We went upriver in the canoe today, as far as we could go before heavy rapids prevented us from going farther. Some words that came to mind as I sat there watching the dense jungle flash by on either side — peaceful, untouched, remote. Kent says there are villages beyond the rapids, but you would have to hike into them. It is hard to imagine living in such a remote place. Kumanii and the nearby villages seem remote to me. No roads, no cars, no way in or out except by the river. But to live where not even boats can go? That gives whole new meaning to the word.
On the way back downriver, we stopped at a Chachi village to buy some baskets. Even after years growing up around poverty-stricken people, it slaps me in the face — the kids with their bellies swollen from parasites, dirty, ragged clothes, bare, muddy feet. So much need. And then the questions start gnawing at me — Why do I have so much while they have so little? Why do I have access to basic things like medicine, healthy food, clean water, while they don’t? Why are my children so privileged just by virtue of the fact that they were born Americans? What can I do for these people, these precious children, these struggling mamas? What can any one person do in the face of such obvious, desperate need? Where does one even begin to bring hope and comfort and a better life?
P.S. I don’t have any answers, by the way. The questions, they’re still gnawing.