I tell you, for those who do not know me, that in 2008 I made my first long trip as mochilera: between January and October of that year overland trip through Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras. Some sections traveled alone and others walked together. I discovered that South America is one of my favorite places in the world and confirmed my passion for travel and contact with other cultures and people. I wrote several stories for a blog that no longer exists, but can still read here. Those writings were, perhaps, the precedent of this blog.
On that trip I found places, landscapes and people will always remember. These are 10 of those places where I refuge in imagination whenever I need to think of nice things:
1. The desert of Ica (Peru)
This picture took me Vicky, my friend and traveling companion, in the desert of Ica, a few meters from the oasis of Huacachina. We had gone to watch the sunset from one of the dunes surrounding the oasis and we were sitting there a long time, away from civilization, from any noise. That day was the first time I walked through a desert of sand and loved feel myself sinking feet with every step. A few days later, five Argentine (Vicky, Vero, Flower, Pau and I) went to walk and got lost for a few hours, in the desert of Ica. That was one of the most surreal days of our lives and if I say it was “movie” I am short … (maybe someday I tell, but for now remains a great memory among us).
2. Lake Quilotoa (Ecuador)
I traveled with my friends Quilotoa Pepe, an Ecuadorian, and Mark, the United States, not knowing what to expect. We had to change transport several times and make the last leg to toe in a truck. When we arrived, all the people (tiny) was covered with fog and almost no people. We descended a ladder and began to descend the fog; when it cleared, we find ourselves faced with a huge lake and at that moment we realized: we were going down the crater of an ancient volcano. It took something like an hour to get to the shore and stayed there the whole day, listening to the silence, gathering flowers of different colors and looking faces on the rocks. Quilotoa is without doubt one of the most beautiful and quiet places I was lucky to meet in my life.
3. The Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)
If there is a place that heals the soul, is the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia. I remember the first time I went (alone) threw me on the salt, I took this autofoto and wrote in my notebook: “14,000 km2 are sufficient to close any wound.” And so it is. The Uyuni salt flat is mystical and magical. Sometimes, if there is flooding all the salt is covered with water, clouds reflected and it is impossible to see the horizon line that separates heaven from earth.
4. Cocora Valley (Colombia)
I walked through this valley with a Swiss girl. I do not remember his name, in my memory became “That Swiss girl with whom I spent an afternoon in the Valley of Cocora, watching the palm trees 60 meters high and waving to the cows we crossed”. But I remember he told me, surprised, that this valley made him agree to the landscapes of Switzerland. This valley, located in the coffee region of Colombia, on the outskirts of Salento, is one of the greenest places I met in my life. And it is a landscape that I keep walking and jumping which Heidi whenever I want.
5. Cartagena de Indias (Colombia)
I always dreamed of getting to Cartagena de Indias. I do not know why, but something of that Caribbean city that attracts me too. When finally, after five months of traveling through South America, I arrived, I did not feel disappointed. I remember I bought Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I ate it up in a few days, sitting on the wall of the historic center facing the sea. However, what I liked about Cartagena was Gethsemane, the neighborhood that is outside the Walled City, that place a little dirtier, less preserved, most come down, less touristy and more authentic. That neighborhood where women sit in chairs on the sidewalks during the day, children walk barefoot and passed out drunk men fall overnight. That neighborhood with real Caribbean flavor.
6. San Blas (Panama)
The five-day trip sailing from Cartagena (Colombia) to San Blas (Panama) was one of the highlights of my journey. The night we went there were thunderstorms in the middle of the Caribbean Sea and thought I would not survive to tell the tale, but the next day the sun came out and a group of dolphins swam beside the boat during a (brief but unforgettable …) while. After 48 hours of continuous navigation, without seeing more whales, dolphins and sharks, we arrived at the archipelago of San Blas, the Panamanian side. The archipelago consists of 365 islands (one for each day) and inhabited by the Kuna Yala community, a Native American group that still maintains its traditions. Do not allow any foreign investment in the region and live there without “luxuries” that many consider necessary. This place is my paradise and if you ever ask me where I want to die, which is under a palm tree in one of these 365 islands.
7. Punta Negra (Lima, Peru)
This place is probably colored by my great friendship with Mirela, a native Peruvian girl of Punta Negra, whom I met in Lima and then I got in my house in Buenos Aires. Every time I see this photo I remember the two of us walking down Lima to stop the van that would take us to Punta Negra, I remember how we spent the time flying as we chatted about life; I remember when we arrived at this small coastal town located on a desert landscape and went to his home, where I met his family very pretty; I remember our walks to the rocks, of our conversations, that nice feeling of having met a friend “for life”. I remember the castle of Punta Negra, stories, sand, the sea. And I can not wait to come back and spend a few days there.
8. Antigua (Guatemala)
Antigua Guatemala is one of those colonial cities that I love, with peeling walls, with paint peeling paint and colors almost obliterated by the sun. It is a place where there is not much to do but walk or sit and watch life from a park bench. A place where people greet you when you pass through the door of his house, a place where all look at you with curiosity. I remember that once sat in a park and a girl came running to offer collarcitos and bracelets when he heard me speak Spanish it was frightened: “Why do not you speak English?” “Because I’m from Argentina and there speak Spanish “. He looked at me for a few seconds and ran to hide behind the mother.
9. Montevideo (Uruguay)
Uruguay is a country where I would live, no doubt. I love people, I love the tranquility, I love sitting on the sidewalk with my montevideanos friends and chat without worry because we left the door open. I still remember the day I took this picture in 2010. It was the first Monday in January, but appeared Sunday. The downtown streets were empty, there were very few people scattered phantoms in the nooks and corners of an abandoned part of a stage closed for a holiday set. All gates were down, the doors and windows closed, I do not know if it was because people were inside or because everyone had gone. I swear that day I felt that the city was there, motionless, just to take pictures.
10. Colonia del Sacramento (Uruguay)
This is another place that is colored by the incredible days I spent with my best friend Maru. We went to Cologne, we rented a scooter and went out to walk around the cobbled streets. That day, Cologne, like Montevideo, also looked like a ghost town, built only for us, our camera and our small motorcycle. We lost, we move from the city to the countryside in a few minutes, we saw the bullring that neither knew existed, we chugged at full speed, we ride two entrerrianos friends (yet they will remember? They were afraid on that bike? ), we filmed funny videos, pursue other bikes to see how they would react, did a silly thing after another and build a place I always come back to our talks.
Bonus track: Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Buenos Aires inspires me and frustrates me, I am happy and overwhelms me, it makes me laugh and makes me mourn. My relationship with my city is love-hate. When I’m there I want to go as soon as possible when I’m away I confess that a little miss …
This photo is the friend I brought Mirela when she came to visit in 2009, stop at the Faculty of Law, against “Flower”. This view reminds me Sunday when she went spinning bike and passed in front of the flower when already started down the sun. And maybe that, go for a bike ride through the city on a Sunday, is one of the things that most surprised there.
Sometimes I would divide myself into a thousand pieces and go to all these places … Do you also have places like this? Where they would return if they could do at this time?