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Monday, May 1, 2017

Did OSHA Approve This?? Things You'd Never Get Away with 'Back Home'.

In case you don't know, or don't live in the US of A, OSHA stands for Occupational Safety and Health Administration.  It's one of the many organizations that that try to ensure a safe work or public environment, sometimes to the point of overkilling the overkill.

When you travel somewhere, such as Ecuador, you're bound to notice things that are different.  I venture to say everyone who comes to Ecuador has or will see examples of situations you couldn't begin to get away with 'back home'.

The following photos made me say 'OMG...did OSHA approve this?' knowing there's no such thing here and giggling because there's no way in Hell they could exist back home in the US of A.  They would be torn down, or shut down, people jailed, fines issued, lawsuits filed....you get the idea.

Enjoy the 46 photos and maybe several laughs!!!


Two Strikes
1.  I had to drive across this riverbed to access the hotel in Mindo.
2.  That wonderful suspension bridge for the pedestrians to use.
What could go wrong?

I had my house painted.  There's a tall space and skylights over the stairwell.  How the heck would the painters reach that?
First of all, Ecuadorians are notoriously good at engineering solutions.
Solution:  Lay a steel ladder from one railing to the other, then lay a couple of planks the other direction, from railing to laddeer, then stand a ladder on those two planks, then climb the ladder (with a bucket of paint in hand) to the top, then try not to fall while painting.


Let's see.  This park would be shut down in the US or, at the very least, have a branch of Salatka, Jones, Steinberg, and Merle Law Offices within 100 feet...and ready to get you what you deserve!!   $$$$$
1.  Nothing cushy to fall on when you lose grip on the climbing wall.
2.  Someone could get strangled in that rope net.
3.  That suspended bridge (upper left) doesn't have siderails with gaps less than 3 1/2 inches square (so a baby can't get his head stuck).
4.  This park has a zip-line.
Nuf said.

The deck of a bridge I was about to drive over.
Yes, that's my foot.  Don't ever say I never include pictures of myself!

Workers making repairs to my roof because I had leaks.  The one guy is standing on the ridge, 3 floors up.

Ok, OK, so this bridge isn't being used anymore.  It's closed off.  But, it's pretty cool.

CLEARLY, no OSHA here!!  This guy had to paint a hard to reach area.
Solution:  Lay a plank across the balcony railings, then strap one end of the plank TO the railing.  Walk out on the other end.  Kinda like a diving board.

A zip line in Banos.
Hey, why shouldn't dogs be allowed to do it, too?

In Quito, you can climb to the top of the Basilica.  At one of the levels, we climbed a 'ladder' made out of re-bar (which, btw, was missing a rung) and onto an open area where you gazed out to the entire city.  When you reached the top of the ladder you had to crawl onto the floor.   Aside from the 2 'OSHA infractions' in the last two sentences, what could go wrong with an open hole in the floor???  Envision:  people milling about taking photos and absorbing the stunning views when suddenly...
FWOOOOP!!!
Hey, where did Maxine go?
No, that's not me in the photo.

This one has a whole buttload of infractions!!!  Believe it or not, this is a fairly common sight if you drive the highway between Quito and a bit South.  These are truck (sometimes bus) frames being driven from the factory to another location to be outfitted with a cab, etc.  If you look closely (or zoom in), the driver is sitting in a CHAIR!!!!   He's wearing a helmut and goggles.  The dashboard is protected in case it rains.
Just the sight of this could cause whiplash and other drivers to careen off the road!!

I was walking on this new sidewalk and not really looking down.  BUT, I did just in time to prevent not stepping into this hole and breaking my leg.

Along our highway in Cuenca (and also outside of Ambato) are steep bluffs that were not cut correctly when the roads were built and were often prone to slides.   To fix the problem, crews suspended themselves down the face of the bluffs and used picks and shovels to manually hack away at the surfaces.

Every day is laundry day in the rivers around here.


If you have a tall house, like I did, and you need work done on the upper level, but your ladder is too short...no problemo.  Strap another ladder onto the first one.  Those long extendable aluminum ladders are rare here because they're so expensive.  Much cheaper to MAKE a ladder out of eucalyptus wood.

