Beneath the moonlight

And how many dreams were unveiled, beneath the pale light of the moon

Domingo en el mercado Honda, Tolima, Colombia
Sunday Market           Honda, Tolima, Colombia

      Friday night, two days before the birthday party, Magnifico was on the verge of falling asleep. He was comfortably tucked-in, beneath the heavy blankets, upon his little bed, inside his also, equally little room. A simple, unpretentious bedroom, but nonetheless, cheerfully decorated and with a huge bay window through which the moonlight filtered in on occasion.

Una mañana en el parque Jardín, Antioquia, Colombia
A morning at the park           Jardín, Antioquia, Colombia

    And beneath that same soft light, he was about to enter one of his favourite dreams. The reverie that sometimes visited him during those calm country nights.

La farmacia Honda, Tolima, Colombia
The pharmacy              Honda, Tolima, Colombia

     It was a quite personal fantasy… In it, he walked beside Camila. They conversed as they strolled, following a path near home, where the view of the Santa Isabel Volcano could be perceived at times, always fading in the distance. His heart beat rather loudly, and it sometimes would stop beating for a just a few moments.

Atardeceres de Gautapé Gautapé, Antioquia, Colombia
Afternoon in Guatapé           Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia


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     ©  All photos by edudelcorral

Always the Champ

In the distant past, we find the seeds of our present actuality

Amor a lo nuestro Barichara, Santander, Colombia
Love of our own            Barichara, Santander, Colombia

    When the Mass was over, they cheerfully left, talking and laughing among themselves. Almost immediately, the long expected race began. Father Juan, in his clear, commanding voice, gave the start. Magnifico observed that little boy, that once had been him, as he and Danilo, gradually began to take the lead, and separated themselves from the rest of the boys in the race. In his mind, raced the multitude of sensations and emotions so intensely lived that memorable day.

El parque central Curiquí, Santander, Colombia
Central Park          Curiquí, Santander, Colombia

        Clearly, he recalled his only preoccupation during that interminable race: Camila, was watching! Actually, that was basically what really worried him so. When the race was over, he watched as Camila walked over with a smile to happily tell the boy, in a low, soft voice:

Iguanas en la vía San Gil, Santander, Colombia
Iguanas on the road          San Gil, Santander, Colombia

       “I saw when you tripped! Danilo was so lucky… If you hadn’t stumbled, of course you would have won and so easily too! Get rid of that dreadful face: because, as far as I’m concerned, you shall always be the Champ.”

La esquina Playas de Belén, Santander Norte, Colombia
The corner         Playas de Belén, Santander Norte, Colombia


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Flowers and celebrations

Some of his most enduring memories where marked by the most extraordinary simplicity of his life

La iglesia Confines, Santander, Colombia
The church          Confines, Santander, Colombia

      When Father Juan finally called them, and they crossed the park to the church for Mass; Magnífico was overwhelmed, as he saw the flowers, so carefully arranged, outside the church. One day later during that year, he found out how Camila had spent days picking the flowers, for the decorations of the church that birthday, of course, together with Magnifico’s mother.

Contemplación Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Contemplation           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

     On that particular morning his friend had arrived in town quite early in the morning. Father Juan had been waiting for her to arrive. He opened the church and between them, they began to decorate it for that happy occasion.

Contemplación Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Meditation          Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

        The Mass was very simple, in a straightforward way. It also held a profoundly significant meaning for the birthday boy and the old traveller, as well, who relived those special moments of his life once more. Father Juan had actually seen Magnifico born into this world. He was like a second father to him and all the kids attending that morning. In a direct way, and also, talking from deep within his loving heart, he took advantage of the sermon to impart a moment of joy into the birthday celebrations, commencing with that special ceremony.

El parasol Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
The parasol           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

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Games in the park

Like all the kids, it seemed that in the eternity of time’s passage, his birthday would never arrive

Atardecer en el parque Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Evening in the park           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

   They were in the shade of the trees, gathered in one of the walkways of the park, exactly in front of the stone church that gave the town its special charm.

His mother had ordered a Mass to begin the celebration of his birthday. But now, the ceremony was over, and it was finally time to begin to play.

Lencha Camino al Salitre, Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Lencha           Camino al Salitre, Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

     Rafita, the young teacher, was a guest of honor. At the moment, he was busy organizing the kids, for the series of games he had planned, under the cool shade of the trees in the lovely park.

“Well, I’m so sorry, but even Lencha, that old cow of yours, is faster than you!” he shouted, as he imitated the cow mooing in his impeccable, precise manner.

