Tag Archives: Ecuador

A Film from Ecuador: Escuela speranza de Bastion

26 Nov

It’s been a while.

It’s been a while since my last blog post. And it’s been a while since we shot this film in Ecuador.

I’m happy this is the case, with the film anyway. I’ve learned so much in the past year about myself and about filming and piecing together footage to tell a story. I’m glad that we took the time needed to produce a video that we’re happy with (both my self and the folks who help keep the school ticking), and one that showcases the wonderful atmosphere of Escuela speranza de Bastion (Hope of Bastion School).

I’m not going to fill you in on the details about the school. But I will say that these kids are disappointed when summer holiday comes around, because they love being in school so much (this also says something about the neighbourhood they live in). I will also let you know that each student is sponsored to be there. Francisca, who’s now in university, was sponsored to attend the school back when it first opened. If you’d like to find out how to get involved, contact Nikki Horne, through their website: www.sponsorhope.ca 

The audio was recorded and mixed by my audio extraordinaire brother, Luke Bennett.

A bulk of the commercial projects I have been working on in the past month are for internal use, and as a result can’t be shared publicly. So, this has kept me very busy with work, but with not a whole lot to blog about. Cracking the hood open on the old blog has given me some ideas for future posts. I plan to be back in the game in another week or so.

Until then, Buenas Noches, Amigos!

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.

Ecuador: Indigenous Market, Inca Ruins, and Cuenca

26 Sep

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Crater Lake, Quilotoa. Approximately 3900 meters above sea level. We got headaches from the lower oxygen level. An absolutely magnificent view. I’m sure I have done it no justice with this photo.

We’ve now been in Ecuador for two and a half weeks. It feels like we’ve been here so much longer!

In looking back at the images I’ve taken in the past week – I feel like I have three separate places/events that I want to share.

The first stop is a famous Indigenous Market in Guamote, which happens every Thursday. We arrived in the morning by bus and walked up and down the streets, gawking at the vendors and their products. I’m sure we stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the crowd of Ecuadorians, dressed in their traditional indigenous clothing – all there for the purpose of buying or selling. I hired a tailor to sew an Ecuadorian patch on my backpack. He used a foot pumped sewing machine that I’m certain would be sold as an antique in Orillia! I doubt the patch is going anywhere.

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The next place we visited was Ingapirca – the location of an ancient Incan and Cañari ceremonial and political structure. 500 years ago, the Inca’s travelled from Peru into current day Ecuador. They encountered a people known as the Cañaris, with whom they strategized a co-existing relationship.

Forgive me if my facts are a little off – But here’s what I gathered from the short tour – I found it incredibly fascinating (call me a nerd.)

The Inca’s and the Cañari’s had some very important differences in culture and worship. The Inca’s worshipped the sun as their god. The Cañari’s, the moon. The Inca’s were lead by male leaders, and the Cañari’s were a matriarchal culture and society. The Inca Pirca structure was built as an important political and religious common ground, which allowed both cultures to practice their own faiths, together. The symbolism within the structure goes far beyond this blog post – but it was amazing to touch stones laid 500 years earlier – and to learn of the practices of the two cultures. While the Inca’s are notorious for being a violent and ruthless people, their method for domination was not always through war. As time progressed, the Inca’s quality of living would rise above the Cañari’s, and they would eventually go as far as bringing Cañary men back to Peru to work as slaves on their now famous ancient structures, such as Machu Picchu.

Ingapirca was eventually abandoned, due to a civil war that broke out between two Inca Kings. The main structure that stands out higher than the rest was later discovered by an explorer in the 1700’s. The rest of the stone foundation was not uncovered until the 1970’s.

The fields surrounding the two temples are now spotted with alpacas, goats and pigs.

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For the past couple days, we have been in the wonderful city of Cuenca. I think it is safe to say this is my favourite big city we have visited here in Ecuador. It’s colonial streets are cobble stone, and lead to many tasty foreign restaurants (and finally a decent cup of coffee!) There are many large catholic churches boasting beautiful architecture, carvings and paintings. One church Lydia and I visited was built in the 1530’s! It is all wood inside, but made to look like stone. I stood and stared at a painting that was made in the 1570’s.

A newer church was built in the 1700’s, to take the place of the older one, and it also has a stunning exterior and interior.

Cuenca is a relatively popular place for North American’s to retire, and it has been a great place to relax, eat some great food, and get rejuvenated for more backpack lugging.

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Oh yes, and I should mention that the ‘Panama Hat’ actually originated, and is manufactured in Ecuador. The misleading name was acquired due to the fact that they have always been shipped internationally from Panama. Most of the hats are made here in Cuenca. Quite an interesting process as well – but I’ve babbled on long enough!

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Thanks for checking out my photography, I hope it inspires you to experience more of this big planet!

Ecuador: Great Big Country

19 Sep

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If you look on a map and compare the size of Ecuador with other countries in the world, it doesn’t look very big. But I have been continually amazed by the overwhelming size of the landscape here. Mountain upon mountain rise into the distance – and standing on the edge of a precipice, or looking through a bus window, I am in awe, realizing people have navigated and formed roads, towns, and lives in this terrain.

The image of the tree at the very bottom of this post is a shot taken by my wife, Lydia. My brother Luke and I should help with the scale. The tree is HUGE! Should you want to visit it, you can find it in the small town of Misahualli – which is also a great place to get things stolen from you by rascal monkeys in the town square. We watched a man get his hat grabbed off his head, taken onto the roof, worn around mockingly by a little monkey who then left the hat in a tree! I had a monkey slip his hands in my pockets, looking for treasures.

We have had many adventures here in Ecuador so far, and if all goes as planned we still have a month of adventuring ahead of us. For now, I wanted to share some images of the beautiful landscape, as well some images that depict the way in which people travel across it.

Thanks so much for checking it out. If you would like to stay up to date on our trip, feel free to subscribe to my blog via email to the (readers) right of this post.

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Ecuador: Quito in 3 Days

10 Sep

I don’t even know how to begin writing about the past three days.

All I can say is, I have fallen in love with travel. We have been in Ecuador’s capital city for not even a week, and I feel like I have experienced so many new things in a very short time.

I’ve stood on the equator, entered the most beautiful churches I have ever seen, photographed a 150 year old shrunken head, and been 4,100 meters above sea level – all in three days!

We are all very tired. Luke, Karlie and Lydia are all sleeping as I write this. We have walked many kilometers around Quito, and even visited a zoo out of town.

Tomorrow, the plan is to visit a natural hot spring.

I am in awe, and am realizing more and more how large this planet is – and how little I know about anything! It is humbling to say the least.

We are all working hard at learning basic Spanish. Far less people in Quito speak English than I expected. I am guessing as we venture out of the city, english will become even more scarce. But folks around the city have been very gracious with us, and always have a good laugh when we try to say little phrases.

We have felt very safe almost the entire time we have been here. Though, we did travel a little off the gringo path in Old Town- and I got kicked by an elderly lady. She was angry about something and Luke said “no hable espanol” and she went off and kicked me in the leg! We decided to head back and take a taxi up to where we wanted to go! My leg is okay ;D

I could ramble on and on, but would prefer to share some images from the past three days!

Thanks so much for reading! If you haven’t already done so, you can subscribe to the blog via email and get updates of our trip throughout. I will try my best to share interesting things!

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