Salome Chuquitarco: 30 Years in Rumipamba

DSC_0130 Unlike the majority of Rumipamba’s founding community members, Salome did not move to the area from one of the Kichwa communities near Tena. She and her husband José and their children moved from the highland city of Latacunga over 30 years ago. The government was offering land at a low price, and for once they could afford their own decently sized parcel. The Amazon is a very different environment than the Andes, and it was a difficult adjustment for Salome to leave her homeland and build up their farm from nothing. Being far from her family was one of the hardest things about living in Rumipamba in those days. Still, they had land, they had a spring where they could collect their water, and soon they were producing their own food. Then the oil company came. Texaco’s arrival in the area led to the construction of the Via Auca road that now runs through Rumipamba and oil wells. Salome remembers the first spill into the stream nearest to their home, and how her children would track the crude oil poured onto the road into her home. While she and her family did suffer from the usual skin conditions and stomach ailments attributed to water contamination, fortunately none of her children became fatally ill. However, it did become more and more difficult to grow crops. Now, their family chacra only produces a small amount of plantains and yucca that they are able to consume. They opened a small store out of their home and this is how they sustain themselves to this day. DSC_0128Salome is mestiza, not Kichwa, but she identifies with her neighbors and her community. Her daughter married a Kichwa man and through her daughter Salome learned the Kichwa language. She participates in the mingas and prepares chicha in the Kichwa fashion.