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Chagras Ecuador
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Chagras Ecuador

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Cattle round up in Ecuador

Cattle round up in Ecuador


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  • 1. Chagras: the Spirit of the highlands
  • 2. History
    • The word Chagra comes form the Quichua word “Chakra” that means parcel or piece of land.
    • These Andean cowboys developed their specific cultural aspects after the Conquest.
    • They were the men of confidence of the Spanish; there fore the Spanish taught them the art of horseback riding (an activity that indigenous weren’t allowed to do) and the skills to deal with brave bulls.
  • 3. Who they are?
    • Chagra is a complex word. It is a cultural way, it is a profession, it is a lifestyle.
    • It is a character that resembles the people that lives, rides and work in the highlands in tight relation with brave bulls (wild cattle).
    • Even it has become a pejorative word to refer to someone that’s “rustic”.
  • 4. Who they are?
    • Chagras are mainly men.
    • It is not an ethnic group.
    • They are Mestizos (descendents of Indigenous and Spanish people)
    • Have good riding skills.
    • Participate in cattle round ups and rodeos.
  • 5. Daily life
    • They live in traditional huts made form hey and wood.
    • They life with their wife’s and kids who cultivate the land (limited variety of crops due to altitude).
    • They have chicken and guinea pigs.
    • They own cattle, horses and dogs.
  • 6. Daily life
    • Chagras will round up the highlands daily to check on the cattle.
    • Some chagras life in small towns, and some in isolated areas.
    • They hunt.
    • They take care of their horses, brake young colts and teach them the chagra horse skills.
  • 7. The P aramos
    • Highland ecosystem
    • Fragile ecosystem
    • Average altitude 3200 mts- 4800 mts (after that we have permanent glaciers)
    • Vast open areas that surrounds peaks and mountains
    • Plenty of wetlands and swamps
    • Native animals such as Andean spectacle bear (rare), puma, mountain tapir (rare), deer, rabbit, Andean fox, condor, eagles, caracaras.
  • 8. Hacienda El Tambo
    • Hacienda El Tambo is located on the Central Andes of Ecuador. On the slopes of Quilindaña Volcano and Cotopaxi Volcano, on a privilege area known as the “land of the four corners” due to the volcanoes that surrounds Cotopaxi.
  • 9. Hacienda El Tambo
    • Tambo on Quichua language means: “place to rest”. This inns were strategically located every day of walking distance during Inca times. And this Tambo was located on one of the roads that connect the highlands with the Amazon Basin Jungles.
    • During the conquest the Jesuit arrive in the area and claimed the land for the King of Spain. They destroyed the Tambo and with that carved stone they build the corrals that will hold the cattle that they introduce.
    • After hundreds of years, the house was restored with part of the Inca stone, and the corrals that build the Jesuit kept holding the cattle during the rodeos.
  • 10. Hacienda El Tambo
    • Facilities
      • Hacienda El Tambo is now a days a Mountain Lodge that can accommodate up to 18 people.
      • Hot water, chimenys, restaurant and social areas available.
      • We don’t have electricity, but we have an electric plant that lights up the house at night and that will serve to recharge batteries for the cameras.
    • Right next to the house we have a set of 6 huts where other chagras live. This will be the place were your team can sleep during the film.
  • 11. The heroes
    • Manuel 69 years (right) and Celso 43 years (left) Changoluisa.
    • Father and son
    • Both well known chagras
  • 12. Manuel’s Home
    • Manuel’s home consist in the main hut where he and his wife Lusmila live. They have the choz on where they store wood and saddles. One small hut for chickens and one that they use as a storage room.
  • 13. Manuel’s home
    • For privacy reasons, space and cultural ways I don’t think that staying at Manuel’s house is a good idea. The team can sleep on a chagra hut, right next to the hacienda. This is located 1 km away form Manuel’s house.
  • 14. Manuel’s Home
    • Inside the huts there is no natural light. There is no electricity as well, so filming will require artificial light.
  • 15. The Chagra Gear
    • They wear: Poncho, zamarro (chaps), boots, hat, scarf.
    • Horse attire:
    • Western saddle, reins, pell on (saddle padding), beta (leather rope for lazo)
  • 16. Celso
  • 17. The Rodeo
  • 18. The Rodeo
    • The rodeo or cattle round up comes from the word “rodear” or surround.
    • It consists on rounding up the cattle that pastures freely on the mountains (the land of the hacienda) and put them into the corrals.
    • We have 1 annual rodeo and 2 “repuntes” or smaller rodeos during the year.
    • The rodeo is the most important event that takes place at the haciendas of the highlands.
    • Family, chagras and friends gathers together for 8 days to work, ride, eat, drink, sing, laugh, cry and dream together.
  • 19. The cattle
    • Brave cattle: bulls and cows, with Spanish brave blood on their veins, which have adapted to the highland rough conditions. They life on a semi wild status.
    • El Tambo has around 1000 cattle
  • 20.  
  • 21. Planning the rodeo
    • Planning the rodeo involves a lot of logistics since more than 100 people will stay at the hacienda for the following 7 days.
    • Most of the work assigned during the year to the chagras that work at the hacienda is related to the improvement of the next year’s rodeo.
    • We first invite the neighbours, other chagras living within the area, to participate on the rodeo. It is a reciprocity relation in which they help us and we are expected to help them back. They receive a daily payment for their job.
    • Women that cook for the chagras are also invited. They will attend the chagras and pamper them with plenty of food, hot drinks and alcohol during the whole stay.
    • Other chagras will come form far and remote places to join us, since this rodeo is very popular among chagras.
  • 22. The Rodeo: ritual and maximum expression of chagra culture
    • Arrival day to the hacienda. Adrenaline can be felt on both: people and horses. Meeting of friends that haven’t seen each other. Drink, talk and sleep.
    • D1.- First day of rodeo. Usually not as crowded. Lost of excitement. Chagras show proudly their new horses and attires to their mates.
    • The bomba is held. Welcome greetings by Patr on Juanito, the owner of Hacienda El Tambo.
  • 23. Rodeo Day by day
    • D1-D6 Each day we work on a different area of the hacienda. Work consist on an early morning “bomba” were the instructions are given. Then the group is divided into smaller groups that will be doing the “paradas”, strategic places on the highest points of the mountains where the chagras will wait until everybody is in position.
  • 24. Rodeo Day by day
    • Once the chagras are on position they will burn some hey to make a smoke signal and all the chagras will begun to go down on a U shape figure with the cattle in the middle, leading the cattle towards the corrals.
    • Some of the cattle will escape, so the chagras will chase these bulls and lasso them in the middle of the highlands.
  • 25. Rodeo Day by day
    • The idea is that the amount of animals that escape and doesn’t get into the corrals is the minimum.
    • Once at the corrals the animals must be separated (mothers form calves), breeding bulls form youngest bulls, animals that are going to be kept form those who will be sold.
    • We vaccine and put antiparasite medicine to the animals that are kept.
    • We mark them and finally release them to the paramos until next year.
  • 26.  
  • 27. Animals at the corral
  • 28. Working at the corral
  • 29. Hot iron
  • 30. Women serving lunch
  • 31. La fiesta
    • Every night after the corral work, chagras and family gather at the huts to sing and drink and to talk about the day.
  • 32. Cotopaxi
  • 33. Patron Juanito
  • 34. Sold cattle
  • 35. The family
  • 36. Future Chagra Generation