A star is born

Despite the continual change, there is always something that endures

Vista al Lago Sagrado Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
View to the Sacred Lake          Titicaca Lake, Puno, Peru

“This is something we have never talked about,” she continued in a low reflexive voice, “perhaps, I have never remarked on this before. Over the many years that have gone by, I have always dreamed of becoming a poet and to write my own verses, I would think back then, about the world itself, and of course, about life. This goes back to when I was a child.”

Entrenamiento de fútbol barrio de la ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The ball game          neighbourhood in Puno City, Puno, Peru

Intrigued, Don Felipe waited for her to continue, which in effect happened, after a brief pause in which Pilar recollected her recollections.

“As you well know, Felipe, my way through life began when as a small, innocent girl, for I was in effect, one of those, I sat down for the first time at a piano. That little girl was then, but four years old, with a whole life to unfold before her, though she didn’t realize it at the moment.”

Una tarde en el parque Parque Pino, Puno, Perú
Afternoon in the park           Parque Pino, Puno, Peru

“So many years have gone by since then, and that little girl, still sits at the piano today. Conceivably, not before the same exact piano, Dear Judge, for so many have passed by… Even though that first piano has changed so much, in size, as well as in appearance, you could say that in the end, it still is, as always, the same piano… but the little girl, she is certainly not!”

Las cúpulas de catedral ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The Cathedral’s Domes          Puno City, Puno, Peru


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The price of our dreams

That is the price of living your dreams…

Domingo en el centro Plaza de Armas, Puno, Perú
Downtown on Sunday          Plaza de Armas, Puno, Peru

“There, my dear, you have a point we both, absolutely, agree on. The love of books, that pleasure of reading, is certainly something we share, and we have in common.” Great-grandfather, answered smiling.

“Whenever we’ve come across the opportunity, we have immensely enjoyed those brief moments, each of us is lost in our own book, in our own respective world.”

El portón de entrada Basílica Catedral de Puno, Puno, Perú
The entrance           Basilic Cathedral, Puno, Peru

“Yes, I certainly have relished them, immensely, my dear Judge,” his wife, answered thoughtfully.

“Especially on the day that follows an opening-night. My love, just think about all that goes into setting up a Premiere Night! All that it entails, my God! It’s the culmination of such a long preparation, of so much work and such an enormous effort. And then, to finally present it to the public, who, in that same act, will seize it all! All that I have and all that I am, allowing nothing for myself or for the next day…” In the quiet of that late hour of the night, they remained in silence, like on so many other occasions, quietly enjoying their mutual company.

En el muelle Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
At the docks          Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

“That is the price, you pay, for reaching out to the stars, my dear,” her husband quietly replied.

Parque a la orilla del Titicaca Parque Pino, Puno, Perú
A  lakeside park          Parque Pino, Puno, Peru


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Childhood dreams

And dreams do not respect ages

Semillas Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Puno, Perú
Seeds          Highway Arequipa to Puno, Puno, Perú

They both sat down, together, on a sofa in the parlour, each was dressed in a warm robe and slippers. Still smiling, Felipe got up and left the room. He came back carrying a silver tray with a bottle of wine and a platter with an assortment of cheeses. As he poured the wine, he discreetly asked:

“You seem to be somewhere else, my dear. Would you care to trade a cup of wine for your thoughts?”

The pianist smiled faintly, as she received the wine…

Paisaje de puna Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Puno, Perú
Paisaje de puna           Highway Arequipa to Puno, Puno, Perú

“Thank you, Felipe, you’re always such a perfect gentleman. You know, when I was a little girl, I wanted to be a poet.” When she saw the surprise show on her husband’s face, she couldn’t help but laugh merrily, recovering her normal happy mood.

“I wanted to write all these beautiful poems, about the world and life. You never imagined these little details about my childhood ambitions, am I right?”, she commented in a dreamy voice that told how far away her mind was at the moment, reliving her feelings at the time.

