Wandering through Cuenca one sunny morning, I came across these an old man selling books….
My latest series of photos are very much influenced by Mark Ryden. His photo exhibition from 1997 has intrigued me for nearly fifteen years. “The Meat Show” evokes strong feelings. Often times I find myself perplexed by his images. They are disturbing and beautiful, all at once.
Ryden’s cartoonish paintings often depict small children, meat, as well as religious images. The combination of all of these subjects continues to amuse me. They are darkly satirical. They speak volumes about certain aspects of American culture. The photos I’ve taken in Ecuador tell a different story. The photograph above was taken in a small town roughly sixty miles south of Guayaquil, near the coast of Ecuador. I was traveling in a van, which had slowed down due to traffic on a dusty road. Beaten motorcycles sped past in a flurry as several heavyset women carrying sacks of maíz hobbled across the street. The scent of carne wafted through the humid coastal town. Large metal hooks hung from bodega storefronts. Chunks of vermilion red meat and various sausages hung from the giant hooks, evoking an authenticity I rarely see back in the states. Mesmerized by the sight of all of the meat, I took the photo.
The remaining photos were taken during my first trip to Ecuador, back in August. I took the photos in a large market south of the city where I spent my days volunteering with a local volunteer agency. Towards the end of my day, I wandered around the enormous market and marveled at the two hundred or so local vendors selling anything from fresh avocados to pig intestines. Large sacks of various beans and endless wheelbarrows overflowing with every kind of fruit imaginable. Giant slabs of meat glistened on blood stained countertops. Of all the things at the market, the meat intrigued me the most. I found the lack of sleek packaging and hormone injected meat very appealing. The absence of any kind of regulation was both refreshing and jarring. I decided on the day that these photos were taken that I was going to take more photos of meat. Meat! This continues to be an ongoing project….
Cuenca is a lovely city located in the highlands of Ecuador. The city is surrounded by mountains, and is incredibly lush and beautiful. Four rivers run through Cuenca, making it an incredible city to photograph. Aside from Cuenca’s natural beauty, the city if dotted with dozens of historical sights. The most popular landmark is the Cathedral of the Inmaculada Concepción. This stunningly beautiful church is located in the historical center of Cuenca, surrounded by palm trees. Built in 1880, the cathedral is hardly the oldest in a city founded in 1557, but it is one of the city’s most beautiful. I recommend visiting Colonial Downtown, as well as The Plaza of San Sebastian. So far, Cuenca has been one of my favorite cities to visit in Ecuador.
I am back in Quito. I returned to Ecuador on Halloween. After spending nearly two months back in the states, I felt compelled to return to Quito. My previous trip in August was inspiring, so I decided to return. I am currently working as an English Teacher, and trying to get an extension on my Visa so that I can stay longer. My Spanish is improving, and I am traveling quite a bit. My hope is to stay for a long time.
"Not all those who wander are lost." ~J.R.R. Tolkien
Amina Abu-El-Hawa Photography
with random molecules floating around the universe
A bucket list blog: exploring happiness, growth, and the world.