Oh, and if you still need more height, use an old rotted wooden door and lay it across the steps and a sawhorse to create a raised and (semi) level platform.

In Banos, one of the most frequented waterfalls is called Diablo (Devil).  To get there, you have to cross a couple of suspension bridges and walk down narrow trails.  This particular spot is wet (from the mist of the falls) and it's a straight drop down to never never land.   Yep, those ropes will keep the public safe and secure.

I had cable installed.  Need I say more?  This is the cable guy who strung (more like flung) cable from the front of the building (about 100 feet away from my actual apartment), up over the top of the roof, down the side of the building, and in through my bedroom window.   Here, he's standing on the ridge of the roof, 5 floors up.   No problemo!!!

A normal bridge encountered all over Ecuador.  I don't need to point anything out.

Yet another one.

Fireworks in a crowded park.
On the ground, not aerial.
Before they ignite the show, they toss a handful of firecrackers on the ground to make the crowd move back...ohhhh, I dunno, maybe 20 - 30 feet.
The sparks rained down on the crowd.
OUCH!!
An abandoned bank building on the way to being restored.  They needed to create a platform from which to work.  Eucalyptus logs were jutted out the windows and tied down inside.  Then, more logs were straddled across those and planks added to create the work platform.
Railings?  PFFFFFTTTT!!!  SISSY!!!




BEFORE

and AFTER

In Banos, my best friends and I went zip-lining (aka Canopy).  These wooden platforms were pretty rickety and built right up to the edge of a precipice.  There was NOTHING to prevent you from stumbling off the platform and down the cliff.  Once you were connected to the cable, a staff person had you get down on your hands and knees.  Then, he/she would grab you by the ankles, lean back, and lift your legs until you were completely horizontal mid-air.  That's when he/she would let go and send you sailing across the zip-line.   Get this:  the staff person wasn't secured to ANYTHING!!!   It was only pure skill they didn't stumble or go flying WITH you hanging onto your ankles across a river gorge!!!!

Still in Banos, people visit the 'Tree House' high in the hills.  There, the operator built a swing that plays with the mind.  Standing on the ground, it looks normal and almost unexciting.  But, when you're the rider and you swing out over the bluff you get a large sense of swinging out over the world below....faaaaaar below.

Yep, another one.  There was an ice cream truck stopped along the road and a kid who lives across the bridge came running over.  He bought 5 ice cream cones and ran back to deliver them to his family.  No biggie.  No adult supervision.  Hey, it's just everyday life here.

Cuenca has been gradually rebuilding sidewalks.  In the process, they install new underground conduits.   But, they don't always cover the holes while the project is still underway.

First off, you probably noticed the big mud patch to repair the wall of this church.  But, did you notice the ladder?

What can I say?  I LOVE these bridges!!

City park in Guayaquil where iguanas roam free.  What could go wrong with a little girl pulling an iguanas tail?

Pedestrian bridge (still being used) suspended over the Santa Barbara river near Paute.
I dunno, I see a lot of rust.  And, the planks...well...look at the next photo.


Near La Troncal is a sulfur hot springs where two rivers merge.  In order to be able to walk up the other branch of the river, you must cross one river.  Just hang onto the rope!

Beautiful boat, eh?
Check out the scaffolding the worker is using to work from!   It's very common here to use bamboo to construct a scaffold.

Pedestrian bridge.

Yet another one down river.

Need a couple of strands of re-bar, ohhh about 30 feet long?  Hop on the motorcycle with your buddy and go get it!!
Jis gitter done!!

Dry your cacao beans on the shoulder of the highway.  Nice and toasty there!

Remember that truck frame whizzing down the highway some photos back?
Well, here's one with an unfinished bus frame on it.  But....see next photo.

...no windshield and, clearly, no seatbelts!  No problemo!

A rickety pedestrian bridge at the entrance to a NATIONAL PARK!!


Little nino riding atop a Chevy truck cab in the Christmas parade.

Saved the best for last!
It's not what you think.
Every New Years Eve, men get dressed up in bad/ugly drag and work the streets for tips.  All over the city teams drape a rope across a busy street to stop vehicles.  Usually they'll prance about.  If you tip them, they'll drop the rope and let the car(s) by.  It's a fundraiser.  What could go wrong with men in ugly drag, dancing around in the streets, stopping traffic with a rope, in the dark??

