Crossing the Atlantic

In the sea, life is so much sweeter…, in the sea, I love you so much more!

Song by Carlos Argentino


Vista desde la Plaza de Armas ciudad de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
View from the Plaza de Armas Square
 Cusco City, Cusco, Perú

During their fortunate transatlantic crossing, the future parents were engrossed in all the details of their ship. As it happened, the liner in which they were travelling was a recent acquisition of her family. Comfortably settled in the best cabin aboard, they dedicated themselves to investigating all the novelties with which the new and modern vessel was equipped.

La esquina centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
The corner
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

These were the exciting times in which the huge sailing ships, powered by the wind caught in their enormous sails, were slowly substituted by modern vessels equipped with steam engines and propellers.

El portón Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
The front door
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

These new ships managed to reduce the navigation time between both continents, as well as, on all the routes into which they were introduced. Felicia’s future parents were happily caught up in highly technical discussions with the Captain and with his officers, concerning this thrilling new propulsion system that had spread so rapidly among the most powerful war fleets and the huge commercial liners.

Balcones Centro histórico, Cusco, Perú
Balconies
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

 

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Sailing the Atlantic waters

To understand some of the things in life, sometimes its best to leave them behind for a spell


La Catedral Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The Cathedral
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

Happy and satisfied with her little jaunt, the little Felicia, carefully closed the door soundlessly. Her room was very big and it was filled to the brim with all sorts of toys, the same that their parents had bought, when travelling through Europe, years before she was born.

Calles de Cusco Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
Cusco’s streets
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

Felicia’s parents were in complete agreement as to one basic fact: they would have numerous children, quite common in the times they lived in. They also shared one fundamental disagreement, that disagreement stemmed on how many children in all, and if the first born would be a girl or a boy. Her father was totally convinced that the first child would be a boy. At the same time, her mother argued that her maternal instincts had already informed her that she would be a little girl.

El Gato Negro Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The black cat
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

As they made their way through the different countries, of the so called old continent, they bought the toys that, at the same time, would later turn into the souvenirs of such a memorable journey, the occasion when they left the Colombian coast behind to cross the Atlantic waters.

Arco del acueducto Centro Histórico. Cusco, Perú
Aqueduct’s arch
Historical Centre. Cusco, Peru

 

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Le petit Bonbon

On occasions, sweetening life may turn out to be too expensive


La plaza de armas ciudad de Cusco, Cusco, Perú
The Plaza de Armas
Historical Centre, Cusco, Perú

Precisely a block away, there was a candy store. This fine and quite popular establishment was known by the name of Le Petite Bonbon. The name of the shop was carved together with a brightly coloured representation of the sweet on a wooden sign. To Felicia, it seemed exactly what could be designated as the epitome of Paradise, a concept very closely described by the nuns at school during catechism.

Portal Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
Portal
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

In that well renown and high-priced shop, one could find all sorts of candies, chocolates, a wide variety of tarts with an assortment of rich fillings, as well as all these many-varied options to satisfy the most sugar-crazed palate, prone to enjoying the bounties of the sweet side of life.

La entrada Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The entrance
Historical Centre, Cusco, Peru

Felicia, taking advantage of a moment in which her absence would not be noticed, went out to the street and quickly directed herself to the candy shop. With that small tiny little coin, Felicia found that she could buy this impressive amount of candies, in a wide range of colours, and of course, of fine sweet flavours. They offered honey, mint, wine and chocolate filled delights… ultimately, a treasure of sweetness for the young child.

She retraced her steps home, carrying her precious cargo, and she deftly managed to climb the stairs to the second floor and reach her room without any of the grownups any bit wiser to her brief absence.

El arco Centro Histórico, Cusco, Perú
The arch
Historical Centre, Cusco, Perú

 

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One coin among so many

One more stripe… doesn’t really matter to the tiger


El Palacio de Justicia ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The Palace of Justice
Puno City, Puno, Peru

The years went by… and Felicia grew up to become a beautiful little girl with a sweet disposition, as well as, impressively good-looking. Many of her fine features were unquestionably inherited from her mother. Since she was a child, Felicia’s mother was beautiful, a charm she upheld until the end of her days.

Conversando ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
Conversing
Puno City, Puno, Peru

So, it happened that one lovely, sunny morning, after waking to a beautiful, clearly illuminated sky, one of the rare few that occur in Bogota City, but when they happen, those days make living in the city worthwhile… Felicia cautiously walked into her parent’s room.

Taking advantage of the fact that everyone else was downstairs, she walked with confidence and decided steps to her parent’s huge bed. Very carefully, she reached under the pillow and quickly retrieved the bag. Cautiously, she untied it and removed one of the quarter-cent coins.

Sharing
Puno City, Puno, Peru

Immediately, she proceeded to tie and replace the small green bag, just as she had found it. Then, she put the coin away, inside a small hidden pocket in her dress. It seemed so easy for Felicia. With innocence and quite naively, she never considered the possibility of her father realize there was a coin missing. The little bag was so full of coins, surely one little coin would never be missed! At the time, Felicia was barely eight-years old.

