Photo: Baños, Ecuador


A girl swings over the abyss in Baños, Ecuador. photo by Katherine Nagasawa

My friend Leah took this photo of me last summer during a six week trip to Ecuador to shoot a documentary on the fair trade banana industry (you can learn more about the project at  During our travels across the country for interviews, we took a detour to the central town of Baños, known for its views, waterfalls and hot springs.  At sunset one evening, Leah and I took a cab up to "Casa del Árbol,” a tree house with a simple wooden swing propelling visitors over a cliff’s edge and into the abyss.  After watching Leah go first, I decided to take the leap.  The following minute is cemented in my memory—the whoosh of damp air as I glided over the lush valley below, the glow of the sun's last rays illuminating the rumbling Tungurahua volcano in the backdrop.  Inolvidable.

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