Wasa Churi Cheif. Photo by: Chris Kilham © 2010

Wasa Churi Cheif

Wasa Churi Cheif leads early morning Guayusa ceremony.

One morning very early in Ecuador, I set out with about a dozen people from the small town of Archidona, out into the countryside. We arrived at a trail head leading into the forest by about 3:30 a.m., and set out from there to a tiny village farther into the woods. After about half an hour of hiking in the dark, we came to the Wayra Churi village, where about ten native people were sitting around a fire. We joined them, and watched as a woman placed leaves into a clay pot that sat on the fire. After the leaves cooked for several minutes, the woman scooped some tea out into a gourd, and passed that out. She did this with one gourd after another, until we all had some guayusa to drink. In the chill of the early Amazon morning, the hot liquid felt very good. As the sun’s first light scratched at the dark of night, we sat around the fire, telling stories, and talking about the invigorating effects of the guayusa.