La Casa del Corregidor ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The mayor’s house
Puno City, Puno, Peru

 

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The art of living

Life is enjoying what is at hand


Carnavaleando ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The boat
Puno City, Puno, Peru

For a long while, Felicia’s father laughed, enjoying the joke on him. Then, he answered:

“You are completely right, like always, my dear. I really don’t understand what came over me, nor why I worry and fret like that. Bad times never last a hundred years, and if they did, we wouldn’t sit waiting them out. Am I right? So, if it’s alright with you, I’m going to keep this little bag as a lucky charm. What’s more, I’ll hide it under my pillow for safe keeping!

El gallo ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The rooster
Puno City, Puno, Peru

He got up and refilled the bag with tiny one-quarter of a cent gold coins and smiling, showed it to his wife, as he said to her:

“Madam, while I sleep with my quarter-cent fortune under the pillow, what do I care about riches worth millions of pesos. Am I right?” He ended his speech by taking her in his arms and said in a soft voice: “Actually, my real fortune may not fit under the pillow, but it does fit in my arms. I owe you my thanks for troubling yourself about me, for cheering me up, and for releasing me from silly moods, when we have so much to enjoy among us.”

La cruz ciudad de Puno, Puno, Perú
The cross
Puno City, Puno, Perú

That night, they were very happy when they went to bed. Felicia’s father let his dark thought go and to their pleasant surprise and great fortune, nine months later… Felicia was born.

Cholita boliviana Restaurante Pachamanka, Humahuaca, Argentina
Bolivian Cholita
Pachamanka Restaurant, Humahuaca, Argentina

 

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A king’s gold

And, not all that shines is gold


La planicie Carretera Puno a Desaguadero, Perú
The prairie
Highway from Puno to Desaguadero, Peru

“What would you think if I told you that the antiquarian guaranteed that they had belonged to King Midas?” She answered, while a soft chuckle escaped from her lips and her honey-coloured eyes sparkled.

Flores en el campo Carretera Puno a Desaguadero, Perú
Flowers in the field
Highway from Puno to Desaguadero, Peru

“What? Don’t tell me you fell for that one! That guy is a fake, just like everything he peddles in his quaint little spider web, he’s disguised as an antiquarian’s shop” her husband inquired, surprised at her remark.

“Of course not, dear. I confess that I may not be too bright, but God helps me get along.” She answered, openly laughing merrily.

Praderas de altura Carretera de Puno a Desaguadero. Perú
High-land prairie
Highway from Puno to Desaguadero, Peru

“I liked the thought of it. Imagine, my dear sir. To live like that poor king and to have everything you touch, turn into gold. I’m sure that in the long run… it must be quite boring. So, thinking along those lines, I must admit that I was genuinely seduced by the idea of possessing if only a bit of that man’s famous gold, even though it’s only a lie!”

“At the time, I also thought that it might come in handy someday,” she added thoughtfully. “And, you see, my dear, at least for the moment, I’ve rescued you from those bleak thoughts about the end of the world”, she said, smiling warmly, as she placed her hand on his.

Vida doméstica Carretera de Puno a Desaguadero, Perú
Domestic life
Highway from Puno to Desaguadero, Peru

 

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A bag full of chocolates

On how many occasions, our problems turn out to be… as big as we perceive them to be


En el altiplano Lago Titicaca
In the highlands
Highway to Juliaca, Puno, Peru

Felicia’s mother, trying to lift his spirits, surprised him with a gift. She had bought the present, some time before, during a trip they made in Europe. It was one of those things that are bought on a whim, but she had felt that it would come in handy someday. It was indeed that little green bag with the red bow tie.

Los campos de cultivo Carretera a Juliaca, Puno, Perú
The fields
Highway to Juliaca, Puno, Peru

“Sir, it seems to me that for several days you have been very troubled. My heart aches to see you so downcast and dejected. So, I have a small gift that may cheer you up a bit,” she commented somewhat saddened, for her husband had been down and out for quite a few days.

The husband, upon looking at the present, returned from his gloomy state of mind and his sad musings on the ups and the downs of the world markets. He reacted with a smile when he saw the bright colours of the bag and his face became animated once again.

Vista del valle Carretera a Juliaca, Puno, Perú
View of the valley
Highway to Juliaca, Puno, Peru

“Now, what do we have here, I wonder?” He asked with a genuine smile filling his face, and for a moment, forgetting his nonexistent woes.

“Well, you see, this little bag contains a small amount of gold coins. I purchased them at the antiquarian’s shop. Maybe now, with the problems we’re going through, they may be a help for you to arise from such momentary financial problems, my dear.”

Though she had carefully maintained a serious tone in her tone, the better to match his state of mind; anyone who knew her better, would have failed to detect a slight playful trace of sarcasm in her voice.

Parajes de altura Carretera a Juliaca, puno, Perú
Elevated lands 
Highway to Juliaca, Puno, Peru

 

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A little silk, green bag

Fortunate is that person that can find a treasure in the passing of each day in life


Los patos del lago Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
The lake’s ducks
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

As it happened and for reasons unknown to her, Felicia’s father always kept this certain bag under his pillow. It was a small bag, made of green silk, which he would tie with a small silk, red ribbon. Inside, the bag contained quite a few small coins. The coins were all the same size and design. Each coin was worth a quarter of a gold cent.

