It was always my dream to backpack in another country, so for my 60th birthday, I decided to visit Ecuador. I looked forward to experiencing something new each day, and to follow my passion for plants.  I was absolutely amazed at what I learned about medicinal plants of the jungle of the Amazon. 

My first adventure was exploring the jungle with a Gia (guide) named Patrick. 

A funny story was that I thought I was going on a one day adventure, but after a fifteen minute drive, Patrick explained the itinerary mentioning a sleep over at the Quechuan village.

WHAT? A bigger adventure. 

I immediately asked to stop and buy a toothbrush.


What followed was learning about the Quechuan people, their traditions and crafts, the medicinal plants, and the various waterfalls.  

We participated in their dances, got our faces painted by the children from a red color fruit that is from the Achiote tree. Then we were lucky enough to view and purchase their jewelry made from the plant seeds and vines.

Patrick then took us on a four-hour journey down a rugged jungle path warning us not touch anything because of the possibility of being bitten by a spider or insect.  That added to the difficulty of the journey, but added to its excitement.

We were instructed to put our hands into a termite nest, then gently rub them all over our bodies for an effective, nice smelling mosquito repellent.

I wasn’t sure how I felt about killing the termites, but at least I didn’t get bitten by any mosquitoes.

During our hike, Patrick went to the river and came back with some blue mud known for its detoxifying qualities.

After smearing that blue mud all over our bodies, he pointed out the various medicinal plants.


The four plant medicines I gravitated toward were dragons blood, kunapipara sinutus, chuchuguaso, and last, but not least, the cocoa plant.

The natives collect this resin/juice from the dragons tree for their medicine and to help provide for their families. It is used for stomach issues, healing of the skin and is known to be used for acne and to build collagen.

The Kunapipara plant drips a liquid collected for medicine.  Breathing it in through your nostrils, it will quickly clear any congestion in your head and chest.

We all did this part of the experience correctly; it burns a little, then is followed by a flow of mucus from your nose. 

Sounds unpleasant, but it’s very effective; my cold was cleared immediately.



The third plant, Chuchuguaso, also drips a liquid used as an antiseptic.

If you are in the jungle and get a cut, drip the juice from chuchuguaso on it, then cover it with a dragon’s blood band-aid. 

Pretty handy.



My favorite edible plant is definitely the cocoa plant, surprise. 🙂

I had the opportunity to harvest and process chocolate, which is pretty simple. Just pick the ripe pod, open it up and suck the white creamy sweet coating off each seed in the pod. The seeds are put out to dry, and after several days, the seeds are roasted and the outer covering is separated from the inner seed which is the chocolate. The chocolate is then ground down ready to eat.

They made us hot chocolate which was super delicious.



Now the Waterfalls


The waterfalls were spectacular! Swimming near and under them was definitely a highlight of my trip.

Pictures are worth a 1,000 words!

Who doesn’t like being at the end of a rainbow!

Be looking for dragons blood in NEW skin care remedies by JenZen.