On the Threshold of my Conception

When I was a child, the light from the candles captivated me. Still, today, they haven’t lost their touch… the power to capture and transport me


Camino a Coroico desde La Paz Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia
The road from La Paz to Coroico           Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia

In this rather late stage of my life, I do not recall, exactly how that  important series of events came to pass. I refer to the proceedings that took place in the threshold of my conception, before I was born…

Comfortably sitting upon Heaven’s clouds, we, the countless souls to be born, patiently awaited our turn, and meanwhile, happily went over the particulars of  the Great Drama that would unfold as our next life.

Vista al cielo Altiplanos de Potosí, Potosí, Boliva
The clouds in heaven           Potosí highlands, Potosí, Bolivia

Yet, the memories of these moments and the details of our life to be, are not brought down with us when we are born. Precisely, just before we arrive to the world, it is with a sweet kiss on our forehead, that they are expunged; and for good or for bad, all is forgotten.

I suppose that the kiss was effective, for I do not remember those times prior to my birth. At the moment, I was surely attentive to every single detail and nuance that shaped the critically important chain  of events. But nowadays, they are deeply buried in that sweet oblivion, provoked by an entrancing kiss upon my forehead.

Vista de la Carretera de la Muerte Altiplanos de La Paz, La Paz, Bolivia
Views of the Death-Road          La Paz Highlands, La Paz, Bolivia

In any event, ultimately that decisive moment arrived (the allocation and delivery of Our Destinies), and I was gifted with a Destiny that began with a voyage. Of course, along the way, I would travel in the company of my faithful Guardian Angel; whose name, I am sad to say; I cannot recall. I assume, I knew it at the time, before that all-embracing kiss.

The journey consisted in arriving punctually for a date with my incubation…

Vista al cielo Coroico. Los Yungas, Bolivias
View towards heaven         Coroico, Los Yungas, Bolivia

 

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New resolutions

If you can’t lick them, then… go around them


Bicicletas en el parque Ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Bicycles at the park           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

All that day long, Camila, was very thoughtful, pondering and analyzing different options. Finally, she decided, and quietly waited till it was supper time. That Saturday, like all other Saturdays, the family had an early dinner and would enjoy a quiet evening, together at the table. However, Camila was silent during the meal, and she didn’t participate at all, not even with her gaze. Her mother observed her once and a while, from the corner of her eye, but without remarking.

 Once she had finished eating, and taking advantage of a moment of silence, Camila addressed her Father in a respectful but firm tone.

La instalación Ciudad de México, CDMX, México
The installation          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

“Sir, I have been thinking about how to collaborate better with my share of tasks here at the farm. If you have no objection, I have decided to forget about my reading, for as you have shown me, this paper world is but a distraction from the real world, the important world of chickens and corn. So, I’ve decided that starting next Monday, I can also forget about school, which is such a waste of time. Reading, writing and thinking are childish activities and they distract me from my most important responsibilities.”

Camila’s parents were shocked. The child, had, in fact, shown that she was firmly determined in her plans. Her mother was about to reply, but before she could talk, Camila continued by adding:

“Of course, if you would be kind enough to teach how to improve and be more productive, for I fear that I am too young and hardly capable of doing better on my own. If you will excuse me, I shall retire to dispose of my books.”

 Ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Fountain on Insurgentes Av.            Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Without giving them a chance to react, Camila disappeared, retiring to her room, where she sat pensively. Meanwhile, a discussion began at the table:

“But, what kind of ideas have you been putting in that child’s head, Ma’am?”

“Oh! So now it’s my fault, how very considerate of you… blaming me for your mistakes! Who’s the one that’s always complaining that she has her head in the air?

Parque Hundido Ciudad de México CDMX, México
Parque Hundido          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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A paper world

The first she learned about art, was… the art of defending herself


Polyforum Siqueiros Ciudad de México. CDMX, México
Polyforum Siqueiros           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

It was a Saturday afternoon, Camila and her mom were sitting behind the house, in the shade of the banana and guadua bamboo trees. It was a nice, cozy spot, full of flowers in colourful pots. The day’s work had been done, and Camila had finished her share of cleaning out all the chicken coops. While Camila cut her mom’s hair, they were enjoying a quiet conversation between themselves.

Polyforum Siqueiros Ciudad de México. CDMX, México
Polyforum Siqueiros           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

“Sometimes I’m just too good and easy going for you, Camila. Don´t you dare pick up a book while your cutting my hair! They only thing I don’t need, is for you to cut my eyelashes off while you’re at it…!”

“But how can you even say that. You wait and see how nice your hair is going to look. Once I finish, then, I’ll go and pick up a book to read for a while.”

“You see? That’s the problem with you, child. Look, your Dad gives me a hard time with that reading of yours. He thinks that you live with your head stuck in a paper world.”

Polyforum Siqueiros Ciudad de México. CDMX, México
Polyforum Siqueiros          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

“How’s that? You know that I do my share of the chores. I never leave for school without finishing up. When I ‘m back in the afternoon, I work on whatever needs to be done. You can’t just say that I’m lazy, or that I waste my time. If I work with a book in hand, well… that’s my problem, as long as I do it well.”

“Don’t work it out on me, I’m not the one that’s saying or not. Don’t kill me off, I’m just the messenger…”

Polyforum Siqueiros Ciudad de México. CDMX, México
Polyforum Siqueiros          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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The Accountant Angels

Talking about Angels and Heaven, I clearly recall that when I was but a child… I liked to imagine Heaven with its respective Angels


Los ángeles de Las Lajas Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia
The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

While we, the humble, sinful mortals, would be held on trial for every single moment of our fragile life, each one of us in particular. Nonetheless, we all would potentially deserve, or not, that grand prize, the ultimate goal, that much-coveted immense carrot, the same one that is permanently just a bit out of our grasp: the prize of the Eternal Salvation.

The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia
The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

I imagined those millions of Accountant Angels, everywhere, and every conceivable place, at the same time, untiringly active, inside those paradisaical and majestic towers of heavenly offices.

Each single one of them, attired in a shiny white tunic and without a body below the waist. Lacking their inferior extremities, namely their legs and feet, I visualized them swiftly floating, and busily drifting, in and out of the offices, and of course, crowned with a halo of white light, delicately suspended above their angelic little heads.

The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia
The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

These splendid beings of light, manifested themselves radiant and beaming… For they were scattered in the reign of The Eternal. They lived a happy and carefree immortal life, completely beyond of Good and Evil. Thus, each Angel would perpetually be monitoring their endless video screens, undyingly attentive, with that clarity and pureness, only achieved when one lacks the gift of a navel.

<em><strong>The Angels at Las Lajas</strong>           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia</em>
The Angels at Las Lajas           Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia

 

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The town’s readers

The kids would arrive to the store, looking for candies and ice cream; while Camila, would go in to look for a new book to read…


Polyforum Siqueiros           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Don Anastasio, the owner of the store, liked to share a morning cup of coffee with his friend, Gregorio, the owner of the pharmacy at the corner. They would sit beneath the shade of a big red parasol to chat for a while, before they began their day and opened their respective shops.

“Well Gregorio, that´s the way it goes with the books in my shop. I can count the clients that buy books from me, with one hand, and I’ll still have one of my fingers left over. What do you think about that?”

Polyforum Siqueiros          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

“For Father John, the priest, I always have some novels in stock. You know, the kind that talk about the lives of the Saints and all. He’ll come around to the store, maybe twice a month, Saturdays after lunch.”

“That’s right! First, he goes by my place to pick up a remedy that I prepare, especially for his digestion. That guy is always sick in the stomach!  Everything he does and doesn’t eat upsets him…”

“Then, there’s Doña Maria. With her, I never have an idea when she’ll pop up, also because she buys a lot of other things for her farm. You know how she’s running around doing errands in town, always on the run! She buys books in English and in Spanish, how’s that for a sharp lady, who learned to read and write when she got married?”

Doña Maria was the owner of the El Refugio Ranch, the biggest cattle ranch in the region. She was always in a hurry, taking care of the business that she ran by herself, since her husband passed away a few years ago.

Polyforum Siqueiros          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

“After that, come’s the teacher, Rafita. Man, that’s a nice, sweet guy. He comes in to buy books for himself and for that library he keeps for his students, you know, down in the village school.”, he continued remarking. “But, I’ll tell you. My favourite client, is little Camila, Don Fabio’s daughter, you know, the owner of that big chicken farm down the road. You should see her eyes grow large, as she looks at the new books I brought in. That little girl is really such a sweet and happy kid…”

Polyforum Siqueiros          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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A vision of heaven

Talking about Angels and Heaven, I clearly recall that when I was but a child… I liked to imagine Heaven with its respective Angels


Cúpula Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
The church tower           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Back then, I had my own proper vision of that heaven promised to me, at the moment, by Father Juan. I envisioned it, as if it were an immense and grandiose set of high rises or perhaps impressive, monumental skyscrapers.

