Silent witnesses

In all times, there has always been those that believe we are being observed by special beings. In certain historical moments this has been widely accepted; in others it has not.


La siembra Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Perú
Planting the seeds
Arequipa to Puno Highway, Peru

“These creative faculties so inherent and characteristic of our human race, suggests to them a most extraordinary occurrence, which forms part of the most intriguing living treasure in our world.”

“Consequently, they have always deeply attentive to the possibility of the arrival of a new member of humanity in which they can recognize serious inventive promises.”

El descanso Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Perú
Taking a break
Arequipa to Puno Highway, Peru

“You may think that I sin from pride and utter lack of modesty, but on that blessed windy morning in the Boyacá highlands, when I decided to play the violin, that creature was there to welcome me into the creative spheres of this world and to encourage my determination.”

Trabajador de campo CArretera Arequipa a Puno, Perú
Field worker
Arequipa to Puno Highway, Peru

“Further still, to them the fact the humanity has come to segregate certain activities and disciplines is a total mystery, for it obstructs that wonderful creative gift that describes so genuinely.”

“As I announced my decision to pursue my way playing the violin, just a little girl to whom that option was out of bounds, naturally they were intrigued and accordingly arrived to witness this special situation.”

La escolar Carretera Arequipa a Puno, Perú
The schoolgirl
Arequipa to Puno Highway, Peru

 

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The long-lived

How many years does it take to learn to enjoy life to the full?


En la banca Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia
At the bench
Tupiza, Potosí, Bolivia

“These beings regard us, the ephemeral, short-lived mortals, just as if we were the sparks that rise from a bonfire. Fleetingly we lift our flight. To them, it seems as though, we extinguish ourselves almost instantly. They perceive our short lives as if we were, but, an insignificant flicker in the universal order of existence.”

Caminando las calles ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Strolling the streets
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

“Indeed, they are so long lived that for practical reasons, we might as well consider them immortal. Hence, we may understand how the passing of the years since I was a six-year old is absolutely meaningless.”

“The most intriguing aspect of ourselves that these special creatures have discovered in our humanity, is that singular and rare capacity of ours to create. The act of initiating from nothing, a void of non-existence if you will, to then pursue an inspiration, ultimately, contribute, in the midst of this process, something new and unique to this world of ours… this result of our most vivid imagination, in which our own individual, personal vision of the world is finally stored and sheltered.”

Por la ciudad ciudad de La Paz, La Paz. Bolvia
In the city
La Paz City, La Paz. Bolivia

“This may be observed, and even further, and is possible to study in all our widely varied artistic and intellectual disciplines in which we share our own very personal visions to finally generate a community heritage, our cherished community acquis, which slowly through countless generations and centuries transforms itself into the priceless and unsurpassable legacy of the human race.”

Vista del terminal ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
View of the bus terminal
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

 

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Life’s mysteries

Who can proclaim to have all the answers stashed in their pocket?


La ribera Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
The lake’s shore
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

“There are mysteries in life and in this world that we don’t understand and surely will never be able to comprehend. What I am now explaining to you, is the result of many years of searching for the answers to what happened on that day. I have slowly been inquiring into the existence of these special beings, shall we say.”

Salida de Bolivia Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
Departing Bolivia
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

“I do not ask that you believe me. If you find what I am saying as unreasonable, you are perfectly in your own right to do so. Probably, I wouldn’t believe my own words if I were in your place. Or, as they say, in your own shoes.”

“No, grandmother. It’s not that I believe you are mad. I have never met a more lucid woman than yourself. That is a fact. But, insomuch as special beings in the form of a dog…”

Frontera boliviana Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
Bolivian Border
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

Laughing, Angelica answered:

“It does sound a bit strange, I admit. Forget about that for the moment. Now, if you find these notions a bit difficult to chew on, allow me to elaborate a bit more. Still, I must warn you that what follows will be as hard or even more difficult for you to swallow,” she concluded, laughing as without a care in the world.

La entrada a Perú Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
The entrance to Peru
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

 

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Long faces

In how many situations the old saying applies:  we see the faces, but not the souls


De regreso Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
On the way back
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

“Now, don’t give me those faces that would appear to be longer than Lent itself” Angelica said, addressing them all. I still haven’t lost my mind… yet! And I haven’t turned into some half-crazy mystic that read omens in every shift of the way the wind blows. Nor will I read your coffee that you are drinking to announce how you shall wake tomorrow,” she ended saying with a long, heartfelt laugh.

