An encounter with Fate

There are certain days in life, in which what occurs… will be imprinted forever in our souls

La esquina del parque ciudad de Tarija, tarija, Bolivia
The park’s corner
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

Consequently, it was the first time that Angelica was exposed to that indescribable wonder known to us all as music. Also, she was fortunately sitting in the very first row, for her father was precisely one of the guests of honor.

It was love at first sight for Angelica, who was so deeply overwhelmed during the morning’s concert that on certain occasions, her beautiful eyes would mist, tiny tears of emotion flowing gently, absolutely enraptured by the melodic notes the Maestro played.

El fotógrafo Tarija, tarija, Bolivia
The photographer
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

The surroundings vanished, in a haze, from her mind, as did the sweet fragrances of the jasmines that decorated the aisles. All her attention was set on following each and every single one of the exquisite notes which seemed to float in the air like if they were delicate soap bubbles pouring out of the instruments. Without her realizing when I happened, she was ultimately captivated by the violin. In the end, caught in its spell, the violins’ powerful magnetic attraction took complete hold over her tender soul.

When the presentation was over, she walked out from that exquisite church, silently and quite thoughtful. Once outside, she turned towards her parents and in a solemn and most serious tone, addressed them both:

El callejón Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The alley
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

“When I grow up, I am going to play just like that man in the centre, the one with the white hair. What do you call what the man was playing?”

Smiling his father contemplated her for a long while and then answered,

“That… is called music.”

Árbol ciudad de Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia


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An unexpected surprise

Who gets up in the morning, thinking that his life is going to change dramatically, turning in a completely unexpected way

Vista al parque ciudad de Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
View towards the park
 Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

So, it happened that one weekend in the month of the characteristic strong winds, Angelica’s family came to enjoy the afternoons, as happy as fun, flying their kites in that immense plaza of the Central Park, saturated with people and kites, in that marvelous town in Boyaca.

And though those were afternoons unquestionably memorable, the wonders of those afternoons were not indelibly impressed in the memories of her childhood. They had their own magic, of course, and, at the moment, they were rightly appreciated.

Calles de la ciudad ciudad de Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
City streets
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

For the experience to be forever indented in young Angelica’s tender conscience, permanently underlining that outstanding weekend in particular, would consist of a more relaxed kind of event, it may be said that a of a more spiritual nature. This important circumstance, without further words, was simply a chamber music concert, a most singular event in those times. It would be until thirteen years later that Leon Scott would invent the phone autograph and for the first time in history, music would be recorded, forever captured by man, but in the times we are referring to the only possibility of listening to music was a live performance, and these occasions were quite rare and unique.

En la esquina ciudad de Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
At the corner
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia

This music recital took place in the beautiful and modest scenario of the Church of Our Lady of Rosario, set right upon the Main Plaza in Villa de Leyva. The presentation was performed by a string quartet from Italy. They had been travelling through Colombia, while and on their way, they offered their musical recitals, in assorted principal cities of Colombia. On that occasion, they had stopped that morning, on their journey to Tunja, to later keep on heading on their way to Bogota, the great Capital, where their tour across the Colombian landscapes would finally end.

Centro histórico Ciudad de Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
Historical Centre
Tarija City, Tarija, Bolivia


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At Villa de Leyva

Change in some places, as with some people, just passes by

La fuente Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The fountain          Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

Villa de Leyva, was then, as now a small town, with beautiful houses and cobbled streets, brings back the old colonial times. This small city is just thirty-seven kilometers away from Tunja, the Capital of the Boyaca Department. It hardly changed in those times back in the days of Angelica’s childhood, and today, it still remains unaffected by the passage of the years.

The strong winds that prevail during the month of August are, in effect, the motors that lightly impulse the cheerful, many-coloured comets kites. Year after year, the soaring up in their gentle flight to the lapis Lazuli skies of Villa de Leyva and its surroundings.

El Quiosco Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The bandstand           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

In those long gone-by days of Angelica infancy, the comets had not yet flown to compete, nor did they try to win prizes and stand-out. Rather the boys and girls would gather outside, momentarily filling up the parks and the plazas with the fragile kites to enjoy watching as they lifted in flight, until they reached the heights of the vast skies of Boyacá.

Without any doubt, it is a marvelous thing, that capacity to take a bit of paper, some frail pieces of wood, and string and with these apparently so commonplace and delicate components, transform an ordinary afternoon… it to a fresh, new space, filled to the brim with renewed delight and sense of adventure.

El carrito Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The cart           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

Also, it is equally interesting to observe how with such a simple trick, ladies and men, usually so serious and proper, turn into boy and girls, who laugh and shout, running around without restraint from here to there and back.

Effectively, if for only the briefest instant in time, once more they collectively live the moment, without worries or sorrows, totally engrossed and fascinated, as their life is held by a string held closely in their hands and their hopes faintly suspended in the air, fully relishing the wonderful art of living.

