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Expat Life

Straight from the heart

Work hard, play hard!

Saturday morning finds this worker sleeping on a pile of empty cement sacks at a construction site in Vilcabamba.

His young co-workers smiled when they saw me quietly studying him: his gentle posture, beat up hands, broken fingernails, strong arms, slip on shoes instead of construction boots, the ubiquitous baseball cap.

One laughingly indicated with an extended thumb and little finger wagging in front of his mouth that the napper might be … well … maybe a bit chuchaqui after a night of celebrating. Most of the work crew laughed softly in confirmation, some looked at each other with raised eyebrows.

Later, I asked my Ecuadorian partner if he would be fired or docked pay for showing up less than enthusiastic. She said no, “Almost everyone has been there, they will let him rest, then try him out to see if he can keep it together. If not, he will be sent home to recover.”

Work hard, play hard, recover hard.

— Thomas H. Ives

Photo taken in Vilcabamba, Copyright: Thomas H. Ives 2015, Contact: codexoceanus@gmail.com

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Thomas Ives is an American-born photographer who has worked for international news and feature magazines for over 38 years. His photo essays and images have appeared in National Geographic, Time, Geo, Stern, Newsweek, Life, Smithsonian, and many others publications. He currently lives in Vilcabamba with his Ecuadorian partner.