Zaruma is a high-altitude gold mining town with very steep, winding streets. All the buildings are of wood construction. There's a museum which details the history of the gold mine, which is still the major employer in the area. There were no touristos here. You can get here via the bus from Machala (about 100 kms).
The mist rolls in quickly from the surrounding mountains and it gets quite cool at night. The dim lighting in town was soothing, not garish; however, the town can lose power at any moment so always carry your flashlight if you're afraid of the dark. Wherever I was in South America I NEVER left my hotel room at night without a flashlight, are you kidding?
Left to right: beautiful Maria from the museum; photo from the bus to Zaruma
I arrived in Zaruma at the end of December and was just in time to witness their New Year's celebrations. The men dress up as women on the last day of the year and by their happy faces I think they prefer the dresses to their normal attire. Why they dress up as women I don't know. The locals started drinking in the morning and by midnight the main street was littered with cigarette butts, trash, empty booze bottles and broken glass. It was the most blown-out celebration I've ever seen.
Here's a few more of the guys. They all wanted their photograph taken and your happy picture-taker was only too willing to oblige.
Every family makes a paper mache representation of something they'd like more of in the coming year; some of them were very elaborate. If it's money, they'd make money. The fellow who made this wanted to have a better sense of humor so voila - Homer Simpson. On New Year's Day it's smashed to bits. This thing stood about five feet.