An unknown daughter

Perhaps, my Dear Lady, we tend to search for things in the wrong manner, and though, they may be right in front of us, we do not recognize them for what they are…

 The treasure, in the book,  Searching for treasures.

Día de mercado Yungay, Ancash, Perú
Market day           Yungay, Ancash, Perú

“Well, you see,” he continued, smiling cheerfully, “Camila liked that book immensely. I wouldn’t dare say that she remembered it from the days when you read it to her before she was born, but I also wouldn’t dare affirm that it wasn’t so…” he answered thoughtfully. “Of course, the stories in themselves are extremely amusing, and it’s easy to get caught up with those fantastic adventures the famous Sherlock Holmes goes through, especially in the amusing manner in which the author narrates them. Still, Camila, beyond being entertained, surprised me as I observed how she had completely identified herself with the analytical thinking of the main character and his scientific method.”

Mediodía en la plaza Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
Noon at the park           Huaraz, Ancash, Perú

“The thing is, after reading that book, Camila changed dramatically. She began to structure her thoughts with an irrefutable logic, in a tremendously clear and precise fashion. It would seem that she absorbed the logical principles that reasoning is based on, devouring them from the examples in the book and integrating them into her own thought processes.”

Llama en el parque Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
The llama           Huaraz, Ancash, Perú

Having heard these comments, Camila’s mother found herself momentarily absorbed in her own thoughts. Undoubtedly, she felt a profound satisfaction after having heard the teacher, who spoke so well of her daughter. At the same time, she sadly recognized how little she knew her own daughter. With a heavy heart, she understood that the person sitting next to her, held a deeper and more meaningful comprehension of her daughter, then she had ever achieved. At the moment, it appeared that her daughter had become a total stranger in her life.

Esquiador Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
The skier          Huaraz, Ancash, Perú


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The reading sessions of a baby girl

Comfortably installed in her mother’s  blessed womb, she learned the love of books and reading

Vista desde Huaraz Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
Vista desde Huaraz           Huaraz, Ancash, Perú

“You see, madam, if it’s alright with you, I shall illustrate with a small example. A little over a year ago, I gave a book to Camila, as a small present. It was one of the few books that I have in my small library, which I have been gradually adding to, with a lot of effort, and through the years. They are, ultimately, for the kids at the school and meant to help stimulate their reading. The child had signed up for school barely a few of months before. She had learned to read and write so quickly that it both shocked and amazed me. Consequently, I considered it important to motivate her.”

Día de mercado Yungay, Ancash, Perú
Día de mercado            Yungay, Ancash, Perú

“Anyhow, the book I selected for her was, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, the famous British detective. She had already read it and enjoyed it thoroughly. Also, allow me to add, she virtually besieged me with the amount of questions she had in store for me; her inquiries, turned out to be most refreshing and stimulating. Perhaps, you have heard of this book; it is considered a classic of the British Literature.”

“Of course, I have, dear Professor, I have seen her with that book since a while back.” The mother answered laughing happily. “It would seem, they are best of friends. She constantly carries it all over the house. What’s more, many times, she has answered me with that phrase she likes so much: Evidently, my Dear Watson.”

Malecón Río Quillcay Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
Malecón Río Quillcay           Huaraz, Ancash, Perú

“Now, I believe it’s my turn to tell you something interesting.” Camila’s mother remarked. “When I was expecting Camila, my health became a bit complicated, particularly during the last months of my pregnancy. I was a bit old, you might say, to keep on trying to have children. But, what can I say, Professor, hope is the last to die, and that goes for us all, wouldn’t you agree? Accordingly, my Doctor ordered me to rest and take it very easy. Well, he was worse than my Father, you can’t imagine how strict he was about having everyone fuss over me, while I could do nothing for myself, nothing at all!”

“Since I have always enjoyed reading, since I was a little girl, among the many books I read at the time, was precisely that book that you gave to Camila. What would you think, if I told you that I would read it out loud to the baby? Call it intuition or whatever you please, but I was convinced the baby would be a little girl. My, what a chatterbox I’ve turned into this lovely morning. I am so sorry, for I believe that I interrupted you. Please continue, Professor…”

Plaza de Armas Huaraz, Ancash, Perú
Plaza de Armas           Huaraz, Ancash, Perú


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The predetermined aptitudes

When I had finally read the small lettering inscribed, it was just too late, the Angel had wiped my memory with a kiss, before I could complain

Monumento Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Monument          Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

So, getting back to this business of these cards… in mine, they additionally specified that I would show a strong inclination towards music, with a special inborn aptitude for the piano. As a consequence to these blueprint particulars, I would enjoy long hours of afternoon lessons, carefully supervised by Don Gustavo. He was also the baritone in the Saint Agustin Convent’s Choir, as well as my distinguished piano teacher.