El teatro Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The theatre          Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia


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The childhood memories

Few are the memories I keep from the best times of my life: my childhood

Calles de la ciudad Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
City streets           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

As he recalled that scene, sitting in the comfort and warmth of his kitchen, Felipe, shivered reliving that moment recovered from the chest of lost memories of long past times.

On that morning in particular, he never imagined that he would once again listen, and with the same consternation, to that pathetic howling in the night that would freeze his soul, his blood, and the marrow of his bones. For there was something sinister, if not eerie  in the tonality of that sound, something akin to the lament of a soul lost in the darkest reaches of the night.

Cocteles de frutas Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
Fruit cocktails           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

Who would have thought that Felipe and Pilar were to hear something similar, six years later, precisely that night while they were enjoying their wine in the intimacy of their kitchen, sharing their thoughts, and celebrating the first piano composition by, Cipriano, their son…?

Six years before, Angelica had also been deeply impressed by the whining of that dog, in essence, so alike, which had disrupted the family breakfast. And rightly so, for on that occasion, the barking managed to evoke one of the very few memories she still kept from her childhood days.

El lustrador de zapatos Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The shoe-shiner           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

So, that was how Angelica was lifted in the flight of her mind in that early morning, still further back in time. A day that also lay beneath a generous sun, but with a difference: the cold of the highlands could be felt impregnating the winds as they blew. This happened when Angelica was but five years old.

The morning in question occurred in the city of Villa de Leyva, which was to the north of Bogota. It was the month of August in the year 1847…

En la Plaza de Armas Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
In the Central Park           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia


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Barking in the distance

There are those who can read life in such subtle things as a dog’s way of barking

Los Próceres de Plaza Lizardi Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The heroes at Plaza Lizardi          Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

For all those reasons, that Sunday they had gathered together, without a care in the world, happily chatting among themselves, and carelessly enjoying their coffee after breakfast. The flower that crowned that garden of ease was the placid moment by which the unexpected news of Pilar’s pregnancy was announced. During that morning, bathed in a luxurious light. Thus three generations sat together celebrating, as the family tree slowly grew a new branch.

La banca del Parque Lizardi Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The bench at Plaza Lizardi           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

“Cipriano,” Felipe answered the enthusiastic question posed by Julian, the young, new great-grandfather.

“It’s in loving memory of Felipe’s paternal grandfather,” Pilar added smiling.

“It is but a small tribute of a great man’s passage through this world of ours.” Felipe continued, while in his own affectionate way, he gently took Pilar by her hand.

La ciudad capital Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
The capital City         Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia

Angelica was about to say something when she was abruptly interrupted by a dog barking in the background. The barking could be clearly heard and finally it ended in a long howl, imparting a profound sensation of unrest in all those present and provoking an absolute silence in that family reunion which only a few moments before,  had been such merry gathering.

Jardines y murales de Plaza Lizardi Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia
Gardens and murals at Lizardi Plaza           Tarija, Tarija, Bolivia


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An unexpected surprise

How brief our presence, in light of the unstoppable passage of the successive generations 

El parque Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
The plaza
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Felipe was a little distracted at the moment, slightly absorbed in his own silent considerations, under the quiet intimacy they shared in those late hours of the night. It was precisely at that moment, when the barking of a dog was clearly heard from somewhere in the distance; apparently just that and nothing more, a trivial matter and totally insignificant in itself.

Vista de la iglesia Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
View of the church
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Nonetheless, as it has happened to all of us, at some point in our life, that incident was of enough weight, so as to provoke a reminiscence from the distant past, almost drowned in oblivion. So it came to pass, that Felipe remembered, and in a most impressively detailed way, a certain conversation that he had with Angelica, a few years before.

This happened during a morning of unforgettable sun, it was softly basked in the warm light of the higher mountain reaches. As if it were by magic and against its will, the winter spell had finally given up its hold to a summer that brought a welcomed relief to the city dwellers.

Centro histórico Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Historic centre
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

A summer that was arduously awaited for by all the people of Bogota. They had endured for many months what seemed to be interminable eternities of intensely cold weather, unending rains, and if that weren’t enough, all this was capped by the early fog that fell thickly on the city, as they sat down to lunch and would disappear until way after a bleak sunrise the next day.

Those were incessant months of heavy clothes were the bundled bodies of the weary dwellers of the Capital city desperately sought refuge from the intense cold weather of the eastern highlands that penetrated the marrow of their daily routines.

Mural Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia


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Melodious accents

Of matters of men I’ve seen more than my share: in their houses and in their lifestyles, and in their way to dress, or not to dress. In their churches and in the things, they believe these contain.

From, The treasure, in the book, Searching for treasures, by edudelcorral

La plaza Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
The plaza
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Pilar paused and breathed in deeply, gradually relaxing her nerves and her muscles slowly, one by one. In the end, she sat without moving, her gaze fixed on some point in the distant reaches of her imagination, her face expressionless without the least hint of an emotion.

