Noe O. Vaca
“Cumanda: The Story of the
Ecuadorian Jungle”

Noe O. Vaca, known as “Ozzie” by his friends, became an elementary school teacher at the age of 19. He also coached the school’s soccer and basketball teams, led a Boy Scout troop and founded an acrobat squad. He moved to New York in 1969 and South Carolina in 1979 where he met his wife Edith and became an American citizen. He is spending his later years translating and interpreting English and Spanish.

The House of Ecuadorian Culture awarded the rights to translate a classic story by Juan Leon Mera,  who was known as the father of Ecuadorian literature. For the past 130 years, Latin Americans have enjoyed this great work. Now English-speaking readers will be able to enjoy the newly translated version of Cumanda: The Novel of the Ecuadorian Jungle.

Noe O. Vaca loved this story so much as a child that he wanted to share it with the world. “Throughout my life I wondered why one of the most important novels of 19th Century Latin American literature was never offered to English readers,” he said, “Then I thought to myself, let me bring to life this tale of star-crossed lovers staged in the lush Ecuadorian jungle. The story is a national  treasure of my native Ecuador.”

At the time, Christian missionaries wanted to convert everyone to their religion. The landscape, villages, lakes and background of Ecuador are brilliantly described, as the book details the bloody revolts that are taking place with the invading Christians.

In this gripping story, the family and goods of rancher Juan Domingo Orosco were destroyed, as revenge for the maltreatment and abuse of the savages. After the revolt, Orosco converted and became a missionary priest who worked with the tribes. He devoted his life to God and became a Dominican friar, working among the native people of the jungle.

Juan was always accompanied by his son, Carlos, who became very fond of a young Indian beauty named Cumanda. She saved the young white man’s life many times. Soon Carlos and Cumanda become close, but their union is  opposed by many, including Cumanda’s father. The couple bravely defends their unique love for one another until Cumanda, forced to marry a Jivaro chief in order to spare the life of Carlos, is sacrificed according to the customs of the tribe. The story takes an unusual shocking turn that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

“Cumanda” highlights obligations and complex situations that people who are fighting to stay in love against the norm often face. “Within the dramatic-tragedy, you’ll find a thoughtful examination of race relations and the assimilation of the indigenous people of Ecuador to a Christian-based society,” says Vaca.

“Cumanda,” as pictured above, has won awards in Ecuador as well as a Pinnacle Book Achievement Award from NABE. The book retails for $17.49 and can be purchased on the web at You can also find more info on it at Dealer inquiries are invited. For a review copy, send an e-mail to