Entre libros Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
In between books           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

In the matter of Don Gustavo, it is important to note the following: the renowned Professor displayed a strong preference towards lavishly indulging in a lotion that went by the name of Blue Water. The same eau de cologne, possessed an impressive aromatic potency, yet is still did not suffice to conceal the eternal emanations of ethylic alcohol that transpired from his vast person, a consequence of the almost industrial quantities of Singani (a Bolivian spirit that resembled old fashioned moonshine) that my illustrious tutor consumed on a regular basis, another of his partialities.

Gato con libros Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
A cat with books          Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

This celebrated craftsman of the voice and piano, would commonly carry a flask of these singular and typical Bolivian schnapps. He neatly tucked it away in the inner right pocket of his faded tobacco-brown jacket, more than worn out by the years (I am referring to my teacher, but it could apply to the jacket as well.)

Buscando libro Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Searching for a book           Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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A firm resolve

It is from our dreams that the future is wrought

Retrato de grupo Barranco, Lima, Perú
Group portrait          Barranco, Lima, Perú

“Ordinarily I would agree with you and wholeheartedly. However, on this occasion, allow me to say that Camila is many years ahead not only of her classmates, but of all the children I have had the pleasure and privilege of teaching. Please believe me, I have learned to consider Camila’s opinions very seriously.”

Sombreros Barranco, Lima, Perú
Sombreros           Barranco, Lima, Perú

At this point, she thoughtfully considered his remarks. For sure, she had always considered Camila as a special child. But until this moment, she had assumed that was only a mother’s predilection and nothing more.

Coronando a la niña Barranco, Lima, Perú
Crowning the girl           Barranco, Lima, Perú

Never less, she reflected, it was a fact that Camila had, since she was so very young, taken on more than her share of the responsibilities of a grownup, as far as the farm was concerned, as well as her schoolwork. Her considerations were interrupted by the teacher’s gentle voice.

Niña y sombrero Barranco, Lima, Perú
Girl and sombrero            Barranco, Lima, Perú


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A mother’s dreams

Some dreams are lost in reality, some realities are lost in dreams

El puerto Callao, Lima, Perú
El puerto Callao, Lima, Perú

Simple and straightforward, professor Rafita was gifted with a profound intelligence and a great degree of human sensitivity. Always kind and running about in a good mood, it was difficult, if not quite impossible, not to like this kind-hearted school teacher. Together with the doctor, they both were the only persons respected by both the liberals and the conservatives, whose constant onslaughts and in-fighting had ravaged the country and done so much harm.

La costa Callao, Lima, Perú
La costa Callao, Lima, Perú

“It pains me to recognize the fact that in only a few months’ time, we shall finish with the second-grade level. After that, I am sorry to say, there is nothing more, I can possibly offer Camila. Bearing this in mind, there is an important fact, you should be aware of, ma’am. Camila has confided in me that she is determined to be a writer.”

El parque Barranco, Lima, Perú
El parque Barranco, Lima, Perú

“Well, now, my dear Professor, when I was a little girl, for I once was one, don’t you dare doubt it… I wanted to be a Nun” she answered laughing in excellent spirits. “And look at me now, sitting in the park and talking to you about my daughter’s future. As children, we tend to dream, and we easily believe the world is just there, waiting for us to make it our own, as easy as that. Getting back to this business of being a writer, how can that be? She is still much too young to know what she wants in life, wouldn’t you agree?”

Bicicleta Barranco, Lima, Perú
Bicicleta Barranco, Lima, Perú


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The tiny lettering in the card

When I had finally read the small lettering inscribed, it was just too late, the Angel had wiped my memory with a kiss, before I could complain


Entre nubes Carretera a Tarabuco, Sucre, Bolivia
In the clouds          Highway to Tarabuco, Sucre, Bolivia

To continue with this matter of the royal blue cardboard, it would contain a wealth of additional, unalterable specifications and of course, with more intricate details. For example, my genre was stipulated as masculine, with a maximum attainable height of 5 ft. 7 in., which I would never achieve (for undetermined reasons). Also, my shoe size of #10 was determined, precisely for when I attained my maximum growth. This, I believe, is an interesting point, for with my real height… my feet were too big. But, to whom do you complain in these cases?

