Southern tip: An epic tale of South America


Posted in Uncategorized by tothetip on December 9, 2009

The doctor sterilized the tweezers to investigate the wounds of my foot. “Take a deep breath, and if you have to, shout, this is going to hurt.”

“Ahh!” The worse part was not the metallic tweezers piercing through the infected holes in my skin.  The worse part was the news that came after, “A fly has laid eggs in your foot.” The words eggs and fly began to boil in my brain and I wanted to shout, “Doctor, please cut off the foot!”

The egg-laying incident might have taken place in the island of Limones or in the river village of San Miguel.  I’m not sure.  It could have been in Borbon. When we began the Esmeraldas journey we went without a specific plan. The idea was to document the Afro-Ecuadorian province in one week. This project marked the beginning of our long journey through South America.  The warnings began to inundate us before we left for the coast: “Take care of your equipment, Esmeraldas is very dangerous… Do not drive at night… Beware of the Colombian guerrillas… Did you read about those tourist who were raped and killed?”

In the 1500’s, African slaves began to arrive to the area now known as Esmeraldas. One of the legends is that a boat full of slaves that was headed to Peru shipwrecked close to shore.  A group of African slaves were sent to find fresh water and they never returned.  If this had happened nowadays people would have said that they did not return because, of course, they were robbed.

Luckily for us, the worries of a dangerous and unfriendly province vanished in the first days of our trip. We found in Esmeraldas what you find in any other province of Ecuador: stories, sorrows, Correistas and non-Correistas, fried chicken, fries with watered down ketchup, posters of the governor of California in some action movie, etc.  The only difference is that in Esmeraldas this all happens under an intense heat. It is a mixture of calm and quiet blue places with others that are ignited with colorful lights and blasting music. There is a lot of poverty and violence and yet it has a rich cultural heritage, which the people proudly try to maintain.

In our trip across the green province we discovered hidden places and met characters who became our friends even though we might never see them again. The fishermen say that everything is a matter of luck, sometimes there are plenty of fish and sometimes nothing bites. Sometimes you are so lucky that you run into a pregnant fly who picks you as a surrogate mother.


One Response

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  1. Miguel said, on January 25, 2011 at 2:01 am


    I’m from Chile and read the article of the Domingo en Viajes about you. I think that photographies taken for you are really wonderful and realist. Good stories and nice job.
    Congratulation from Chile.

    Miguel Aravena Cofré.-

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