Living and Giving

The Wisdom of Ecuador: Welcome to the City of \”Shell\” (Part Two)

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This is the second of an eight-part series on my volunteer trip to Ecuador. This is an unedited account of a personal journey and will be followed by stories from a few more of my international volunteer trips. Many of the experiences on these trips would become the impetus for founding UniversalGiving™. 


Welcome to the City of “Shell”

We arrive at Shell, yes — a town named for the oil company.  Shell came in to find oil, stayed two weeks and left. The name stayed. 

Here we wait, and wait, until the rain stops. We have to wait for a window; the pilots are excellent and will not take off unless the best of flying conditions. Especially since some of the runways are just brown-red earth dirt, which gets mucky for landing or takeoff.  A small plane, 10. 

Above in the air…while I calm, myself in this light plane buffeted rain and winds – chocolately thick, wide rivers wind and winding – demonstrate my first exposure to the Amazon.  I am so very grateful to be here.  What an honor: I am going to and get to see the Amazon and work with the indigenous people on its preservation!!

In the forest…Broccoli next.  The trees look like broccoli florettes clumped and apart dotting the land, and it is so refreshing, nourishing to see a land so well-fed by water – probably due to me coming from California.   So my appreciation factor was higher.

Landing – into rain.   We then we walked-slip and slid on mudded paths to get to the canoe on the river.  It’s a very powerful feeling to be a part, part of, on the river…it is the beautiful, flowing river with nature and forests and life and richness and diversity on every bank. 

The sounds are at first overwhelming…hundreds of different birds, bird calls.  They call light, lilting or harsh and quick clipped. Flocks of birds fly from tree to tree; chimpanzees, with babies clinging to their fur, start at the top wavy branches of trees and let their lithe bodies fall, literally, to the next branch.  Trapeze artists who play with the air rather than a prop, and there is a beautiful harmony…flow…trust… in their falling and catching the next branch.  It’s an instinctive art, natural, and a kind synergy between the life of the chimpanzee and his trust of the tree.  It’s an alive partnership.


You can take action.  Support projects in South America:

Give $10 to plant a tree in the rainforest
Give $25 to give water to a villager
Give $115 to give light to a villager
Volunteer in conservation in Ecuador
Spend the summer teaching in Ecuador