La escultura Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

Unexpectedly, the pianist began her narrative once more, but now with the unmistakable voice of Pilar’s grandmother.

Her voice took on the vocal inflections in the tone and modulation of Angelica’s rich melodious voice, as it became a true and perfect copy of her grandmother’s speech, evoking slight echoes and reminiscences of other places and times, which recalled the distinctive accents of the highlands of Boyacá.

Vista del parque Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Main street
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

And in that slight and subtle intonation, was the discrete confirmation of those days, long gone by, of the childhood of her maternal grandmother, speaking of happy times as she grew up in Chiquinquirá, the religious capital of the Colombians devotion. For it was in that small urban centre, where the Basilic was found. The Basilic of Our Lady of the Rosary of Chiquinquirá, since then, considered the Patron and Protector of Colombia.

Mural Villazón, Potosí, Bolvia
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia


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About borders

  “Right now, and at the moment, I have just arrived from the border,” he, thoughtfully, began to reply, “which I’m sure many people will truly believe to be quite far away, but still, on this occasion and in my own personal opinion, I have found it to actually be close by.”

Frontera Argentina/Bolivia La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The Argentina and Bolivia border
La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina   Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

“I’ll tell you something that you may, or may not, be aware of. In my travels, I have crossed many borders, and they all have turned out to be strikingly different from each other. Some of these borders, I’ve crossed on wide highways, comfortably sitting with my legs crossed, passing from one country to the other without even getting off the vehicle. On other occasions, I have had to walk through them, to first leave a country and then to enter the next. What’s more, I’ve had to carry my belongings on my shoulder, and having crossed the border, still had to search for some means to continue onwards.”

Frontera Argentina con Bolivia La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
The Argentina and Bolivia border
La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

 “In many borders, and I can happily include most of them; I have found kind, sympathetic and welcoming people. They have treated me kindly and well. Occasionally, however, and I am lucky to say that only on a few occasions; I have been received by mean, wicked, and terrible people that have almost made me cry from the anguish they generated deep within me, and left me feeling utterly desperate and anxious to keep on going my own way, leaving everything else behind.”

Aduana Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
Customs office
Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia

 “In some cases, I’ve crossed the border without even realizing that I had changed the country. On other occasions, I couldn’t understand why they told me I had changed to a different country: because, everything felt and looked exactly the same, but this… has only happened in just a few instances.” He answered with a clear, measured voice; afterwards, he proceeded to enjoy his moonshine.

Frontera Argentina con Bolivia La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia
The Argentina and Bolivia border
La Quiaca, Jujuy, Argentina Villazón, Potosí, Bolivia


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A woman of her times

The greatest conquest of mankind happens each time a person achieves the conquest of themselves. 

Los colores de la Quebrada Tres Cruces, Jujuy, Argentina
The Quebrada’s colours
Tres Cruces, Jujuy, Argentina

“Allow me to expand on this, if only in the passing. Simply said, a hundred years before, the number of women composers was quite small, and they were absolutely frowned upon by most of the population.”

La Querencia Veterinaria Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
La Querencia Veterinaria
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

The same happened in poetry, and at least in many countries, the word poetess was disdainful, and was used to point to those dumb women who wasted their time with writing about tacky romantic silliness. That is why I prefer to refer to myself, in that context, as a person who aspired to become a poet.”

Callejones de Humahuaca Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Humahuaca’s alleys
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

“My grandmother was a great violinist. Since she was very young, she excelled to the point in which she was recognized as a virtuoso of her art, who, technically, had achieved an incomparable level. Of this, there are no doubts whatsoever. But, more importantly, my grandmother was a great person. A woman of her times, a visionary, opening new horizons for the rest of the women. And, my grandfather, was at the same time, a great man, always conscious of the important role he was performing and unconditionally supportive of the change in his times and of his wife.”

Entre espinas Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
Between thorns
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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The airs of change

It happens that the most audacious roads are met with accomplishment and with loneliness  

La esquina Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The corner
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

“Allow me to digress, just a bit, in this matter on hand, my dear Felipe. You see, back in those times, when my mother had not yet married, it was natural for women to play the piano, but the interpretation of music with a violin was definitely restricted to men. This was around 1870, when in just a few years, both you and I were born ” 

QEn las alturas Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
In the heights
Quebrada de Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

“There was certainly a vague atmosphere of change in the air; for, sure, the number of women dedicating themselves to composing music had grown notably in the recent past. And, of course, there were even a few bold and courageous women who dared to dabble in those restricted, sacred terrains of the violin, composing and even fiddle around in poetry, which, at the time, was also considered another activity appropriate only for men.”

Las calles Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The streets
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina

“For all these reasons, my mother, Fernanda, and myself, considered Angelica, my grandmother, a role model to emulate and to follow.”

A small pause followed, and they both were drawn deep into their own particular thoughts, abstractedly sipping their respective cups of wine.

El Resto Pachamanka Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina
The Pachamanka Resto
Humahuaca, Jujuy, Argentina


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