Los cargadores Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú

The trolleys
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border


However, the silence prevailed impassively, as they all nervously contemplated Angelica with a shy trepidation. Angelica’s smile did denote a bizarre gleam. Fernanda, felt the hairs on her arms rise and sighed almost inaudibly. Impassive and apparently not aware of the situation, after unhurriedly sipping her coffee, Angelica continued thoughtfully:

Zona fronteriza Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
The border zone
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

“My, it is certainly delightful to sit here drinking our coffee and to be here outdoors and basking in this glorious sunlight. I had almost forgotten that such beautiful, sunny days could exist, with such a long winter that we’ve come through, almost as long as those faces you’re wearing.”

“Come on now, family, it’s me, Angelica. The same person I’ve always been: the mother and the grandmother that you know very well. You look at me as if I was that crazy, deranged woman that lives around the corner. Cheer up and let us enjoy this splendid opportunity to share our lives for a moment and to discuss fresh, groundbreaking subjects,” she commented with a slight smile, observing each one of them in turn.

La entrada a Bolivia Desaguadero, Frontera Bolivia-Perú
Arrival at Bolivia
Desaguadero, Bolivia-Perú Border

 

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Soothsayer beings

To foresee the future, an eternal human fascination,  as intrinsic as searching for the past


Cervecería Boliviana ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Cervecería Boliviana
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

Immediately after, Angelica readdressed the conversation at hand. In the meantime, Fernanda, Pilar’s mother, refilled their cups with steaming coffee, as Julian observed his wife with a sort of mysterious smile.

Callejuelas de centro ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Downtown alleys
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

“As it happens, we definitely are not dealing with just any kind of a dog. In reality and to be more precise, what we have here, it is not even a dog. It is more, shall we say, a spiritual kind of a being, to try and describe it a bit closer.”

“It does take the form of a dog, as all the rest of these beings that live in other parts of the world, just happen to do. This they do, since immemorial times, since epochs so far back that they are lost in the darkness of time. They go back to before the coming of the first men to settle in this world of ours.”

Panorámica de la ciudad ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
City panoramic
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

“They are harbingers of human destiny. They manifest this gift which allows them to anticipate the fate in store for us, the mortals, who they consider outsiders that have barely appeared in the grand scheme of things in this world.”

Callejones de la ciudad ciudad de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
City alleys
La Paz City, La Paz, Bolivia

 

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Dogs with long lives

Gods made mortals in their own image, and they paid them back in kind


Entrada hacia la Paz El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
Arriving at La Paz
El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia

“This is a story that I seldom share,” commented Angelica, “and on the rare occasions I have done so, I have never included my own particular interpretation of the facts…”

Intrigued, Pilar, immediately asked what she was referring to.

“You see, my dear Pilar, the thing is that I could understand what the dog what saying, or perhaps, communicating. Besides, that dog of such a strange way of barking, so particular in its style, is the same dog that we have heard today.”

Calles de El Alto El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
Streets at El Alto
El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia

“But! My dear Angelica, that cannot be. With all due respect, my dearest mother-in-law, however, just consider that if effectively that is the same dog that you heard when you were five-years old… Well, I’d say that too many years have gone by since then. It would have to be an extraordinarily long-lived animal, at that. As far as I recall, dogs just don’t live so many years.”

Vista a los nevados de la sierra El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia
View towards the snow caps
El Alto, La Paz, Bolivia

“And you would be so perfectly right, Felipe. As a rule, dogs live, perhaps, for fifteen years. I suppose, fifteen years can be quite too much for some of the breeds. So, in effect, I admit that more that fifteen years have gone by since then.” Laughing, she went on saying, “But, I rather believe it’s a matter of discretion and perhaps a bit of delicacy, to never indulge into asking a woman, how many years, these would amount to. Wouldn’t you agree?”  

With that light joke, Pilar’s grandmother seemed to dissipate the gloom that had caught them all in its thrall. It would appear that the sun was shining once more… in Bogota’s blue skies.

Vista hacia los nevados La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
The city views
La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia

 

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A déjà vu in life

Is it that we relive once more, or we just merely remember?


Fachadas Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Facades
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Having relived that childhood scene, Angelica gathered her thoughts and focused on the moment, the interrupted breakfast and the family reunion. Her face showed a slight smile, perhaps a bit nostalgic and possibly brought on by the memories of her first exposure, not only to the compelling, undeniable, magical attraction of the violin, but also, to the captivating beauty of music in general… the same craft which with the years would become the central axis of her awakenings, the motor that would impulse her to soar to the higher reaches of her soul, and ultimately become the deepest answer from within her soul to those most cherished dreams and aspirations.

