American-born photographer Thomas Ives 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.
Carnival ride in Vilcabamba
A small carnival arrives in our pueblo once a year. It has four or five foosball tables with freshly painted uniformed figures, a neumatic trampoline enclosure for the kids to bounce themselves silly on, and a couple of kiddie rides. My favorite ride is the carousel with gondolas.
There is something mysterious and inviting about these hybrid figures waiting stoically under a dusty scalloped canopy for night to come so they can come to life and ferry excited children for a dozen turns in the glare of colored florescent tubes with folk music blaring.
They remind me of my youth, waking up and remembering that something important is happening today … the carnival is in town! Cotton candy, barkers, fat ladies and Kewpie Dolls. But most enticing were the rides: The Octopus: (“Please keep your arms inside.”), The Barrel: (centrifugal force pins you to the walls while the floor falls away), and the Yo Yo: (screams from start to finish.).
A few of the larger traveling Ecuadorian carnivals have variants of these big adrenaline pumping rides, but it’s this small family operation that shows up with little if any fanfare that is big on heart.
I return at night when the carousel is slowly rotating with duos of kids sitting side by side in heart shaped seats smiling as they pass their parents, spinning the little steering wheels and hoping the ride never ever stops, and that the catesque figures embracing them come to life and . . .
— Thomas Ives
Photo taken August 2015 in Vilcabamba. Copyright © 2015 by Thomas H. Ives; Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org