La bicicleta Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
The bicycle           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

      It was going to be a race among the fastest of his friends. Magnifico was undoubtedly very quick, but he couldn’t help realizing that Danilo was as fast or even much more so than him. The race consisted in five long laps around the park. The winner would obtain a brightly coloured, wooden top.

     And it was, actually, more of an endurance test, as well as speed, for the park was very large, shaded by the palm trees that had been planted when his father was but a child. What the children enjoyed the most, however, was the huge fountain in the center where they would sit and chat and spend long bouts of conversation and laughter.

Memín Puebla, Puebla, México
Memín           Puebla, Puebla, México


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The hare and the turtle

Childhood is lived only once,, but is remembered on so many more occasions

Los andenes del parque Pinchote, Santander, Colombia
The park’s walkways           Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

Deep in his dream, the first voice he recognised was Danilo’s distinctive, young voice. It belonged to his best friend. They went way back to when they studied their two years of grammar school. He listened to his voice, impressed by the clarity of the sound.

Durante la siesta Girón, Santander, Colombia
During siesta          Girón, Santander, Colombia

Now look, you still haven’t understood that the top already has an owner, you hear? Whatever you do or are planning, you’ll never beet the Black Jaguar, the fastest runner in school and all Tolima. And that, is me! So what do you think about that? In this race, I’m the hare and you, my friend, are the turtle.”

Regreso de la escuela Girón, Santander, Colombia
Back from school           Girón, Santander, Colombia

   The challenge was followed by Danilo’s merry, contagious guffaws. These were followed by the rest of the kids attending the birthday party. Danilo, was always in a good mood, and that was one of the many things he admired of his best friend.

Paisaje de Santander Barichara, Santander, Colombia
Santander’s landscapes           Barichara, Santander, Colombia


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Voices from the past

None of his most cherished recollections ever surpassed the memory of first love

La fuente El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia
The fountain          El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

It was the same park where he had once carved a promise of love for Camila. The memory of Camila lifted feeling kept buried beneath the weight of so many years on the road.

Los vagos El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia
Los vagos store           El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

    The voices and shouting gradually revealed their owners; they belonged to another time in his life, which happened very far back in the course of his long existence.  

Camino a la escuela El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

On the way to school         El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

     They corresponded to his schoolmates, from the that little country schoolhouse in the village. There, he had studied his first and second grade of grammar school, when he was but a young, little rascal. During the mornings, they would meet on the way to school and arrive together as a pack.

En las mañanas El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia
Mornings           El Pinchote, Santander, Colombia

With a deep nostalgia, he remembered his blue plaid shirts and his dark pants from the uniform he wore to school. And Camila, so pretty, in her plaid dress, her white blouse and her hair tied with a white ribbon behind her back, certainly the most beautiful part of those mornings.


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Engraving promises

Some promises he engraved on walls, others on trees, but all are impressed forever in his heart…

Medio día en el parque Girón, Santander, Colombia
Out of school            Girón, Santander, Colombia

    And so, he sank into an intimate and marvelous vision of a past he had lived way back when. Confused, he abruptly perceived a multitude of different sounds. and among them, he distinguished voices. After a few instants of hesitation, he identified their source.  

El parque Confines, Santander, Colombia
The park           Confines, Santander, Colombia

      They were the concerted happy shouts, full of energy, of a group of around twenty boys and girls. Almost immediately, he recognized them. Still, with the peculiar logic of the dream worlds, it took a few instants for him to pinpoint the nature of the scene developing in his imagination.

Promesas grabadas Girón, Santander, Colombia
Engraved promises           Girón, Santander, Colombia

    That specific day was beautiful. Softly sunny, it possessed a singular light that made the colors shine brightly and merrily. Familiar aromas assaulted his senses, as the scene unfolded. Slowly, in that timeless world, he recognized the park in the nearby town to his parent’s farm. It was the same park where he had once carved a promise of love for Camila.

Camino al pueblo Confines, Santander, Colombia
On the way to town           Confines, Santander, Colombia


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And, if it was all merely but a dream?

If it were but a dream, whom do I have to thank for it all?

El río en el atardecer Las Gachas, Santander, Colombia
The river at dusk          Las Gachas, Santander, Colombia

       Totally defeated by fatigue, derived from so much wandering about, he fell asleep again. In a manner that could be put forth, by some, as magical, he slept under the imposing influence of the deep roots of The Tree of Dreams. In his imagination he relived his youth, once more. This happened with total clarity, to him it seemed so real, as if he were actually alive and young, fresh and luxuriant, like if it were the first and only time in his life.

