Friday, May 13, 2011

Life Along The Road

On Sunday Walt and I headed out from Quito to go to Coca, an oil field town out in the Oriente on the eastern edge of civilization - seriously.  It is in the Amazon River Basin and there is little between Coca and the Atlantic Ocean - except for a few Auca (Huaroani) jungle tribes - but that is another story!  Walt's been there also!

NOTE:  All of these photos are taken from a moving (read careening very fast) vehicle up or down and around a mountain and it's raining.  Therefore the quality of the images is often blurry at best.  But my purpose in this is to tell the story of how these people live in the campo (countryside) of the Oriente.  Which is, literally, along the road.

 We left Quito which sits at about 10,000 ft elevation, climbed up over the cordillera (top of the Andes) where the road is at 12,800 ft elevation (Walt's watch tells the elevation) and then down to 700 feet at Coca.  In this image we are nearing the highest and the terrain is called the Alto Plano - high plains.  The vegetation is totally different and awesomely beautiful.  You can see the raindrops on the windshield.
 Remember, you can click on these images if you want to see them full size.
 Pickups in Ecuador rarely travel empty - they are either loaded down with stuff or people.  Walt and I wonder if the drivers charge their "passengers" but we don't know that.  This image is taken high in the Alto Plano and it is obviously quite cold at this elevation in the back of an open pickup.
 These folks have it a little better as they have some cover from the rushing cold air.
 An Alto Plano cow pasture.
 This is typical of the houses at these high elevations - much better, tighter construction than down in the jungle.
 The major highways from Quito down into the Oriente are all finished, but they all had bailey bridges given to Ecuador by the U.S. in order to travel to the oil fields when the original gravel roads were built.  When Walt and I lived here in '92 to '95 the roads were all still all gravel and took eight hours to get from Quito to Lago Agrio - it was exhausting.  It's amazing now to be able to get from Quito to Coca in four hours.  WOW.  These bridges are now being replaced by permanent structures.
 Waiting for transportation (?) to take a bunch of bananas somewhere.
 This is good!  These folks have slaughtered a pig and are using the water coming off the side of the mountain to wash it up.  If you look closely at it, you can see the pig in the tub!
 Water, water everywhere.  It rains constantly in the rain forest (!) and all that water has to go somewhere (eventually to the Amazon River).  As we drive along we can see water coming off the mountains everywhere.  These falls are rather spectacular in that they're not so hidden by the forest.
 Beast of burden.  Whatever they have to do in order to move goods along the road.  This horse looks in pretty good shape - some don't look nearly so well cared for.
 Another place along the road where the water is rushing down off the mountain and some enterprising folks have attached a hose (?) and use it then to wash their trucks - and whatever else.  There's no such thing as a truck wash - this is it.  Remember, this is a third world country and we are out in the campo.  The sign says you can wash your cars and trucks. 
 Here is one place where the pipeline is visible.  All the roads down to the oil fields are built along the pipelines - duh.
 The people who live here are very poor and few have cars.  They walk everywhere to which they cannot find some other mode of transportation.  Not too many are overweight.  Along the road.
 Because there is so much rain and moisture there are constant mudslides.  I have no clue how many we passed along the road on this trip down and back up.
 I know there must be serious accidents and deaths along the road - the people are always on them.
 This is one of the bailey bridges that has not yet been replaced.  They are single lane so if there is oncoming traffic one must sit and wait.
 Lots of cows along the road.  Much milk and meat.
 Another mode of transportation - an empty truck.  (The windshield is wet of course.)
 A house - along the road.  You can see how close it is - and it is a sheer dropoff behind the house.
 I guess this must be the sidewalk.  Chickens run loose everywhere along the road.

 This little girl looks quite pathetic.

 You can see the little riding toy this child is on.
 We're still pretty high and it is rainy and wet so both these boys have pulled their hands up inside their shirts.
 Another bailey being replaced.
 I love this picture with the squiggly sign and then the wooden gate leading to wooden steps going up the hillside to a house.
 Going somewhere - along the road.
 Virtually every house has some kind of shelter built in front of it along the road because they are always waiting for some kind of transportation and it is frequently raining.  This little shelter is quite well done with a bench and even has shelves for whatever kind of produce they put out to sell - could be anything.  The land is quite productive.
 These folks look like they are doing nothing but sitting here socializing.
 Big smile from this lady and little girl.  My camera is large and it is obvious as we drive along that I am taking pictures.
 These shelters seem to be frequently used for visiting.  This was on a Sunday so many of the little villages had futbol (soccer) games going on.  Everybody goes to these games.
 Another beast of burden.  This man is carrying probably 50 lbs of potatoes on his head.  Wow.  The woman is carrying the machete!  It is not at all unusual to see people walking along carrying their machetes.
 Another opportunity at a tumbling stream to stop and wash the truck.
Just waiting - along the road.  They have bundled up huge bean pods that a certain tree produces.  Not at all sure what they do with them.

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