Back from the market

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


City Hall Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
City Hall                Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

   The entrance to the house was here. It was sheltered, from the sun and rains, by an overhang painted in the same blue color as the facade. It provided a generous shade during the mornings and the sunny afternoons, so typical of San Gil. At the same time, it was a dry spot for the passers-by during the rainy moments that occurred during part of the afternoons.
Without question, it was a cheery street, decorated with facades painted in their different hues of yellow, blue, and green. Many years later, Dora tried to run up it, as if she were still that untiring girl. Laughing at herself, she had to admit: I can’t do it anymore! But, what would you say if I told you that grandmother used to go up and down that street until her death, and she carried heavy bags of groceries from the market while she was at it!


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A house with a blue facade

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


The lake Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
The lake              Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

   As you walked from the plaza, you could enjoy observing the old buildings of this quarter of the city and how the gradually climbed until they reached the bottom of Ines’ street. That’s where the final climb to her house initiated, challenging and ruggedly inclined. It seemed to defy the pedestrian and the daring cars, who could barely reach the half-way point before finding that’s as far as they could go!

     From that point on, the street was exclusively for those walking, the cars having to park in front of a wide-stepped barricade. Fourteen steps above, the street kept climbing until it reached a blue facade.

     The entrance to the house was here. It was sheltered, from the sun and rains, by an overhang painted in the same blue color as the facade. It provided a generous shade during the mornings and the sunny afternoons, so typical of San Gil. At the same time, it was a dry spot for the passers-by during the rainy moments that occurred during part of the afternoons.


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A steep climb of a street

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


View of the city park Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
View of the city park
Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

     Her grandmother’s house was placed just a few blocks from San Gils’s Central Park. The park was small, yet fresh and welcoming. Bordered by restaurants and cafes that offered tables on the sidewalks, it was a perfect gathering point for the city dwellers. As the sun began to set, it would fill with people enjoying the evening and the cool temperature.

     But, what a steep climb to reach her house. That street, in particular, had steps carved into its sidewalks to facilitate the pedestrians ascending the abrupt slope and was a typical example of the ups and downs so emblematic of the city’s streets.

     Dora’s favorite spot, to spend the mornings in, was precisely at the beginning of the steep slope. Merrily, the hours passed, while engrossed in her own, private world she played enthused or read one of the books she invariably carried with her. It was undoubtedly her favorite place, in front of the house with the stylish yellow facade, sitting placidly on those red-tiled steps, so comfortable and so wide. The neighbors passing by would smile and say greet her warmly, for they knew the young girl’s situation very well.


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A grandmother called Ines

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Facades Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia
Facades
Guatapé, Antioquia, Colombia

     In that easy-going city of abrupt ups and downs of its flagstone streets and its many-colored houses scattered among its hills, lived Inés, her maternal grandmother, who affectionately awaited her arrival. If on that particular weekend, it was her turn to spend it with her grandparents, she would take the small bus from San Gil to Barichara and arrive in another additional hour. There, it was just a short walk to her grandparent’s small coffee plantation. She would return Mondays, before dawn, settled into her seat, with her schoolbag converted into her pillow and her head resting upon it as she slept profoundly.

     Her grandmother Ines was, indeed, a very well-loved person in little Dora’s life. She understood her perfectly well and knew how to treat her as an individual. Never like a child, nor as a grownup, just like another person, always affectionate and with respect. Always cheerful and loving, her grandmother had gone through difficult times in her youth. She knew pain and sorrow, having experienced it personally, and was therefore perfectly capable of recognizing it in others. And, during that time, Dora was going through the irreparable loss of her mother, with whom she had kept such a close relationship ion those few years that barely had to share together. Ines, her grandmother, was that balsam of affection that together with time began to heal the tender girl’s unfortunate childhood.


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Little Dora

The weekend niece. from the book, Searching for treasures


Bicycle Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia
Bicycle
Guatape, Antioquia. Colombia

Dora was to be the first to adventure down those paths that led to discovering new, forbidden experiences. Since she was a child, she was daring and the architect of the escapes among the three inseparable friends. Dora acted out her role as the intellectual author of their mischief, Juanita performed as the leader of the group; she’d ensure their actual implementation. And the last of the three, Lina Marcela, happy and carefree was the one to enjoy them!

Because of her mother’s death and since she was very young, for various years, Dora had been sent to San Gil, a small city, and to Barichara, a small, quaint village, both in the Santander Department, in the north of the country. During the weekends and the holidays also, she would alternate between both of these two places. Her grandparents lived in Barichara and her maternal grandmother in San Gil City. Upon her mother’s death, her father fell into a deep melancholy, without end in sight. Desperately he sought refuge from his loss, burying himself in his work, and forgetting about himself, his daughter and the rest of the world.