Ocaso Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
Dusk
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

But, as everything in this life has an explanation, the little green bag, with its shiny small coins equally had its own story.

It was a short time after that, Felicia’s parents married. The event was most lavish, for both were heirs to fortunes that even the most audacious of accountants of someone else’s money had to admit were effectively uncountable, or rather, should be considered invaluable.

Descanso acuático Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
Water time
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

Both were descendants of shipping tycoon families. Their ships sailed the seven seas, and if not, at least did frequent the known oceans of that long-ago time. It could be said that they had no worries and everything in their life was taken care of. There were a few years to go until Felicia was born into the family.

They lived comfortably in the Chapinero neighborhood, in a small, but cozy mansion. Sometime after they returned from their honeymoon, a world economic crisis occurred. It worried Felicia’s father severely, for their fortune was at a risk of diminishing from decidedly opulent to merely ridiculously rich. For that reason, one night during dinner, he found himself dejectedly considering the tortuous ups and downs of life.

Anclado en puerto Lago titicaca, Puno, Perú
Anchored in port
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

 

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Felicia’s story

How many loads we carry on our back, not letting go, until death does us the kind favour of taking them away


La escuela de música Puno, Perú
The music school
Puno, Peru

The only person that knew the story and the reasons, behind Felicia’s unquenchable search and persecution of those souls that departed to never come back, was precisely her husband who was, of course, Felipe’s father.

In those happy and carefree times, when they were still young and deeply immersed in that timeless process of courting, Felipe’s father was finding it extremely difficult to understand how Felicia could involve herself so profoundly in matters that had anything to do with spirits and ghosts. He just couldn’t imagine anybody else their age being so attached to these issues…

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

“Possibly in a much older woman, who also has nothing else to do,” he thought, “but she’s only eighteen; I am barely eighteen, and all this seems just too odd…”

It was to Felipe’s great comfort and spiritual peace that one Sunday afternoon this unfathomable mystery was resolved. This took place many years ago and shortly before they were married. At the time, they were firmly engaged. that Felicia broke up crying disconsolately. From one moment to the next, Felicia went from laughing gaily to despondently crying. This happened that Sunday afternoon while they were comfortably sitting in the parlour, in Felicia’s parent’s house and drinking coffee and enjoying some cinnamon cookies, her mother had just baked in the morning.

La estación del ferrocarril Puno, Perú
The railroad station
Puno, Peru

He had asked her, for he was certainly a bit concerned, about that mania she had for establishing contact with the world of spirits (of course he mentioned it rather tactfully as: this deep interest of hers).

Unexpectedly, Felicia overwhelmed, burst into tears. Once she had recovered herself, she proceeded to quietly tell him about these certain sad events that went all the way back to her early childhood.

The afternoon dragged on slowly and gradually turned into the evening, as it began to get dark. Meanwhile, and for the first time, Felicia narrated those events that she had kept hidden and buried deep in her heart for so many years.

El velero Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
The sailboat
Lake Titicaca, Puno, Peru

 

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Maracuya and arequipe candies

Life and persons may be sweet, but never too much, for they risk becoming boring


El Cristo Lago, Titicaca, Puno, Perú
The Christ
Titicaca Lake, Puno, Peru

Precisely for those reasons, Felipe had discovered in Angelica, this refreshing vision of a woman of the world, the presence of a person who advanced with firm, confident steps, a mind that was highly intelligent with her feet stolidly planted on the ground and adamantly not given to mystical speculations. Therefore, in those quiet moments, he found himself terribly confused and without knowing what to think.

Entrada a Puno Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
Entering Puno
Titicaca Lake, Puno, Peru

Felipe and his wife interchanged glances, full of significance. Brief glimpses, almost instantaneous, but they discretely transmitted their mutual preoccupation concerning grandmother’s mental stability.

Pilar was trying to imagine the thoughts that went through Felipe’s mind. Childhood friends, Pilar met Doña Felicia since she was yet a child and knew her quite closely. In the beginning, she was overtaken by the staggering physical beauty of her future mother in law, which was truly breathtaking. For sure, the same thing happened to Felipe’s father at some time. Yet, as she got to know her better, her perception with respect to Felipe’s mother changed drastically.

Vista desde el norte de Puno Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
North view from Puno
Titicaca Lake, Puno, Peru

It’s not that Felicia was a bad person. Quite the contrary, she was that kind of a person in which there is no room for evil. Too innocent and naïve, Pilar would think in this matter. Something like the arequipe sweets from Uraba, the kind they made down by the Atlantic coast. O rather the passion fruit candies from the Santander region that Felipe found so delicious. Those that that you barely enjoy… because they are just too overly sweet! Too sugary and, at the same time, much too bland… she concluded.

Zona del malecón Lago Titicaca, Puno, Perú
The docks
Titicaca Lake, Puno, Peru

 

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