Moderate rain had forced me to take shelter under a large avocado tree near the Rio Yambala in Vilcabamba.
I had closed my eyes so I could concentrate on the air-born smell of petrichor, that universal scent that wafts up from the soil and plants during a rain. It always transports me back to my Midwest childhood where I would hide under a gigantic yellow forsythia bush in the side yard and watch robins pull worms from the rich earth during spring showers.
I heard footsteps and opened my eyes to see this family heading for the main road. I had passed them earlier that afternoon when they were sitting on a sandbank snacking and watching their children play in the frigid water that courses down from the Podocarpus. This afternoon cloudburst had brought their day out from the nearby city of Loja to an end.
Under dark skies they slowly walk two abreast behind the older son who was gently kicking a football over the gravel trail. His interlaced hands over his chest mimicked those of a pious prelate leading a religious procession. They were walking in silence, their pace was neither quick nor lazy. Rivulets ran from their heads. down their faces and arms, drenching clothes and soaking shoes.
None of them took notice of me. except the girl at the end. who glanced at me with a bemused smile and slight shiver. I took one snapshot with my phone camera and they were gone.
This encounter offered further confirmation for me regarding Ecuadorians world view: it is more Buddhist than Catholic! Acceptance and letting go come easily! In this instant the follies of fate appeared to me to be more of an opportunity to reflect, through unhurried gait and silence, the life giving qualities of rain rather than rain as an inconvenience.
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 lives in Vilcabamba with his Ecuadorian partner. For more about Thomas, click here.
Thomas Ives may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and more of his work may be seen on his Instagram account: thomas_h_ives