New Project: El Último Hielero

I’m very pleased to announce that we have started yet another project. I am in the beginning stages of shooting a short documentary called El Último Hielero, or The Last Ice Merchant.

To explore the rapid generational changes within indigenous communities, I’m following a man named Baltazar, who is known here as the last ice merchant. Twice a week for the last 55 years he has trekked over 10 km to the fossilized glaciers on Chimborazo—to an altitude of about 16,000 feet—with his donkeys. There he hacks away at ice, breaks it into blocks, wraps it in hay and brings it back down to store in a hole in the ground so that he can sell it at the Saturday market for $2.50 a piece.

I followed Baltazar for two days last week to shoot preliminary footage and am coordinating time to head over for an extended period. Following is a promo video to show what exactly he does as a hielero.



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Video: Trenzas de Paja

Trenza, simply translated, means braid. Paja, slang aside (more on that here), means hay. In this video, I follow Rodrigo´s workers as they create trenzas de paja, which they will string over their new thatch roof to help prevent wind damage. The benefits of this building method are twofold; it is both ecologically sound, being made of the same locally grown plants as the roof, and it is a decorative finishing touch for what will soon be a home. By the end of the process, a 25 meter rope has been spun from nothing more than a loose pile of hay.



Quick note: You´ll notice that there are actually two languages being spoken in this video. You may recognize the Spanish, but the other one is Quichua, a language that you´ll hear frequently within the Andean indigenous communities.

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