Acueducto Carretera a Villazón, Potosí, Boliva

Aqueduct          Highway to Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Now, as far as my hair goes, mine was described as smooth, straight kind of hair and resistant to actually being lost on the paths of life. Here it certainly differed to my younger brother, Jorge Eduardo, who in this delicate issue, did very poorly. His shiny bald head sparkled with the sun, even before he was twenty years old. Back to the card, he got brownish, curly hair and in minimum quantity, in other words, the rule of you get some… you lose some.

Undoubtedly, the details of my personality were carefully explained and exhaustively listed. For some mysterious reason, I was assigned to a moderately bright category, also endowed with an extreme stubbornness. In the rules of the game, as postulated by this cardboard instruction list, I was assigned zero, null, none manual abilities in plastic arts and extending to all the scope of hand crafts, or perhaps better said, I was determined to be awkward and the utmost clumsy kind of guy for life. Ultimately, and as a result of the aforementioned, I flunked out in drawing class. I managed to pass thanks to the generosity of my teacher, miss Teresa, renown among all the students for her splendid disposition (as well as, for her also generous breasts). My puppy love for her was as ephemeral as my youth.

Campiña boliviana Tupiza, Potosí. Bolivia
Bolivian countryside           Tupiza, Potosí. Bolivia

Digging into this important circumstance, the particulars of my personality included a strong affinity to the feminine genre, particularly those of an exuberant anatomy. Conceivably, to comply with the indications enumerated in my blue card, it was necessary for Miss Teresa to form a part of my early years, a fleeting encounter as far as the duration is concerned, but unequivocally paramount in its sweep.

En la frontera Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
At the border          Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia


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Professor Rafita’s mission

He enjoyed how his students opened their minds, as he showed them a world that unfolded as well

La terraza Chinchiná, Caldas, Colombia
La terraza           Chinchiná, Caldas, Colombia

In this way, her teacher quietly began to explain views on Camila’s abilities. That day in particular, had begun as a beautiful Sunday morning, gently bathed in a mild sunlight. Around noon, the two grownups had met to talk about her daughter’s performance. She was a bit worried when she arrived, for the teacher had been adamant about the necessity of discussing the child’s studies with her.

Secando café Marsella, Risaralda, Colombia
Secando café           Marsella, Risaralda, Colombia

After Mass, while the children cheerfully played in the park, and her husband had settled down with his friends, for some beers and conversation; they found a spot, for both of them, in the shade of a large tree, choosing one of the benches to the side of the kiosk.

Zona cafetera Marsella, Risaralda, Colombia
Zona cafetera           Marsella, Risaralda, Colombia

Evidently, the woman was reassured and felt more at ease, once the teacher began to talk about her daughter; at the same time, she gradually filled up with a tremendous pride, upon hearing how he praised her child’s abilities. The professor was looked upon with respect and esteem, by all the members of that small rural community. What’s more, he had studied in Bogotá, the Capital City and graduated with honours.

Leaving behind a world of life opportunities, he insisted on returning to Santa Isabel, his birthplace, and that his mission was to teach those kids living in the region’s rural surroundings, offering them a chance to obtain an education. Perhaps, a bit basic, but nevertheless a chance to broaden their horizons.

Regresando del colegio Ríosucio, Caldas, Colombia
Regresando del colegio           Ríosucio, Caldas, Colombia


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A child in a class of her own

When the teacher finally found the student he had been searching for… he felt that life had joyously smiled

Sábado al mediodía Neira, Caldas, Colombia
Sunday noon           Neira, Caldas, Colombia

“Yes, sir. You are completely right.”  (continues…)        

“What’s that you’re saying?”, he answered disconcerted by the ease in which the situation was unfolding and a little more relaxed. Taking advantage of the turn in the events, he decided to underscore his parental authority.

“So, now, as it turns out, you’re agreeing with me, and only, to keep me happy! What I would like to know, is what you think. How about this: don’t you think it’s time that you learn to face life without those books in your hand all the time? Maybe, learn to walk without a crutch! You have much to learn and those books aren’t helping at all! Don’t you stand there like if you were speechless. Answer when you’re spoken to!”

