On a recent trip to Ecuador, I had the fortune of traveling to El Valle del Chota, a town about 3 hours away from the Andean country’s capital, Quito. I traveled with a small film crew on assignment for a documentary, Dreamtown http://www.voicesofdreamtown.com directed/produced by Betty Bastidas, which follows three Afro-Ecuadorian soccer players at different stages of their careers as they pursue their dream- – achieving a better life, financial security through the sport.
While I was in El Chota just for one day, walking around its dirt roads, meeting the friendly, smiling faces that greeted me at every corner, I couldn’t help but to be immediately captured by the beauty of the simple way of life, and the utter beauty of the Andes embracing its fragility.
Perhaps it was because I went void of any preconceived ideas of what I might find, so many people had spoken of the town’s poverty and marginalized Afro-Ecuadorian community. “No opportunities exist,” I was warned. So there I was on a hot, sunny Sunday attempting to capture a critical moment in one of our characters, Carlos Maldonado, life as he realizes his World Cup dreams might just have been shattered after losing a soccer contract. But there it was… within the dilapidated, humble and quite small houses that I felt were large enough to home families…. faith. Faith in a better future. Faith that no matter how little one has, there will be enough to go around. That the next-door neighbor, or the one down the block, opens the door to you with caring, and that the community really is invested in everyone’s security. Doors unlocked, neighbors are neighbors looking out for each other. Children with holed-shoes are passing a soccer ball to one another. All smiling and calling out for better passes.
This touched me. This inspired me to think deeper about what motivates a story, and where within us do we need to go to strip our vanity and tell a story with real, down-right honesty, simplicity and passion. It’s not what we may think sometimes, or the attitudes that we are better off so we MUST be in a better place to know real happiness and privilege. For me, I realize, it’s about capturing unshakeable faith in each other. This I had to share.