Before They - Photography Project by Jimmy Nelson

X. Argentina + Ecuador

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Argentina + Ecuador
From Buenos Aires, prairies and flatlands, we travelled south to mountains and glaciers to photograph the Gaucho’s. One of the highpoints was something called the Day of the Gaucho. Every four years, the few remaining Gaucho families come together in the Pampas and essentially have a weekend-long picnic. It’s a true celebration of their culture. Everyone comes and camps around a stage and everybody’s dressed up. There’s tango music playing and there are barbeques everywhere. 
"The whole scene is like something straight out of a 1950s Spielberg movie"
To Ecuador by plane, east from the capital Quito towards the Amazon rainforest. From there on we continued our journey by boat to remote villages and the Huaorani tribe. While Central America is ethnically and anthropologically very important for this project, it’s not very photogenic. The jungle isn’t the romantic place many people think it is. It’s dark and wet, there are no views. It rains a lot and it’s full of insects and other creepy crawlers. 



View tribe ›
Nomadic and colourful horsemen and cowboys have wandered the prairies as early as the 1700s, when wild Cimarron cattle overpopulated the flatlands. In the 18th century, when leather was in high demand, Gauchos arose to clandestinely hunt the huge herds of horses and cattle.
“A Gaucho without a horse is only half a man”
The word ‘Gaucho’ was used to describe the free spirits, inseparable from their horse and knife. Over time, when extensive portions of prairies were settled and commercial cattle began, there was less room for the Gauchos to roam. As their way of living changed, the legend of the Gaucho grew.



View tribe ›
For at least a thousand years, the Amazonian rainforest of Ecuador, the Oriente, has been home to the Huaorani (meaning ‘human beings’ or ‘the people’). They consider themselves to be the bravest indigenous group in the Amazon. Until 1956, they had never had any contact with the outside world.
“As our ancestors live, so will we live; as our ancestors died, so will we die”
Huaorani are outstanding hunters and feared warriors. Threatened by oil exploration and illegal logging practices, their hunter-gatherer society shifted to mostly living in settlements. They have a vast knowledge of animals, plants and trees, which stems from a total reliance on the natural world.