Ecuador: Dugout Canoes and Family Portraits on the Onzole River

7 Oct

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We have now been in Ecuador for one month!

I’m sure time moves slower here. We feel like we’ve seen so much in such a short time.

Last week we were able to put our video equipment to use for a small school located in the squatter community of Bastion. Bastion is home to over 350,000 people in the city of Guayaquil. Through the years, more and more people have built homes over night on vacant property, until eventually a city within a city was formed.

Ironically, Guayaquil is known as the business capital of Ecuador. We visited a shopping centre that would give Vaughn Mills a run for it’s money. And it is a fifteen minute drive from some of the worst poverty we’ve come across here. The separation of the classes is much more evident than anything I’ve seen in Canada.

The Hope of Bastion elementary school was founded fifteen years ago, and has proven to provide children with quality education that the public system cannot afford to offer. We spent a day, interviewing Ecuadorian teachers, as well as speaking with some North American volunteers about the school – and visited a few of the homes of students currently attending the school. I’m looking forward to spending time editing the footage we shot, and help share the message of hope that this school has given many children, their parents, and the community of Bastion.

After we shot the video for the Hope of Bastion, we hopped on an overnight bus to a small town called Borbon, in the province of Esmeraldas. From here we took a three hour boat ride up the Onzole River, to a small community called Santo Domingo.

Throughout the course of the Slave Trade, Esmeraldas became a haven for escaped African slaves, many peopled carved out new lives for themselves in this province. As time progressed, and racism and slavery continued to be a reality in Ecuador, many Africans moved up the Onzole River – where there are still pockets of African American communities to this day. It was in Santo Domingo that we spent a few days volunteering our time.

For a number of different reasons, we decided to not shoot a video in Santo Domingo. But I really wanted to make some images. I decided a good way to do this, would be in a way that could directly benefit the community. I decided to offer free portrait sessions. When we get home, I plan to make some prints, and ship them to the individuals in the photos. This is quite possibly the first time they have had a professional photographer shoot portraits in the community.

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Of course, I couldn’t limit the portraits to only family photos…

I was absolutely stoked to be able to watch part of the process of making a dugout canoe. Many of the boats on the river are built with a dugout canoe influence, with an outboard engine on the back. But many are used in the traditional manner, by paddling, while standing in the canoe. Apparently it’s real difficult to balance in them. But we saw as many as four people all standing and paddling in a single canoe!

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Love Boat.

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5 Responses to “Ecuador: Dugout Canoes and Family Portraits on the Onzole River”

  1. mom October 8, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    You are right Cole. Such a beautiful people.

  2. Isabel Nolte October 13, 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    wow, incredible pictures! like io told you, i linked you on my blog – made a whole post about it, hope that’s okay?
    if there are roblems with the copyright, just tell me!

    http://isabelenecuador.blogspot.com/2011/10/cole-bennet-photography.html

    (and ja, in the link your name is spelled wrong, but in the post it’s not^^)

  3. Ron Easton October 14, 2011 at 8:02 pm #

    Hi Cole
    When you come back…if you decide to, can I write an article on your trip or are you already planning to do that? Would love to submit it around. Maybe one on your business…and Luke’s too for the Packet…whatcha think?

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