La siembra Carretera de Arequipa a Puno, Puno, Perú
La siembra           Highway  Arequipa to Puno, Puno, Perú

The magistrate listened to his wife, interest and his love reflected in his eyes. Surely, there were so many things he didn’t know about her wife. As it happened, the more he learned about her, the more there was, just waiting to be discovered in that fascinating woman.

“However, it was Destiny, who finally decided for me, for at the moment, I was too young yet, for those kinds of important decisions. It may be that dreams aren’t limited by your age, but some life decisions, do have their proper moment. Besides, I was even younger then Cipriano when I began to play the piano. I was just barely four years old. Imagine that, four years old… Would you believe that I still couldn’t properly pronounce the letter “r”, but, oh yes! I definitely played the C Major scale, up and down, as if I had done that for years!

Don Felipe gently patted her hand with affection, as she continued:

“Surprisingly, even before I knew how to read and write, I could already read the notes in a music score, perfectly. When I finally did learn to read and write properly, it came bundled together with a total fascination for reading. Even today, it captivates me, still! You well know, how I dedicate any spare time I have to reading some book,” she affirmed with a nostalgic smile, the same that curiously would appear so many years after on the face of her great granddaughter, that so resembled her own…


Lagunillas Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Puno, Perú
Lagunillas           Highway Arequipa to Puno, Puno, Perú


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Nocturnal concert

And how she weaves those delicate enchantments with the fragile threads of her imagination

La campiña de altura Carretera Arequipa a Juliaca, Perú
The countryside in the highlands          Highway Arequipa to Juliaca, Peru

She pensively sat down at the piano, uncovering the keyboard. Undoubtedly, this theme offered and immense and vast potential to tap into. With her right hand, she played the melody attentively listening to each note, and to each pause of both the modest movements and its interconnecting bridge, repeating it once more as she finished the first go around.

Breathing deeply and perfectly motionless, she cleared her mind, slowly repeating a meditation mantra learned long ago when she was young. This was a vital part of her customary routine before playing the piano. She observed it when playing alone, like this night, and she went through it, just the same, before playing at a sold-out concert hall. Without stopping, she placed her hands, positioning them slightly above the piano’s keys, and she began to play very softly, almost inaudible, even in the profound silence of the night.

La manada Carretera Arequipa a Juliaca, Perú
The pack           Highway Arequipa to Juliaca, Peru

Her years of experience steered her through the elaboration of the theme. She steadily began exploring and expanding on each of the three phrases, progressively exploiting their intrinsic beauty, captivated by the richness in the resulting harmonic constructions and exquisiteness of the music as it flowed in the air.

The volume, together with the velocity began to increase as she advanced, drifting apart from that innocent and naïve simple musical theme, as she proceeded through secondary embellishments of indisputable exquisiteness. Yet, the original melody was never lost, it maintained itself present, quite subtly, as it were, profoundly buried in the composition.

El ojo de agua Carretera Arequipa a Juliaca, Perú
The water hole         Highway Arequipa to Juliaca, Peru

At last, the concert began to unwind, conducing the explosive development of the theme back to its necessary conclusion, slowly and steadily, little by little, reducing both the volume and the tempo until ultimately accomplishing one final note, sustained in the air for a final and brief moment. When finally, that final chord was lost in the silence of the night, at her back, an enthusiastic ovation was heard. As she turned around, her gaze fell upon Don Felipe, who had just risen from the armchair, and with tears in his eyes, wore a smile that extended that completely filled his face.

Pastando Carretera de Arequipa a Juliaca, Perú
Grazing          Highway Arequipa to Juliaca, Peru


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Insomnia nights

As it turns out, sometimes out greatest fears, contain are greatest hopes and dreams

La margen del río Chill Yanahuara, Arequipa, Perú
The banks of the Chill River          Yanahuara, Arequipa, Perú

That night, Cipriano’s mother tossed and turned in bed, finding it virtually impossible to achieve that evasive sleep. The pianist in herself, among other things found she was amazed, surprised, thoughtful, full of admiration… while the mother that lived in her felt confused, anguished, fearful, excited (he was but a child, for Christ’s sake!). Anyhow, the long night came bundled together with a wealth of thoughts and a sea of ambivalent feelings that stirred deep down inside.Los callejones ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú

The alleys          ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú

Meanwhile, all the way in the back of her mind, Doña Pilar listened to Cipriano simple little tune, again and again, like it happens when a melody sticks to the mind and repeats itself until we are fed up with it, but we can´t let it go, either.

