Sea lions and fishmongers

Begging for scraps

The small-scale fish market in Puerto Ayora draws a crowd every day as fishermen bring, gut and hawk in their catch. And that’s not just a crowd of people.

Sea lions and pelicans also gather to pilfer and pinch scraps and sometimes whole fish. It’s a comical scene, as the fishermen are not technically allowed — National Park rules — to swat or otherwise harm the pesky-but-cute critters.

This is small-scale fishing that is generally far more sustainable (and in the Galapgos, more regulated) than elsewhere in the developing world. It’s also a significant part of the local economy, one affected by tourism, as restaurants and, at least, boats buy locally.

But having been underwater for many hours in the islands and having talked to a number of activists, it seems clear that the ocean flora and fauna remain under significant pressure.

More photos of the fishmongers below.

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Se vende pescado

Jungle protein

Fish, both caught in rivers and brought in from the coast, is a primary protein source in the jungle. Though local people also eat chicken and to a lesser extent pork and beef, fish is cheaper and easier to procure. These photos come from the main market in Puyo.

That’s, of course, because it is wild caught and therefore the true cost is not factored in to the price. I’m a convert to the “fish are friends, not food” crowd because of the destructive and unsustainable nature of most fishing operations above the level of one-human, one-rod.

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No place like any place for futbol

The main market in Puyo is as good a place as any for a one-on-one futbol match. Brother and sister occupy themselves in an empty aisle, while their family sells produce nearby.

Futbol is the sport of choice in Ecuador — though a weird version of volleyball where “carrying” is allowed comes a close second. One of our volunteer activities was clearing a football pitch for the Arutam community. We also later put up new goalposts.

For the record, I had never actually played futbol prior to coming to Ecuador. The closest I had come: kicking a ball around a small backyard in St. Louis. But now, though I am horrible (que horrible!), I love it. The Shuar brothers (and other volunteers who could actually play) were gracious enough to humor me in regular afternoon games. See below.

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Puyo, a jungle market town

Cheep, cheep, fun, fun

I spent several weekends catching up with the world and shopping in the Amazonian market and transit town of Puyo. It’s about an hour by bus from Arutam and a major hub for all the rural communities around.

Puyo is essentially one big market, with few other attractions industries. Store after store sells basic dry goods, fresh foods and agricultural supplies. This is the backbone of the jungle economy. Below, we have dozens of varieties of maiz, fresh vegetables and an armadillo on a butcher’s hook.

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Village markets, small economies

Waiting for dad to buy dinner

Wednesdays are market days in Bhuriakop. That means a few merchants set up shop in the misty valley and locals stock up as much as they can.

Usually there’s a vegetable vendor or two, a clothing man, a spice wallah and a few other sundries. Otherwise, shopping takes place in larger towns which are half an hour or more by jeep.

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High pressure sales

Silk, glorious silk

That’s silk-wallah Om Prakash Jain in the background. He runs an upstairs shop in a back-alley garment market in Bikaner.

Firangi walk by and he orders up cups of tea and unfurls his wares. With me, he did not make a sale. But I thanked him repeatedly for the chai.

Low light photo, unfortunately.

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Some like it hot

Hot food, hot nights

Laal mirch and more from the Fatehpur Sikri bazaar. Feel the burn.

Flavors galore

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Who needs a supermarket?

Corner store, redefined

Most of my daily needs are met by small-time bodegas scattered throughout neighborhoods. The above shot comes from a strip of road between Darjeeling and Ghoom.

It’s like this in much of the developing world, where supermarkets and giant shopping centers are still a very new concept.

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Saturday night kebab lights

Sparks fly from the charcoal grill on a busy Saturday night

I continued my research on the best chicken tikka roll in India this Saturday night. A new friend led me to Arabian Delights in Defence Colony Market, which she swears by, it was closed by the time we got there; thankfully, Colonel’s Kebabs around the corner was happy for our business.

The Colonel does a decent job (see below); we devoured our food and sipped Hoegaarden illicitly in the parking lot — a great cap to the evening —  but my Khan Market kebabwallah remains on top.

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A year-in-review

2009 kinda kicked ass

2009 kinda kicked ass

This past year pretty much rocked. And the New Year came in fine manner.  No kisses, but a bonfire amid the palm trees (above), new friends, lobster, a decent cigar (thanks, C!), champagne and even the Harry Connick, Jr., band playing Auld Lang Syne at midnight (never leave home without the iPod).

I meant to post this sooner, but here’s a little look back at my new life (as chronicled on this blog):

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