The Last Ice Merchant

Baltazar Tenesaca is the last of his family to work the Ice glaciers of Mount Chimborazo, Ecuador. He began mining with his father when he was fifteen years old and still makes the twice weekly trek to the mountain top to collect ice with his donkeys.

Now aged sixty seven, and with the Ice getting higher and higher over the last fifty years, this is back breaking work for him.

He mourns the changes that mean supply for his ice has decreased significantly. The money he gets from local traders is very little but he is determined to carry on until his body gives up.

He says the natural ice is full of vitamins and is tasty and sweet but along with the invention of freezers, most people now use ‘factory’ ice instead of the Chimborazo ice.

His brother Gregorio now works with factory ice and makes ice cream to sell. Another brother, Juan, has moved on to work in construction as the money is better. All of them are sad that their father’s traditional way of harvesting the ice will die with Baltazar and they both miss working as a family. They have ensured their children have been educated so that they have more options in their changing world.

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