Puerto Francisco de Orellana, commonly know as El Coca, is a small city at the confluence of the Coca and Napo Rivers in the Ecuadorian rainforest. There are many monuments to the discovery of the Amazon River by the Spanish conquistador Francisco de Orellana here. He led an expedition with more than a thousand indios to try to get to El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. The expedition went through the Napo and he “discovered” the Amazon River. El Dorado was never found and almost all of the expedition died. But he got the credit for the discovery of the biggest river in the world, taxes from the newly discovered tribes, and many monuments. He also had an Ecuadorian city named after him. That's not too bad. Unfortunately, the indios did not receive any monuments. Maybe that's why the city is better known for it's nickname, rather than it's official one.
Most of the inhabitants came here to work in oil related businesses from all over the country, but since oil prices are getting lower everyday, work is also disappearing. Recently Petroecuador, the state owned Ecuadorian oil company, let go 1200 people and all of them worked in this city.
However, people in this region keep on smiling and making it difficult to take “serious” pictures. When they see a gringo faced guy behind a camera (i.e. me) they start shouting “se te va a romper la cámara” (your camera will break), making the joke that they are too ugly to be
photographed. What they don't know is that for me, beauty is boring, plane and uninteresting.
I am posting some pictures of the third day in town, which was the first I could really shoot throughout the day. It was raining the first two days. Walking through the city I came across a really colorful house which instantly hooked me. I couldn't resist and rang the bell. When Fausto Chicayo opened the door, I told him the truth: I thought his house was amazing and wanted to take some pictures of the decorations inside. He let me in. Another example of “the camera is a passport to other people's lives”, like Diane Arbus once said. Let's see if you can spot which pictures were taken there. (It's really easy).
About the Manta-Manaus route? Some people have heard about it, but they were really pessimistic. They say it's too expensive and there is no money. “It´s better the government gives jobs to poor Ecuadorians and not money to rich Chinese investors”, somebody told me on the streets.
Next stop: Puerto Providencia (the future Ecuadorian port in the Amazon rainforest)