Southern tip: An epic tale of South America

Montubios: The Ecuadorean Cowboys

Posted in Uncategorized by tothetip on December 9, 2009

We avoided taking showers for a few days.   Eventually there was no way to escape it.   Naked in the small cement bathroom, about the size of a closet, with a toilet at one end and a drain smack in the center, I lifted the pail over my head and dumped the freezing cold water.   I wanted to scream.   I have never felt so alive.  As my nipples hardened I reached for another pail full.   Now I was living like a Montubio.

The Hacienda Mariana was a dusty group of houses located miles down the back roads of Mocache, a cowboy town outside of Quevedo.  The people of Mariana were proud.  They were poor, but unlike many of the people in neighboring areas they worked for themselves.   There were no wealthy Guayaquileños telling them what to do.   Their land was theirs and nobody could take that away from them.

The Aguayos were a group of brothers.  They were the owners of the Hacienda.  Their parents, Eusebio and Genoveva, handed it down to them.  Joel the oldest of the Brothers was 82.  When I stared into his weathered face his eyes told me he was friendly, but tired and worn down from a full life on the hacienda.

Pedro Pico ran the show at the Mariana.   He was short, but to make up for it, he was tougher and prouder than any man in the whole province of Los Rios.   He was the son of Segundo, one of the Aguayo brothers, and his wife was a tall dark beauty named Silvia.

Pedro seemed to enjoy the Rodeo more than anyone else.    He’d tip the whisky bottle up towards the sky and let it run down his throat like water down a drain.  Then he’d get on a wild horse and ride it for what seemed like an impossible amount of time.  I remember him hanging on for dear life off the side of a horse’s neck.  The crowd loved him and he loved the crowd even more.  It was his moment in the spotlight.

The rodeos do not always have happy endings.  Pedro’s brother, Manuel, fell hard off a wild horse and ended up dying from the injury.  He was only a teenager.  This didn’t stop Pedro from risking his life.  He rode twice as hard for his little brother.   As Pedro’s uncle put it, “We wait all year for the 12th of October, to enjoy ourselves, and watch people fall hard to the ground off wild horses.”  The traditions survive the tragedies, and the Rodeo Montubio lives on, even though there are sacrifices.

The beautiful part of this experience was that the people of the Hacienda Mariana took us in like family.  Every morning we were served a fried egg with fresh patacones (fried plantains), ground pepper that was grown on the farm, and steamy cocoa.  At night we would play soccer with the kids in the warm air.   Before bedtime, Don Ramon Aguayo would tell us stories deep into the night.   When I took my last Montubio shower it was routine.  The cold bucket of water seemed familiar, a comforting ritual.   As we pulled away in our dusty Vitara, some of our newfound friends had tears in their eyes.   In the end, our differences, which seemed so large at first, were actually minute.  We all have a bit of Montubio inside.


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