Amistad Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Friendship           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

       It was no more and no less, a reverie that took him back to when he was only nine years old, right to the price moment in he was celebrating that event. Clearly he revived those moments now, so far away from his present situation.

Nubes en el pueblo Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia
Clouds over the town           Guadalupe, Santander, Colombia

Dreams bring us back the memory of past times, lived in a remote yesterday. They are not forgiving, and so, do not allow that we fail to grasp, the inescapable fact, that behind it all, those moments belong to a past long ago spent. That they lost all actual substance. In his most intimate thoughts, he understood this, yet he persisted in his fantasy.

Descubriendo el río Las Gachas, Santander, Colombia
Discovering the river             Las Gachas, ,Santander, Colombia


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Sun down Magdalena River, Magdalena, Colombia

Life is but a dream

In the short while he had slept, he dreamed so many lives… so belonged to other, some were his own

La ribera del río Río Magdalena, Magdalena, Colombia
The river bank          Río Magdalena, Magdalena, Colombia

     After a long and profound daydream, beneath the shade of the beautiful tree in the central park, the traveller woke from a daydream, into which he had lapsed without realizing it. The tree looked as magical, as particular, for its moss contained the very fabrics of men’s imagination.

El Balcón Santa Cruz de Mompox, Magdalena, Colombia
The Balcony          Santa Cruz de Mompox, Magdalena, Colombia

     And then, he realised how if he almost closed his eyes, he could see the dwellers of such singular fantasies that belonged to other times: some distant and others recent.

Anochecer Santa Cruz de Mompox, Magdalena, Colombia

At dusk           Santa Cruz de Mompox, Magdalena, Colombia

     They were there, present in the park and right next to him. It was then that he understood, how so many wishes and a multitude of hopes were kept in the deep roots of the tree, and he also comprehended that these longings, actually belonged to the people who had lived them in their dreams, during some night that happened before.

Caída del sol Río Magdalena, Magdalena, Colombia
Sundown           Magdalena, River Magdalena, Colombia


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The inhabitants of the deep marshes

In between decisions,  some well done, others maybe not… that’s how he lived his life

El vuelo Ciénega Juan Criollo, Magdalena, Colombia
Flight           Juan Criollo  Marsh, Magdalena, Colombia

As he dreamed, he relived that night when his mother talked to him about the black birds and destinies.

“Look son, we all reach times in life in which we have to take a decision, some are important, some just aren´t. Now, these black birds, they live deep in the marshes, and they are bad news, for they are waiting for someone to reach that point in which he has to decide. We’re talking important stuff, that will not only affect him, but others in his life, also. That´s when they send confusion into the mind of that person, to ensure he makes the wrong choice.”

“But, how can they do that, and why?”, he excitedly exclaimed, for in his mind, he pictured a few times he had overslept, deciding to snooze awhile, instead of getting up to help with the chores. Also, he thought about the afternoons he spent with Camila, hanging out and going for a walk after school, instead of going straight home to do his share of the work back at the farm…

Levantando el vuelo Ciénega Juan Criollo, Magdalena, Colombia
Lifting off          Juan Criollo Marsh, Magdalena, Colombia

“That’s because they are part of the dark side of life, son. The part of life and ourselves, that tends towards being negative.”

“That’s unfair! Imagine Ma’am, I could easily make a mistake and do the wrong thing, all because of these meddling birds.”

“Could be, they lift their wings in flight to gather strength and send dark thoughts. When someone unfortunately does the wrong thing, the decision is trapped in a tiny snail shell. They catch them with their yellow beaks and spit out the shells. These can be found littering the swampy banks of the marshes among the reeds.”

Por la tarde Ciénega Juan Criollo, Magdalena, Colombia
The tree of the wrong decisions             Juan Criollo Marsh, Magdalena, Colombia

“Those black birds thrive upon the errors of mankind. During the night the flock back to their favourite tree, ever attentive to somebody else’s mistakes. But anyhow, don´t you worry. In the end, everything balances out.”

Por la tarde Ciénega Juan Criollo, Magdalena, Colombia
Afternoon in the marsh            Juan Criollo Marsh, Magdalena, Colombia

“In those same marshes, the illumination, white birds are found. Well, these are really beautiful and elegant. They have these long, slender necks and long legs, you see? When a difficult and utterly important situation arises, then they send these calm waves of thought to the person involved. In that manner, that person can make the right decision in a proper state of mind. That helps the person to make the right choice for all affected by the decision.”

The tired old traveller never forgot that story. Now, so many years later, his face lit up as he evoked those moments of long ago, savouring each instant of his past life.


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