The old cliché tells us that a picture is worth a thousand words. As painful as it is to hear this trite little expression, I think that it holds true. As such, I thought that for my last blog post of the program cycle I would throw together a little gallery of some of my favourite photos from the year to provide a concise little window into the past eight months of my life. Enjoy!
A local wind band comes out to celebrate the festivals of San Miguel, the patron saint of the town of Puela. The day is punctuated by fireworks, dancing, parades and, of course, the ever popular sugar cane moonshine.
Closer to the Sun
The snowcapped peaks of Mt. Chimborazo, the closest point to the sun on planet earth, rise high above the valley on a clear morning. In recent years this central landmark to the province of Chimborazo has stood as a reminder of the changing climate as its icepack recedes annually in step with rainfall and other important environmental factors.
It’s said that the indigenous people of Ecuador called the Andean staple crop of quinoa “gold” in regard to its incredible nutritive properties and ablitliy to thrive in harsh mountainous climates. Although this grain once composed an enormous portion of the Andean diet, in post colonial times the Andean people have shifted their consumption toward more resource intensive rice in order to sell larger quantities of quinoa on the lucrative export market.
A street vendor grills up some intestines under an awning in Riobamba’s western bus terminal. Countless people make their living catering to commuters and tourists in and around busses.
Every year on New Years eve men take to the streets dressed as viudas locas or “crazy widows” to dance for passing traffic, often blocking the road or climbing onto cars until they are payed for their efforts.
During the dry season controlled agricultural burns will often spread beyond the intended areas and spark intense brushfires. Rural firefighters do what they can to control the burn but often the flames are already out of control by the time they arrive.
“When I feel alive I try to imagine careless life – A scenic world, where the sunsets are all breathtaking”
The volcano Mt. Tungurahua (called “Mama Tungurahua” by Chimborazo natives”) launches ash five miles into the sky in one of the largest eruptions since 1999. The volcano is a key player in the lives of those living in the region as pyroclastic flow destroys homes and infrastructure, ash harms livestock, and people experience a high incidence of thyroid cancer as a result of airborn volcanic particulate.
Two potato farmers load down a mule with their harvest. A typical day of the harvest will typically yield around 5,000 Kg of potatoes suitable for sale on the market.
A group of students play tag after a day of classes. While the accessibility of small rural schools like this is important to isolated communities, many are being closed for lack of students in favor of larger centralized institutions as far as a 45 minute commute for many students.