NADA
It's so refreshing living here and being able to do things that've become forbotten back home.

I remember, when I was a kid, going off for the afternoon into the gully bordering our home, climbing trees, hanging out over the highway on long limbs, dinking around in the creek (slippery rocks, wet wood) and everything was AOK.  No cell, walkie talkie, nada for Mom to keep tabs on me.  If that were to happen today, I'd be hauled off to Child Protective Services and the Police would be carting my Mama off to jail!!

Another memory...a wild one...from the mid 1960's.   We lived on the other side of an old wooden bridge. Our water line was ensconced in a wooden box filled with sawdust (to help keep the line from freezing), and ran along the edge of the bridge decking.  It got so old, the line froze on a regular basis and needed to be replaced.  

Dad, being a do-it-yourself, innovative, resourceful guy, rebuilt the line himself (with a little help from me, siblings, and I don't remember who else).   It entailed removing all the wood railings from one side of the bridge (yep, you read right), leaning over the edge of the bridge (the highway 50 ft below) and hoisting the old line up.  Then, installing a new line encased in foam insulation.   Visualize...it's wintertime, snow/ice on the road, no railings on one side of the narrow two-lane bridge, and a 50 gallon barrel with a fire burning in the middle of the road to warn oncoming traffic (and warm ourselves as needed).  We re-installed the railings and the job was finished and successful.

No permits.  No machinery.  No County involvement.  No one complained or batted an eye.  We were careful.  No one got hurt.

Now, everything is about holding everyone ELSE accountable but yourself.  It's everyone else's fault.

Here, in Ecuador, you make your own decision and take your own risks.  That's why we can still do things such as climbing a 500 year old cathedral tower, drive across a riverbed, improvise and engineer unique solutions, and pull on an iguana's tail.


Dano

6 comments:

  1. I find this so refreshing. We have become so risk-aversive and liability driven in North America that we have forgotten the notion of personal responsibility. We are being regulated into oblivion. It is destroying our ability to function as a society. It is wonderful to see that there are still places where people can make their own choices without having to wait for permits, permissions, or some sort of bureaucratic committee decision. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderful reminders of our wonderful country and your childhood memories of replacing the water line.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Funny and so true. In our visit to Ecuador we did see quite a few "OSHA violations" but we were not so clever to record them. Next time! Thanks for the "truth is stranger than fiction" picture album.

    Alida and Stan

    ReplyDelete
  4. You summed it all in your sentence "Now, everything is about holding everyone ELSE accountable but yourself.  It's everyone else's fault".

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dano, That's cacao drying on the side of the road. No problema!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Dano,

    Apologies for contacting you through a comment, but I could find no other way to reach you. I thought you might know women in Cuenca interested in this competition?

    I'm writing on behalf of the editorial team at Women Travel Latin America about our 2017 WTLA Writing Competition.

    We are now accepting submissions for the Alone Together anthology, which will be a book of travel writing by women and for women.

    We are passionate about empowering women to travel to Latin America. We want to see more women shake off any fears they may have, pack their bags, and explore new areas or revisit the ones that changed their lives in the past.

    We are looking for engaging, thought-provoking entries that explore the theme of women traveling in Latin America, whether alone or together.

    Share your stories with us; your unexpected triumphs, your moments of laughter or tears, the risks you took, the people you met, and the invisible barriers you broke along the way. Please join us in our goal of showing others that we can, indeed, travel alone - together.

    - Victoria

    Editor at Women Travel Latin America

    Find out how to enter the 2017 Women Travel Latin America writing competition on our website. It’s free to enter and the top prize winner will receive US$100. The top 30 entries will be included in the Alone Together anthology, published by the Bogotá International Press.

    http://www.womentravellatinamerica.com/2017-women-travel-latin-america-writing-competition/

    Visit our submission tips and guidelines pages for more information:

    http://www.womentravellatinamerica.com/submission-guidelines/
    http://www.womentravellatinamerica.com/submission-tips/

    We look forward to hearing from you!

    ReplyDelete

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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