Calles del centro Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The city center streets
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Turning towards the rest of the family, she broke that heavy, silent atmosphere which had settled among them all, due to the dog’s barking, and she remarked:

“That barking is like an old friend. You could call it a déjà vu, but that is not so. Just imagine, if you will. I heard it so many years ago, when I was but a small kid.” There was a streak of tiredness in her voice which suddenly gave the rest the impression that she was weary and tired as if she had abruptly aged.

La fuente Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The fountain
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

“What do you mean by that Angelica? Whatever are you talking about?”

Felipe asked in a soft, gentle voice, being the first to have slowly recovered from that rare feeling which invaded everyone during that breakfast.

Immediately, Angelica, in her soft, melodious voice, proceeded to narrate the story of that weekend in Villa de Leyva which had happened when she was five-years old. All gathered to listen, attentive and quiet, hanging on to each of her words, as she spoke. Among them all, the only one that knew the story was Julian, her husband, who also listened with a soft, sad smile, as if he was carrying the weight of so many years gone by since the childhood days of his dear wife, a heavy load bearing down on his shoulders.

Los arcos Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The arches
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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An old friend

It would seem that some of the decisive moments of life, are to be lived once again…


La bajada Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Downhill
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

And then, when her father was about to insist on how the piano was such a great instrument, and also, so proper for little girls, a startling howl of a dog was clearly heard. It consisted of a strange mixture of long and sustained wails that contained certain hair-rising, eerie notes.

Parque Simón Bolívar Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Simón Bolívar Park
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Those whining sounds produced a total silence in all, gathered that morning, to whom the noise made by the dog affected in a sorrowful way, except the little girl, who smiled and began to laugh…

“See! The dog agrees with me and says that I will be a great violinist!” She exclaimed, her face radiant with happiness.

Fachada Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Facade
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Confronted by such a powerfully fierce resolve, her father softly answered, completely surprising his wife:

“Well, all right, child. We’ll see what can be done so you can learn to play the violin, and may God help us all…”

La torre Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The church tower
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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Follow the leader

In  life there are some people that open new road and those that follow them


El desfile Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The parade
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Finally, with a deep sigh that was never her outside of him, just when Angelica’s father was about to begin his lecture on the important reasons why girls were restricted to delve in the prohibited holy grounds of the violin…

However, that explanation never took place. The girl interrupted his speech, as it happens so frequently with children, have this prodigious way of centering the grown-ups and showing them a fresh world once more, just like they had seen it, before they forgot its magic and simplicity…

Platillos Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Cymbals
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

“Daddy, did you notice how the rest of the instruments followed the violin?”

“What’s that, my child?” her Father answered, for he was a bit lost and confused, trying to find convincing arguments that back up his piano proposal to the child…

“Yes, Daddy, look, it’s so easy. The rest of those instruments were following the violin, just like when I’m playing with my friends back in Chiquinquirá. In those games, Father, I’m always the leader, so I lead and they follow. At least, that’s what Mother says… am I right, Mother?

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

“So, when I was listening to the violin, it seemed to me that the other instruments could follow me and my violin, just like my friends do back home. That way we could all play together, but with music, just like those men did a while ago in church. Don’t you agree?”

Her father and mother looked at each other without knowing what to answer, confronted by that frank determination the little girl displayed, the same attitude that would never allow any negotiations, for her mind was unquestionably made up, with no leeway for buts of any kind.

 

Entre callejones Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The alleys
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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And… a star is born

How many people walk the streets and go by inadvertently, when in reality they are so extraordinary that as time goes by and they pass away, history itself will  recognize them, holding their memory forever.


Los helados Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Ice cream
Sucre, Chuquisaca, 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.”

“Oh please, Father, I’m very serious. I know it’s called music. But that thing made of wood, a sort of a little box that he rubbed with the stick and sounded so beautiful… what is it called?”

“That little box is a musical instrument, the same as the others. It’s called a violin my dear.”

“Well, when I’m older, I shall play the violin. And I will play it to sound just as lovely.”

Plaza de La Recoleta Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Plaza de La Recoleta
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

“The piano is better for you and more appropriate, my child.”

“Does it sound like the violin?”

“Well, no… it’s quite different, you see, but better for you darling.”

“Better? No, I’m so sorry, father, but it will be better… when I’m playing the violin!”

La procesión Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The procession
Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Her father was at a loss of words, without knowing how to answer that fierce determination he had observed in his daughter. Perhaps, only a few years old, but on many occasions, she had already proved herself.

La procesión Sucre, chuquisaca, Bolivia
Music
Sucre, chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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