Vagabonding Field Report: Dengue Fever in the indigenous village, the jungles of Ecuador


the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador


Cost/day (for a family of five):

  • Rent in the indigenous village- $3.50/day
  • Food- $15/day (we bought and cooked our own food or picked whatever the land provided)
  • School- kids attended for free, in exchange for us teaching English
  • Hospitalization and medications- free

Strangest thing we’ve seen lately:

Before his wish to die, but well after 40 degree fever and horrifying nightmares, the kindly villagers performed ritual healing ceremonies on my husband Kobi. They picked two of this leaf, four of that one, this root, that berry and cooked them over a banana-leaf-sealed open-fired vat. Then, with ritual prayer chanting, candles, and incense burning, he was stuffed under a dozen thick blankets to breath the steam, drank a cup o it, and bathed in the waters. Their love and earnest determination to cure him were touching. Two days later, he was hospitalized.

the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador

150 year old tree bled















A typical Amazonian Paradise day:

Jungle village life was ever-changing and yet so much the same. Each day, availed new opportunities like that expedition to cut down this 150-year old tree for a canoe, like that time the village kids climbed like monkeys to gather fruits from four-stories high trees, and like the day we (unsuccessfully) begged the kids to return from their weekend in a neighboring Quichway village. And yet, everyday, we sat in that river, washing our clothing and our souls, day after day, for the village was the first time in our lives, we allowed ourselves to be unproductive, to do nothing, all day, every day.  A typical day of no tourists, no internet, no computers, phones, gadgets, or attractions began by sending the kids to the Indian school, and progressed into meandering in the village kitchen and food hall, the river, and the grounds. Once Kobi was hospitalized, our days were peppered with drives back and forth to the nearest town.

the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador

Village girl bathing in the river

Fascinating conversation with a local:

I met one local with whom I could discuss Ecuador’s hysterical deforestation situation with. As you’ll see and hear in the Intoxicating Their Own Rivers video, the locals use, rob, abuse, and intoxicate the land for everything she’s got not because they don’t care, but because they need what she has to give their tribe now.

the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador


What we love and hate about village life:

We adore-

  • doing nothing
  • listening to the village chief play his ceremonial flute
  • hearing our kids say things like “Kayagama” (see you tomorrow) and “saki” (stop it) in Quichway
  • having the kids fish, clean, and fry their own dinner, and wash their own laundry in the river
  • living like the locals here in the village
  • how the river rises with such rage after the rains

We do not enjoy-

  • those evil mosquitoes after the rains
  • Kobi getting dengue and getting sick three times afterwards
  • trying to spoil each village kid with our ‘rich’ foods as a break from their corn porridge but ending up promoting them to sneak food
the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador

Our kids attended the indigenous village school


A challenge we faced: 

Letting go of our need to be productive and to constantly work on and offline was very challenging. When you become addicted to online social media and the internet, stopping cold turkey is tough. The pace of village life, the lack of connectivity options, the seclusion in the jungles, the kids being so immersed and involved in village community life, and Kobi getting sick all pushed us towards an unplugged six-week spiritual retreat.

What I learned:

I learned two powerful lessons, lessons I seem to have to re-learn again and again.

1- I learned that no matter how much I swear with great determination not to fall in love this time, it doesn’t work. I’ve learned that bits of my heart will remain scattered in this river and that hallway forever. I’ve learned that no matter how determined I am not to leave, broken-hearted, that the joy of dancing upon this globe is lined with the pain of leaving what you love behind. I articulate (and sing) it sweetly in Describing What My Soul Cannot Yet Contain.

2- I learned that the world will go on, peacefully, productively, and joyfully, without me. I learned that turning off my plugged-in addictions turned on silent reflections and spiritual growth that I could have never imagined possible. This video, I’m Sorry, reflects the heart-felt understanding of what it means to disappear and what the soul can learn while busy in just being.

the nomadic family in the jungles of ecuador


Where next?

From the jungles of Ecuador, we proceeded to Banos (ironically named ‘bathroom’ in Spanish) to amazing waterfalls and vistas, and on to camping and surfing off the beaches of Huanchaco, Peru.

Gabi Klaf and her family, currently in their third year of non-stop rtw life on the road, are currently reporting from Malaysia at

Posted by | Comments (9)  | April 24, 2013
Category: Family Travel, Languages and Culture, South America, Vagabonding Field Reports

9 Responses to “Vagabonding Field Report: Dengue Fever in the indigenous village, the jungles of Ecuador”

  1. Val Dawson Says:

    That sounds like such an amazing experience! I wish I could have had these kinds of experiences in my childhood!

  2. gabi Says:

    val. it was unreal. quite beyond words. thanks for seeing the magic of it. never imagined we’d live with the indigenous in the jungles. :-)

  3. Korina Says:

    Wow Gabi, that just sounds amazing, I would love to do that with my family, how did you manage to organise it?

  4. Gabi Says:

    hi korina, this is gabi. it was unreal. how did we organize it? we randomly walk the streets of this small town and that one telling locals we’re looking for a place to stay, and lo and behold, someone always knows someone who finds us a cheap place. we do it all over the world and thus far, have not been murdered and have loved every authentic experience. you can find more on our blog and facebook. hope you guys will one day go off on your adventure. hugs to you, gabi

  5. The Nomadic Family No Longer Nomadic? New Changes Looming Ahead | The Nomadic Family Travel Blog Says:

    […] didn’t imagine we’d live in the jungles of Ecuador with an indigenous tribe, or we’d fall in love with so many than-strangers across the globe,  or that I’d lose […]

  6. I Live In A Postcard- Our First Island Jungle Trek And The Most Beautiful Beach In The World- Koh Rong Island, Cambodia | The Nomadic Family Travel Blog Says:

    […] Vagabonding Field Report: Dengue Fever in the Indigenous Village, The Jungles of Ecuador | Vagablogg… on I’m Sorry […]

  7. Jussi Says:

    Baños in the case of the city, does not mean “bathroom,” it means “baths,” that is, bathing places.

    I thought this was quite amusing: “I learned that the world will go on, peacefully, productively, and joyfully, without me.”

    Only narcissistic and coddled people like Americans, Canadians, and other Anglo first-worlders would need to learn something so self-evident.

  8. Jussi Says:

    For Dengue: check out Youtube. Sorry to hear about your husband’s dengue. It is a painful disease–I had it too.

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