This blog is supposed to address my personal experiences here in Ecuador as a young American abroad; however, for this particular entry I wish to share two poems written this year about two different locations in Ecuador – the town of Samé and the capital of the province of Sucumbios. I hope you enjoy!
In January, I traveled to the province of Esmeraldas for a week long workshop, reuniting all the Ecuador fellows for the first time since October. Esmeraldas is known for its Afro-Ecuadorian population (a group heavily discriminated against in country) and at the same time is a favorite vacation spot for its beaches. Samé is the town we stayed at for the week and pictured below.
Split open like a cracked egg
Samé spits out and takes in the azure Pacific
In place of a golden yolk.
It gazes on the ocean and digs into the washed bright sand –
A startling contrast of white and blue.
Cracked apart like an abandoned ground nut
Samé breathes in and out an Afro-Ecuadorian rhythm.
The heat heavy selva emblazons a wash of green banana leaves
And black brown trunks on my eyes.
The waves are far from my toes. Far from this rich dirt.
You are beautiful.
Your blue, green, white, and brown pigments
Painted in specified segments live in my mind.
How vibrant they are!
Your white fortress out of Tolkien
Casts a shadow on a forest it has never seen.
Samé. You are the same.
Why have you forgotten?
One of the worst environmental disasters in history happened in the Amazonian province of Sucumbios, Ecuador. The subject of the documentary, Crude, extensive oil drilling was conducted improperly by Texaco and large swaths of the rivers and people suffered from contamination. Officially, the capital of Sucumbios is called Nueva Loja; however after the drilling, the location has become colloquially known throughout the country as Lago Agrio. I have rarely ever seen the name Nueva Loja used, regardless of whether it is a newspaper or a road sign. As an additional twist of fate, the southernmost province in Ecuador, Loja, is known for being environmentally conscience and for lacking the trash filled streets found in most other regions of the country.
The Sour Lake
Lago Agrio has lost its name.
It fell victim to the tar pits,
The dust of airplanes, and oil drips.
A jungle water poisoned by money sounds
and green vegetation enclosing green minds.
Lago Agrio, where is your name?
Nueva Loja still exists;
I have seen it on a map.
A convergence of black lines
Printed in governmental green ink.
What are you?
Southern Loja runs with streams of blue health and age.
It breathes clear air and clean streets.
Nueva Loja breaths nothing.
A nameless and sour land
Tucked away in a corner
Of a tucked away forest.
Where are you?
No one seems able to tell me.
*The entire province of Sucumbios and the city of Lago Agrio is off limits due to proximity with the Colombian border so I have unfortunately not been able to visit this site in person.
* Lago Agrio means “sour lake” in Spanish.