She fought a sudden impulse to jump violently out of bed, for her husband was asleep, by her side. For a moment, she lay quietly contemplating his silhouette in the silence of the dark night. With an exaggerated care, she got out of bed, careful not to interrupt her husband’s peaceful slumber.

Calles de centro ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
Streets downtown           ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú

As she left the warmth of the blankets, she felt the cold Bogota night envelop her. She got into her favourite robe and quietly went out of the bedroom. Reaching the piano parlour, she turned on a few gas lamps and closed the door. Quietly the rest of the house was left far behind and far away…

The arch to Mercaderes St.          ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú


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A first piano performance

More than one, argued it was merely in his blood, as if that explained it all quite satisfactorily…

Vista del volcán Misti ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
The Misti Volcano           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

Since he was still a very young child, Cipriano, had displayed an intense love towards music. Whenever he heard a note, a song or a melody… he would immediately listen, fully concentrated and abstracted. In particular, he exhibited a special affinity towards the piano. He would spend hours during the mornings, quietly listening to his mother, as she practiced in her parlour.  It seemed, he had inherited his mother’s talents, though these had multiplied in the child.

El Puente Grau ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
The Grau Bridge          Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

It was barely past his fifth birthday, when one afternoon, his mother surprised him while he was at the piano. He was playing a very simple, but exquisitely beautiful melody. Astonished, she froze in her tracks, as she observed him, while attentively listening to the music. She found it difficult to believe that it was actually her son, who was sitting at the piano and playing so naturally.

She felt a shiver run down her back, as she silently followed the music in her mind. When he finished playing the song, Cipriano paused for a moment without realizing that his mother was in the back of the parlour. Unable to restrain her emotions, she began to applaud, in a most heartfelt standing ovation.

“Bravo! Bravisimo!”

La cima del Chachani ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
Chachani’s peaks           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

“But, Cipriano, that was so beautiful! I love it! Whoever taught you how to play that melody, and tell me, who wrote it? I have never heard it before!”, she fired the questions away, one after another, still feeling a bit dazed.

 “Who wrote it? I don’t think anybody has written it, yet. Who taught me, Mother? I just learned by myself, I guess. You know? It was just there… Like the colours that appear when you close your eyes, they just happen to be there! It’s a happy tune, don’t you think?”, he answered, thoughtfully.

Vista a los nevados ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
The glaciers           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú


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The sweet age of innocence

Those of us that fondly cherish our childhood, may count themselves among the fortunate

Entre sueños ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Dream world           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Well… Toña and Juanita arrived.  It’s been a while since they were dressed all in white. Of course, by now, not even considering that they’re the daughters of Doña Eloisa, would it stick. That belongs in the distant past of my candid childhood, back when, Jorge Eduardo, my younger brother, had still not opened his eyes to this world. He was still patiently awaiting a Destiny.

Sombra Carretera a Desaguadero, La Paz, Bolivia
The shadow          Desaguadero, La Paz, Bolivia

My sisters were constantly dressed in white. That was an indispensable part of an ongoing publicity campaign that was continuously being run by my mother  Observe their unblemished virginity and impeccable blamelessness. We are an apostolic, Roman Catholic family, rigorously enrolled in the Eternal Salvation Integral Program and its extended benefits and rewards.

La esquina Ciudad de Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The corner          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

I used to have white suits and was also a virgin at the time. At least, in the eyes of my mother, I certainly was and would indefinitely continue to be one, as far as she was concerned.

