Just came back from my sixth trip to Ecuador ( I've also spent time in Colombia and Peru on these trips), five weeks in all, which is my shortest trip ever! I know Ecuador like the back of my hand now... I've been all over the country , and especially have spent quite a bit of time in the Amazon, and glad to say that I have lots of indigenous friends there.
It never ceases to amaze me, though, that when I come back from these journeys, how much of a better writer I become, even without knowing it! It's like it opens you up and totally shifts your perspective, shakes it up, and in a way, you become a much richer person for it. When I went there my first time, I barely knew the language, didn't know anybody there and didn't know what i would do, but wound up staying six and a half months, travelling, volunteering on organic farms and indigenous/jungle projects. When I returned to New York, it was as if I had discovered a whole other part of me that I didn't know even existed before, and it made itself evident, especially in my writing! At the time, I was in the middle of writing my memoir - The Edge of Whiteness (later published here originally by OTP), and it had such a profound effect on me that I could scarcely believe it. I later went back many times for long periods and many adventures, and each time it enriched my writing immensely. I suggest that every writer take journey somewhere and I think you'll be you'll be amazed at how it profoundly affects your writing!
The Edge of Whiteness - www.joemontaperto.com