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A seed in fertile soil

And when he discovered… that from the tiny little seed, in a most mysterious and possibly, even magical way, a robust plant had grown; then, the miracle amazed him, and he sighed, feeling both satisfied, as well as, fulfilled in his life 


Caminando por el barranco Barranco, Lima. Perú
Walking Barranco           Barranco, Lima. Perú

The younger sister, Mariana, was exceptionally receptive. They took advantage of a big tree on the farm. and when they finally built a trapeze, Magnífico himself, was totally amazed by her capacity to learn.

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The seed was sown in fertile land, for together with the technical aspects of the scenic arts, Magnifico would talk to them about that mysterious and alluring world of the circus.

El periódico Puebla, Puebla, México
El periódico Puebla, Puebla, México

As time went by, from what had once been but a little seed, a plant began to grow. Following Magnifico’s initiative, the sisters collaborated with him to help set up The Magnificent Circus of the Marroqui Sisters, an open-air circus without a tent, but overflowing with character and a lively spirts. So began, their presentations at the family farm to which the neighbours would flock enthusiastically, from all over the surrounding region.


 

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The farmer of abilities

In this world. though we can’t take anything with us, we can leave part of ourselves behind


 

El balcón Puebla, Puebla, México
Balcony          Puebla, Puebla, México

He never imagined that on his return he would come back as a farmer, to plant his surprising abilities in the fertile lands of the Snow-capped Park.

La vía de las bicis Puebla, Puebla, México
The bike’s lane          Puebla, Puebla, México

And more concretely, in the two girls that lived next door to his house.

Las torres de la iglesia Puebla, Puebla, México
Church towers          Puebla, Puebla, México

In the girl’s spare time, he enjoyed transmitting all those techniques that he massed during his long life with the circus.


 

 

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Walking the tightrope of life

Though he lived in the heights, he never could reach, his soaring personal ambitions 


Bajo el sol calles de Puebla, Puebla, México
The Angels Store          in Puebla, Puebla, México

He became a part of the circus family. A few years later, he manifested himself as a prodigy in the arts of the jugglers. Gradually, he extended his abilities to the tightrope, and eventually, he became the star of the flying trapeze.

Luces y sombras calles de Puebla, Puebla, México
Lights and shadows           Puebla’s Streets, Puebla, México

After a long life in the show business, and as a consequence of a fall from which he never completely recovered, a day he went back to Colombia, with plans of being laid to rest under the sun on his native land.

Las calles del centro Puebla, Puebla, México
Downtown Streets          Puebla, Puebla, México

Casually, or because of fate, he arrived at the village where the Marroqui sisters lived, and he became their neighbour.


 

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Magnifico and fate

And who can proclaim that upon waking; he knows what lies ahead and what the new day will bring


 

Puntos de vista Xalapa. Veracruz, México
Points of view           Xalapa. Veracruz, México

The walkways of Fate are complex and it is difficult to realize the direction they hold.

Órale güero calles del centro de Xalapa, Veracruz, México
Órale güero           Xalapa’s downtown streets, Veracruz, México

So it was for the Marroqui sisters, who never imagined the profound impact of the new arrival to the village where they lived. He was a seventy-year old man, and his name was Magnifico.

Los ángeles Catedral de Puebla, Puebla, México
The angels            Puebla’s Cathedral, Puebla, México

When he was only just ten years of age, Magnifico was orphaned. Encountering a travelling circus, he found himself a job and also, the possibility of a new family.


 

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Talking with the herd

Surprising, how when she was born, she talked through her eyes


El callejón Calles de Xalapa, Veracruz, México
Alleyways           Xalapa’s streets, Veracruz, México

It could be that he passed on that passion of his for the horses to Carito, or that she, had the gift since her childbirth.

Palmas para el domingo catedral de Xalapa, Veracruz, México
Sunday palms            Xalapa’s Cathedral, Veracruz, México

Meanwhile, at school, she was taught the correct grammatical rules for proper conversation with her peers, but at the farm, she learned how to talk to the horses on her own. Later on, these abilities would introduce new possibilities in the walkways of her life.

Escaleras de la calle Centro de Xalapa, Veracruz, México
The street’s stairs          Downtown Xalapa, Veracruz, México

Definitely, Carito’s natural gift was surprising. Before she was eight years old, she could maintain a complete conversation with any of the horses at the ranch. But she didn’t stop there. Insomuch as her interaction with them, she learned to handle herself, within their complex social roles, finally integrating herself as one more in the herd.


 

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