to help each other. 

In this authentic experience, you will meet our naturalist guides who will introduce you to the elders of the community. If you want to greet them in their own language, you can say “gee-kay-hey” to say hello. The Secoyas have developed a worldview of great richness, which is manifested in oral tradition and the symbolic representations of their material culture. They dress in their traditional clothing with the unique feather crown for the men. On another note, they have adapted to various places and integrated their culture with artisanal agriculture. That is why they get their food through fishing, hunting, and fruit picking. 

Also, you will have the opportunity to prepare “Casabe” which is the primary food of the Secoya people and it’s made out of “yuca” or cassava. After your introduction to the elders, you can help to grate the “yuca” alongside the women. Each day the women harvest it from the plants growing right outside their homes. First, the “yuca” is cleaned in a bowl with river water. The women have already peeled it in preparation for the activity. You’ll get down on the floor of the house and grate the “yuca” on a punctured metal sheet.

The grated “yuca” falls into a wooden boat-shaped bowl about four feet in length made from a red cedar tree. Once you have finished grating the “yuca” or cassava, you can dry it, and then it will result in a crunchy tortilla made from this local root. This “yuca” tortilla or cassava is eaten with a spicy chili sauce. 

As you walk through the commune, you’ll notice that all the houses are on stilts. The fluctuations in the river can be many meters, depending on rainfall and the season. You’ll also have a chance to see the Secoya’s schoolroom. It’s just one room with five short tables for the children to study. Amongst the economic activities, they have lots to offer through handicrafts. The women in the community weave, do handmade pottery and jewelry, while the men in the community focus on crafting hunting tools like arrows and spears, as well as canoes, flutes, necklaces, and the characteristic feather crowns. 

If you want, you can get your face painted with the traditional red paint of the tribe. This type of art is truly an authentic expression for them and would love sharing this experience with you, it is like feeling part of the community. Some young ladies of the community will have already set up their handcrafted jewelry, which is made from the wood, seeds, and stones of the rainforest. The prices are very affordable and purchasing a piece of jewelry goes a long way towards supporting the Secoya community as their options to earn modern cash are limited. This experience is going to be memorable. The exchange of expressions and traditions are unique, something you will treasure from this encounter.