"Improving the health status of underserved populations through sustainable and comprehensive research, service and educational initiatives related to infectious diseases."

6th Tropical Disease Biology Workshop in Ecuador
Summer 2000


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Updated March 18, 2016
Created by:
T. Creamer & M. Grijalva 


For information about upcoming programs visit
the Workshops page or e-mail grijalva@ohiou.edu


The Rainforest and the Shaman

"My feet are wet, there’s mud in my shoe - this is awesome," Thom Schultz reflected while rain fell through the canopy of the primary rainforest.

"In the rainforest - it rains."

The four-hour morning hike led by Biologist Pablo Barragan was an Amazon extravaganza. Participants witnessed mosquito larva, a family of night monkeys, a large Amazon snail, a short-tailed fruit bat cave, palm trees and papaya trees growing wild.

Student Reflection

Amy McNamer
Senior, Biological Sciences Department, Ohio University

The wind rushed by as we traveled in a canoe down the Napo River, passing villagers panning for gold and children bathing.  After 20 minutes, the roaring motor stopped and the canoe grounded itself into the shallow waters.  We stepped onto the sandy shore and were lead into the Amazon Basin primary forest– our journey had begun. With every step, we were deeper and deeper into the lush rainforest.  The forest was so quiet and undisturbed.  For a biology student, this was paradise with insects, epiphytes, and possible encounters with bats, birds and monkeys in every direction.

Then, the rain began to fall - but being wet and covered in mud didn’t seem important.  If anything, I felt free from stresses of home - such as school, success and conformity to societies’ ideals.  After two hours of hiking, we reached a naturally formed cave that was the home of hundreds of bats. Being in the rainforest is a humbling experience, and I realized how small I really am in the grand scheme.  With the rain droplets still falling, one can also come to realize how to appreciate the simple things such as a flower or a refreshing rain. In the rainforest, I realized working together is the only way to survive and the only way to accomplish a common goal. 



Shaman at Mondana

On the last night at Yachana lodge, a local natural healer from the area the performed a cleansing ceremony on willing participants. "It was a calming experience, experiencing the culture in such a dramatic way is exciting,," reflected Tim Creamer, Ohio University photographer.

Student Reflection

Joel Andrews
Second year OUCOM student

In the United States we often turn on the TV after dinner and vegetate for the rest of the evening.  However, in the rainforests of Mondaņa the picture is considerably more unique – after dinner several students were cleansed by a local traditional healer and Shaman.  For $2.00 (US) each, group members had a three-minute session with the local king of rainforest karma.  The tools were a fermented concoction of rainforest plants a hand full of leaves from a cleansing plant, a few cigarettes and alcohol.

The three-minute ritual involved the blowing of face and neck, an entire body rubdown with the leaves, and multiple breaths of smoke blown backwards.  All of this was performed in a circle formed by the group and other lodge guests.  Everyone had a different experience - some felt relaxed and cleansed after the session, others thought it was perhaps a placebo effect, and some felt only as if they had alcohol blown over them.  Either way it was a unique experience appreciated by all.