I would dress in white suits for the Sunday Mass and daytime weddings. I would dress in dark suits for the funerals and nightly affairs. In those long-lost days, I was barely somewhere around six years old, and thanks to my mother, I was properly affiliated with the Eternal Salvation Plan. In those bygone days, I was a relatively happy boy, for I was still living under the warm light that bathes the blessed age of innocence.

Las palomas ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
The pigeons          La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia


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A future grandfather

How little we know and how less we understand, about all that we sow today, for tommorrow


Los arcos de la plaza ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
The plaza’s arches           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

Doña Ramona’s parents met at Ibague City, the capital of the Tolima Department. This happened way back in the beginning of the century; it was precisely in the Tolima Conservatory, where they both dedicated their lives, as teachers and as musicians.  

Los nevados ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
Snow caps          Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

Camila’s grandfather, for that was who he was… was born and raised in Bogota City. There, he pursued his studies to eventually graduate as a pianist and composer. In an informal manner, he was the special student of one of the most prestigious concert pianists in the country: this was his mother, the celebrated concert pianist, Maria del Pilar Acevedo.

Domingo en la plaza ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
Sunday at the plaza           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

The young piano player was highly attracted to the idea of becoming part of the recently established, but already famous, Tolima Conservatory. Eventually, having gone through a most tedious process of letters that were sent and duly answered, interminable trips on the train, those six long hours from Bogota to Ibague or back, for unending interviews, and mostly, after having spent tons of patience for what seemed like a very long time… he was finally admitted as a faculty member of the Conservatory! That was how he settled down to live in the beautiful city of Ibague, set in the Central Colombian Andes mountains, this young, intrepid and still single piano player, who would in time, become the little Camila’s maternal grandfather, one day in the distant future.


Vista desde el Río Chill ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
View from the River Chill            Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú


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Such different childhoods

While she learned to live her life , he learned to survive his life

Ropa al sol ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
Drying clothes          Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

While growing up in the Capital, she not only learned to read and write, no sir! At home, there was a grand piano and since she was but a little girl, she had taken lessons. Not only did she study piano, but she took dancing lessons too.

Vista urbana ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
An urban view           Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

Remembering those childhood days, she stopped for a moment to thank her DA’ and MA’, passed away some years before, for that happy childhood they gave her, and that, she enjoyed so much.

Plaza de Armas ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa, Perú
The Plaza          Arequipa City, Arequipa, Perú

How different her education and her childhood in general, than that of her husband. While she happily grew up in a beautiful house in the city, Camila’s father, had grown up in a small farm in the sticks. Since he was a little boy, he had learned one thing and learned it very well. To survive in that extreme poverty in which he found himself immersed, every single day meant getting up so very early to work, and keep on going until it was time for bed, many times just plain too tired to linger any further and unfortunately… hungry still.

Catedral ciudad de Arequipa, Arequipa. Perú
Cathedral           Arequipa City, Arequipa. Perú


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Musical inclinations

In order to avoid misunderstandings, I would like to clarify that I have no complaints with respect to the Destiny I was assigned in Life…


Mediodía Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
At noon          Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Last, but by no means, the least, it was established that I would display an extraordinary ability in the fine arts of improvisation, with a harmonica in hand.

Vista de Sucre Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
View of the city          Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

With this fine musical instrument, I would eventually play and fill in with my melodious riffs, boldly venturing into that musical genre known as, The Blues. And that would happen, even though I was destined to be born and to live, at the time, in Bolivia, of all places. With my incredibly portable, compact, and most tiny organ, I would furtively play my music behind my mother’s back and of course, without her knowledge.

El mercado Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia
The market           Samaipata, Santa Cruz, Bolivia

These highly illicit, underground musical endeavours would materialize in a basement, in the esteemed company of our prestigious blues band, of dubious and precarious merits, known to the world by the suggestive and highly evocative name of Unruly ‘till our death.

Paisaje de Puna Carretera Potosí a Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia
The Puna landscapes           Potosí to Tupiza Highway, Potosí, Bolivia


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