El regreso Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
On the way home          Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

In my childish and naïve vision, the infinitely tall buildings, with a splendid and remarkable breath and amplitude, absolutely devoid on inner divisions, would constitute of never-ending, interminable spaces in the midst of the coveted Paradise’s vastness.

Certainly, it could be understood as an administrative centre of the most massive dimensions conceivable, unfolding majestically into the infinitive. Endless, this evangelical site was overwhelmed with small and uncountable spherical offices that extended in all the possible and imaginable directions.

Campanario Sucre Chuquisaca, Sucre, Bolivia
The church tower           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

Each of these celestial workstations would be equipped with a multitude of video monitors. They simply added up to billions of trillions… uncountable video panels. The video monitors would be stacked interminably upwards and towards the sides, and these would be constantly utilized to observe in a continuous fashion, without rest nor interruption, the actions of all of us: the mortals, those still held relentlessly under doubt… until proven otherwise.

An indescribable labour, to scrutinize us all… the dwellers of down below. Those who forever and for all Eternity would find ourselves watched.

Campiña boliviana Carretera Sucre a Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Bolivian countryside           Highway Sucre to Tarabuco, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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Chasing libraries

Camila, Camila Why do you pass your time away inside those books?

So easy! See, Because I can, but aso, because I love to…


Ventanales ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Picture windows           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

How different, however, with Camila. That little girl surpassed all the rest of the kids that went through his school.


La repostería ciudad de México,CDMX, México
The bakery           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

What a surprise for her teacher, when he observed that Camila, in only a few months, had gone through all the books in his small collection, devouring them in her wake.


Fachada ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Facade          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

That small library that with so much effort and time, he had put together for his young students. The little girl had finished them all and was now re-reading the books she had liked best.


Plaza Garibaldi ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Garibaldi Plaza          Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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Family reunion

Basílica de San Francisco Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Saint Francisco Basilica           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

That “many were wrong… is a respite for fools”, so it’s said on the streets. And motivated by some unknown reason that slumbers in the deep reaches of my soul, as it lies sadly numb and dazed by the overwhelming heat, these popular aphorisms continue to pop into my mind. The strangest thing I find about this situation, is that because of their simplicity, these concentrated capsules of wisdom invariably captivate and spark my imagination.

La colina Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

The hill           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia


Actually, I find this family get-together quite comforting. Here, in this very spot, we gather all together again, and for one more additional occasion. Finally, we have come together one more time and in our own hometown. We have all arrived from different places, some distant and far away and others not really so much.

Los colores de nuestra sangre
Cover          The colours of our blood

Here, in Sucre City, each of us opened our eyes to the world for the first time, and what’s more, this is where our combined story began. And who could tell if this family reunion has simply happened randomly just by haphazard chance, or perhaps, it was a definite matter of Fate.


Calle Nicolas Ortiz, Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia
Nicolas Ortiz Street           Sucre, Chuquisaca, Bolivia

 

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A reading machine

At night, she would read with the light of a small candle; sometimes, the candle would burn out or it could happen the other way around


Atardecer ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Sunset          Mexico city, CDMX, Mexico

Camila had her own special way of interpreting the world. As a child, and thanks to the influence of her teacher, Rafita, the little girl acquired and developed an amazing passion for reading.

Calle Tonalá ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Tonalá Street          Mexico city, CDMX, Mexico

Her teacher, had been able to instill that love towards reading in the successive generations of country boys and girls that for two years of their life, assisted in his classes in that rustic country school in the village. Magnifico had also acquired a taste for reading and the different horizons it allowed him to discover.

Calle de Jalapa ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Jalapa Street          Mexico city, CDMX, Mexico

Yet, he never displayed that unprecedented love for the written word that his friend, Camila, had revealed. Rafita’s small library, contained more than enough books for his needs.

Col Roma ciudad de México, CDMX, México
The Roma Quarter         Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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On the way to school

And so the child merrily passed the hours away, as she skipped from word to word and from book to book


La fuente del David ciudad de México, CDMX, México
David’s fountain           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Half an hour later, after finally leaving her house, she would meet up with Magnifico, who was always punctually waiting for her in the pine tree clearing.

El Paseo de la Reforma ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Reforma Boulevard           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

Together, they would walk an additional hour more, occasionally switching pathways and trying out different routes for that morning. Magnifico advanced observing every detail on the way.

Ocaso urbano ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Urban dusk           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

In that shared silence between them, she walked with her mind far away, lost in her own reflections, without losing her step, nor either her place in the book for that occasion, which was always open in her hand.

Reflejos ciudad de México, CDMX, México
Reflections           Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico

 

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