Images acquired on a bus ride from Ambato to Guayaquil, Ecuador. 08.08.06

-Rust iron spokes sticking out of the roofs of half-finished houses. Some are short and trimmed, like stubble, while others are long and flexed, like laden bamboo stalks. Nearly all the houses — even the most well-off — seem to have them poking from their tops, so that you can see directly into their skeletal foundations.

-Young boys playing in a homemade boxcar, debating who would wear the battered silver helmet and command the hill.

-Cloud tendrils creeping down a valley, viewed from above as our bus zooms around the mountain top.

-Whipping around the edge of a valley, a quilt of farmed plots. Massive vertical strips of land, some black – just plowed – and some golden green – ready for a corn harvest, it seems. The steepness of these strips is amazing, they swath the land hugging every curve and hill as if the earth were a woman. Cows, horses, and llamas dot the countryside.

-A Quicha woman trekking through the hills, who looks up just as the bus rounds the corner. She is old, cane in hand and brown fedora fixed upon her head. A fleeting burst of bright pinks and greens among the shrubbery. We lock eyes briefly, and then she continues collecting wood as I crane my neck while the bus drives away.

-A sign in a dusty village: “Discoteca: Una noche en Nueva york.”

-A Quicha mother and child standing on the other side of the bus. The baby is no more than a month old, its head the size of my first. Its eyes are wide open and rarely blink, as if perpetually terrified. It scrunches up its face, but its lungs are still too weak to cry.

The mother seems old, probably much older than she actually is. She’s dressed similarly to the other women on the bus – a dark blue or brown skirt in a heavy wool fabric pleated multiple times at the waist, no elastic, just a woven belt tied several times over (coin purse hidden amongst the folds). Stockings or knee socks end in scuffed loafer shoes. An impecably white blouse is tucked into the skirt, and then covered by a bright green wrap with looping gold embroidery around the edges. Coral red beads with gold accents adorn her wrist, neck, and ears, and a brown heavy felt hat with ribbon band and feathers tilts precariously off her head.

-Streetside graffiti: “Roldos for Presidente,” “¡Cynthia Presidente!,” Che Guerva face stencil and “¡El Socialismo!”

-Various odds and ends sold by vendors walking up and down the bus:

“habitos” – peanuts, corn, and potato chips, caramelos, mandarin oranges, water, cola, coconut juice, music CDs, gum, inspiration books, fresh lemon juice out of peeled lemons, hot corn on the cob, yogurt pops, ice cream, cheesecake flan, empanadas, popcorn, medicinal herb powder, kebobs, CDs complete with impromptu concert, drinks in plastic bags, chicken meals in bags, and lamb – a whole lamb carcass brought onto the bus and hacked off right in front of you.

17 Responses to “Images acquired on a bus ride from Ambato to Guayaquil, Ecuador. 08.08.06”

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