Día de mercado Neira, Caldas, Colombia
Market day           Neira, Caldas, Colombia

They were both so immersed in the discussion that neither of them realized when the mother suddenly arrived. In absolute silence and with her arms crossed, she leaned against the wall in the entrance to the shed, her face an emotionless mask.

The woman was very interested in the outcome of this confrontation that had risen between Camila and her father, on the matter of the child’s reading habits. Barely a week had passed since that revealing conversation with Camila’s teacher, professor Rafita. In his easy-going, straightforward way, he had expressed his opinion on her performance at school.

Vida del pueblo Neira, Caldas Colombia
Town life           Neira, Caldas Colombia

“In all the years, I have been teaching at the school, ma’am, I have seen a great number of kids go by, through that little classroom. Some of them, turned out to be tremendously bright and promising, and they have left some extremely rewarding experiences behind. Others, perhaps not so extraordinary, have held their own and I would like to believe, learned something in return. Bearing that in mind, allow me to say the following: Among all those wonderful children I have mentioned, your daughter, Camila, stands out in her own unique and truly exceptional way. Never, in all my years as a teacher, have I encountered the privilege of teaching such a gifted child as your daughter! Camila is that rare gem that teachers hope to find, if only once, in their life.”

Camino a casa Supía, Caldas, Colombia
On the way home           Supía, Caldas, Colombia


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Searching for a new destiny

When I was a child, the light from the candles captivated me. Still, today, they haven’t lost their touch… the power to capture and transport me.

<em><strong>The Puna landscapes</strong>           Highway to La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina</em>
The Puna landscapes           Highway to La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina

In dreams (possibly the almost forgotten reminiscences due to a hasty Angel’s kiss, perhaps) I visualize myself descending towards Sucre. I am carrying a small multifold cardboard, deep royal blue in colour, which is firmly tied to the toe of my right foot.

Still life Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina
Still life           Uquía, Jujuy, Argentina

In this folded card, more like a tiny little book are inscribed (among many other important issues), the date of this important event (the day I shall be born), and, of course, the Country where this will happen.

In my case this cardboard booklet will contain the following instructions: Deliver to Bolivia, specifically to the Chuquisaca ¨Province. Finally, when I landed in Sucre, there would be additional specifications with more detailed information, such as:

Heading towards the border Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Heading towards the border           Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Deliver in the care of the Herrera Algodoña family, the sixth of a total of seven siblings. That would place me precisely and quite exactly between my older sister, Juana Antonietta Carmelita Refugio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, and my younger brother, Jorge Eduardo Carmelo Refugio del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús. Right on the spot! Undoubtedly, our destiny is a rather perplexing puzzle and it competes in its complexity even with the names assigned to us by our witty and devious parents.

Vistaof Route 9 Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Vista of Route 9           Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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How things can get complicated

Yes, they were family, but still.. she didn’t t really agree with their way of looking at life

Balcón Colonia Roma, CDMX, México

Balcony           Colonia Roma, CDMX, México

So, when her Dad arrived to the next chicken enclosure, Camila was quietly letting the chickens out to the yard. Having opened the shutters, the air felt fresh and clean. In her left hand, she held an open book. It was a thick and heavy volume. With the other hand, she was opening the wire-mesh partitions and shooing the hens out.

Ventanal Colonia Roma, CDMX, México
Picture window            Colonia Roma, CDMX, México

When her father saw the book in hand, he made a disapproving face without realizing it. Camila turned around, just in time to catch the look on his face, which was in fact, a reaction she had already seen many times before.

Confused, and without knowing what to say, he decided to confront the child, once and for all. Looking severely into her eyes and using his sternest tone, he began to say:

“So, what do you think you’re up to, Camila? Did you actually believe, I’ll fall for your silly little tricks? Now, as it turns out, I’m supposed to believe you’ve done all the work in the first two coops, in the short while it took for me to finish my breakfast! It seems that you have a lot to learn and a lot to live…”

Maceteros Roma México
Flower boxes           Colonia Roma CDMX,  México

The little girl knew her father quite well and also, knew his most of his moods. For the same reason, she held herself easy and aloof and heard him till he finished talking. Holding his stare, confident and without challenging him, she waited before calmly answering quietly:

“Yes, sir. You are completely right.” 

Kiosko de la Alameda Centro Histórico, CDMX, México
The Alameda Kiosk           Centro Histórico, CDMX, México


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