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essays | places


a fuller year



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2013   part-time devils


   How do you write about a year that was fuller than others without emptying it? You don't. I won't. I'll keep this one to myself, generously, and this post-it will have to do until I find an empty novel to write in.


a glimpse

Indigenous kids in rural Ecuador

passages   SALASAKANS | And so the months passed by as the place kept me. Its spell felt like deliberate inevitability to me, some sort of circumstantial fate. I was stranded in a paradise. Salasaka. Melding yesterday and tomorrow today, the Salasakans knew something that was either long forgotten or far from discovery elsewhere. Their wisdom was intricate, their lifestyle so graceful. Everything was deeply rooted in bygone centuries, in the land, in Pacha Mama, but change was harvested everywhere. Salasaka was not a village outside the world or inside a vacuum. It was right there, where it seemed to belong, in a limbo between eras. Holding on to ancient knowledge while embracing the next generation’s wit, the indigenous life lingered beautifully and without haste on tomorrow’s verge.


Erupting Tungurahua volcano in Ecuador

passages   PACHA MAMA | I remember learning about Pompeii as a child – the petrifying bottom line was dreadfully clear: don’t live near active volcanoes. Be that as it may, what sounded like a nightmare back then became a dream come true later on. Living (not too) near Tungurahua in Ecuador put me face to face with nature’s might like nothing I’d ever witnessed before. It was marrow-deep awe. By day, Pacha Mama’s fiery womb would breathe enough ash into the sky to cover it wholly. Then, when night fell, lava gushed from it in fountains and trickled down the voluptuous slopes, the vivid scarlet glowing determinedly against the darkness until it cooled and blackened and bled into the night.



We'd go to Baños every other weekend, but to the hot bats we only went once. Too many. Too intense.

Baños / Ecuador · 2012   hot bats

When that pregaming is done well, and you know you might get lost on your way to the club, you're partying professionally.

Quito / Ecuador · 2012   Blues

Man riding in the back of a pick up truck in Ecuador

Pelileo / Ecuador · 2012    Angel


Monkey in the Amazon rainforest in Cuyabeno, Ecuador

Puerto Lopez / Ecuador · 2012    mini monkey


Humpback whale in Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Puerto Lopez / Ecuador · 2012    the wave of a humpback whale


Tungurahua / Ecuador · 2012    kill me there






places / stories

La Costa / Guns & Funs

Abandoned house by the sea in Ecuador

Cabo Pasado / Ecuador · 2012    an unlikely house to abandon


I've always been a coast person. But living in the Andes changed my perspective on many things. The coast was still what the coast was, but the mountains had become something else entirely. And I missed them just then. And I missed them more, after what happened next.

Tent pitched by the sea in Ecuador

Cabo Pasado / Ecuador · 2012    pocket home


I already told you that story:

reads | shortest stories


They asked for water. When I turned back around, three shotgun muzzles were pointed at us. I would have cursed the map right then, but there was no time, and my tongue was in my stomach. read more

La Sierra / A Year, a Life


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    pre-festivity


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Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    Chimborazo & Carihuairazo



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    snack bar



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    fixing the past with plastic


The indigenous life, the old life, the wise life, the nature life, the life life. 


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    shady



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    backgammon


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Adriana, Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    There is mischief in every nook and cranny of Adriana’s face and the mind behind it, and with the power of wit and innocence, she has brought her art to perfection. Her catch phrase: "Sabes que?" to which people reply "que?" which the brilliant prankster answers with "nada."


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La Casa del Arbol, Baños / Ecuador · 2012    swing with a view for the daring



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    new shoes


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    bye bye blues


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Cotopaxi / Ecuador · 2012    straight up


Cotopaxi / Ecuador · 2012    open air freezer



Tungurahua / Ecuador · 2012    yesterday lava, today snow


The community was strong and self-governed. There was no police in Salasaka. None needed. The few crimes that were commited despite the severe castigations, were severely castigated. Solidarity was strong. Solidarity built houses and cooked communal meals. You need something done? Minga. Done.


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    food by the bucket


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    minga


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Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    Día de los Muertos, día de los borrachos


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    mega cake



Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    pregnant piñata


The people, the life, the place, the work – it was a beautiful puzzle coming together and I was there to give it all my attention.


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    the view we had then


Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    all those lights, all those nights


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Salasaka / Ecuador · 2012    green river


Tungurahua / Ecuador · 2012    many mountains away



Chimborazo / Ecuador · 2012    the closer you get to the sun, the colder it gets


La Selva / Organic Oneness


Cuyabeno, Amazon / Ecuador · 2012    tree entourage



Cuyabeno, Amazon / Ecuador · 2012    beer boat


Nothing exists alone in the Amazon. The whole thing is one voluptuous organism, every being a cell, a node, a necessity for the larger cause. Predator and prey, tree and river, they all move into the same direction, not just in union, but in oneness.


Cuyabeno, Amazon / Ecuador · 2012    big leaf, small frog


Cuyabeno, Amazon / Ecuador · 2012    mean fella, one of them




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