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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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The last ice merchant

14 minutes

A man struggles to carry on a dying trade – harvesting ice from a glacier

For over 50 years Baltazar Ushca has harvested the glacial ice of Ecuador’s Mount Chimborazo. His brothers, both raised as ice merchants, have long since retired from the mountain. They have chosen new vocations, as ice cream vendors and construction workers, but Baltazar forges on, making his weekly journey to the ‘ice mines’ that sit high on the mountain. Vividly shot, The Last Ice Merchant takes a commonplace story of technological change and gives it the simplicity and power of a fable.

Director: Sandy Patch

Producer: Jeremy Yaches, Rodrigo Donoso

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/Rituals & Celebrations
Who first buried the dead?

Evidence of burial rites by the primitive, small-brained Homo naledi suggests that symbolic behaviour is very ancient indeed

Paige Madison

Essay/Music
Music is not for ears

We never just hear music. Our experience of it is saturated in cultural expectations, personal memory and the need to move

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis