At least! Tomorrow I’m on my way to Ilo city, the place in the photo is in the heart of the city, Can you believe that a city has a sea in his center? So I’m traveling after an attack coordinated of virus to my system (a flu) and to my laptop (informatic) for work… meh!
I hope not more than two days. As usual I’ll schedule posts in advance ;-)
“Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!” ;-)
I think the traditional homes in the Swiss or Polish countryside are built with wood, but in our countryside they are made with adobe so when I used to read classic tales the wolf in my imagination was hidden in an adobe house.
I remembered that when I was walking this place at the borders of Juliaca city, the bicycle made me think in a modern wolf (except we haven’t wolves so he would be a fox) with granny clothes trying to don’t sleep while waiting for a young lady that promised to be there with a scarlet dress and matching lingerie.
Then the hunter came a day earlier because the fields were empty of tarucas (our native deers) First he doesn’t know why he feels an unfamiliar sensation so his instincts of hunter starts to drive him… scans in silence the scene until he notices with surprise the bike, not his bike, lying against a window, wondering if there is a tale inside and what if that tale already finished…
There was a marvelous view of the coast at sunrise in Ilo city, I hadn’t my camera so I grabbed my old cell phone with two megapixels, I edited the picture in the app for tablets Snapseed and got the quality of the soft light reaching the shores while they were touched by the music of Pacific Ocean waves.
I can’t avoid to think that it’s a marvel to have tools in our pockets that can help us to document a feeling or save a memory. The rest is vanity.
Photographic sites I see for information
I had an Olympus camera, but I was reached the limit of its capabilities so I investigated which camera could satisfy me without mean a hole in my skinny pocket. After reviewing several models I ended knowing several review sites. Perhaps you already know them, and if not they could be useful for you. The most I see are:
- Ken Rockwell from http://www.kenrockwell.com/
He’s a smart man, he knows he’s driving a spectacle so knows how to get his audience interested. He uses to write in a clever way that people fall in his traps and thinks he is saying contradictory or false statements, meanwhile he laughs and have a great time seeing the buzz of the passionate crowd. As a US citizen he explains clear and directly.
From him I learned to use my equipment as tools, not ornaments; I learned everything I know about filters, tripods, cameras, accessories, terminology, etcetera. Actually I know a lot of English words related to photography but I unknown their equivalent in Spanish.
About his side as a photographer I like his naturalness to compose and the bright colors, but to say the truth I’m more attracted to his opinions.
- Ming Thein from http://blog.mingthein.com/
He is a professional photographer. From him I learned to be careful with my equipment to extract the most of them; the importance to have a language in our images, doesn’t matter if you’re shooting a cell phone or medium format; and his most important lesson to me is to choose always a title for my pictures, sometimes I got good titles, sometimes not.
About his side as a photographer actually he is the perfect reason I don’t want to be ever a photographer, so my link to my pictures is called “my pictures” and not “portfolio” for that motive. It’s not that his photographs have an imperfection, far from that, actually they are perfect, doesn’t matter if he uses his iPhone or his Pentax 645Z. But when I see his photographs I feel that he’s not interested in the subject or object portrayed beyond a medium to get a photograph to show. In my case a camera just matters to save memories and to express feelings of the moment. so: No, I don’t want to be a professional photographer.
His passion for photography don’t translates in a photography with soul.
- Trey Ratcliff from http://www.stuckincustoms.com/
He is an adventurer. He travels the world and get amazing views. From him I learned to don’t be afraid of software as a tool to get the photograph in the way I see with my eyes and not in the way the camera, an object, see it. He is amazing because he didn’t study photography so in a certain way he’s a Texan that has built his name with a very personal way to be not related to other photographers in the past. If you search online for “HDR” you’re going to find him for sure.
As a photographer I like very much his photographs of landscapes, but I’m not much attracted when his HDR technique is overdone (what was more in the past and sometimes in urban landscapes) because I feel like I’m having an overdose of candy. But the man is cool.
- Steve McCurry from https://stevemccurry.wordpress.com/
The legendary photographer. Actually is perhaps the only professional photographer I really, but really, I’m fan. From him I learned to be humble and natural, the important is what you see, not what your camera see.
Besides I purchased my Sony R1 because I saw a TV spot in youtube with him grabbing the camera in India. Of course I know that he uses a Nikon but to me was enough to see what a master like him could make with a camera accessible to me.
And that’s all. To take the photograph I had in my mind from Ken Rockwell the confidence to use my cell phone as the important tool it is; from Ming Thein a careful way to shoot with a composition; from Trey Ratcliff the liberty to edit the photograph until it matched what my eyes saw; and from Steve McCurry to capture a meaningful moment for me.
A peaceful night is nigh, again…
Juliaca is my city, the place where I born and the place that define part of who I am. I want to dedicate this post to my friend Dan in the far Romania for whom I hope this can show a bit of what probably is an exotic city even in Peru.
Our city is at 3825 meters above sea level (12,549 ft.) in the Andean plateau, in a region near Bolivia and the old lake Titicaca. Among the several civilizations coming from the deserts of the coast, the highlands and the jungles the main and more numerous are the Aymara (my group), the Quechua and the Westerners from the coast. If I had to abstract the city it could have the following parts.
The heart: Apu Huaynarroque
Can you see the almost triangular hill? That’s the Apu (sacred hill) Huaynarroque. This is the heart of the city for at least three thousand years. Probably the name was originally Xullaca or Hullaqa with the meaning now long time ago forgotten. We were a city usually under the domain of several Empires and Kingdoms, first Uros civilizations, after that Aymaras Empires, Kingdoms of Collas and Lupaqas, the Inca Empire, after that the invasion of Spain that couldn’t erase us, after the independence we still grew and with the arrive of the train the city recovered the richness of old times with trade.
But the connection across those ages always was and is the Apu Huaynarroque, the sacred hill with two peaks because the unity has inside symmetries, one, two, three, until seven symmetries…
With Spaniards came the Roman church, with their figures of a Christ with blood and suffering, their divinities saying that the guilt is genetic and the pleasure is forbidden until the afterlife. So different to our religions where life is enjoyed and we say thanks to the Earth and to Sky and everything is connected and we are made to be happy. So Spaniards imposed a big cross in the top of our Apu and centuries after when Spaniards were just in History books their descendants made a sculpture of Christ, a big one in the top of the sacred hill.
I went there several times, once per week, but not for the sculpture but because the hill. There are always two or three persons praying. I go because the sky looks even closer to us.
The shadow over the city…
Being the most sacred place this is where the most important parties for our civilizations always occurs. Our muted colors are dressed with intense colors. But my favorite ones are the colors of sky at dusk.
The muscle: Trading
Everybody in Juliaca works trading because we are connected with the coast the jungle and near countries, so people sells hundreds of varieties of potatos, corn, exotic fruits and animals from the jungle, fish from the lake Titicaca and the sea, fine clothes from Bolivia and made in the old cities, laptops, photographic cameras and products from the black market that are impossible to get even in the capital. Sadly there is this side of the illegal trading too, in part because the State (except the tax office that is the only efficient organism) is a distant rumor: we are not only in the geographic frontier but in a social frontier. Everything works like in a parallel side without government.
In the streets and public parties there are always people selling food:
Trucks stop in middle of their long travels to sell fruits like pineapples or in this case bricks:
And the night is illuminated by business and street sellers in extensive sectors of the city:
Since the origin of the city thousands of years ago until our modern days we always have preferred as a symbol of status products of brilliant colors, usually in our historical tricycles:
And frequently we see new ways to sell, as these news seller traveling the city:
The blood: Transport systems
The train is what made the explosive growth of Juliaca possible. The English engineers came and go and after them at the beginnings of Twentieth century Italians came and developed the trading of Alpaca wool, recovering something of our previous richness, according to colonial documents after the Spanish invasion some particulars could have 20, 000 heads of Alpaca livestock. The train connect us with Cusco and Arequipa, still is used by tourists but mostly for enterprises.
Also we have an international airport so our sky also is filled with the noise of planes and some times the fighters of the Air Force:
Bicycles still are widely used, specially in the corners of the city, but cars are being seen as more prestigious:
Motorbikes and modified motorcycles are gaining much popularity because the city with near a quarter of million of population is quite big for use the old tricycles:
Aguayos, they are textiles where ladies carry merchandise or babies in their back, it’s my favorite way of transport (but I’m not a baby anymore hehe) and the patterns indicate the city and region where it was woven, they are in the places of the Inca Empire but in Juliaca still you can see more than other cities:
But the pillar in our city is the tricycle, the city surrounding the Apu actually is a flat surface so they don’t require a big effort. In the beginning they were used mostly to move merchandise but they evolved so they could take passengers, I like much more to use tricycles than closed cars or mototaxis. It feels to me so free and noble to be moved with the force of a human being.
I know that it’s not the best of the photographs (I was trying instead to portrait the lady and her shadow) but it’s just an introduction to the following post in the following weeks.
A little rant
Usually to westerners (and not just the foreign visitors that need to travel to Bolivia, Cusco or Arequipa but also Peruvians from the coast) Juliaca has the fame of an ugly city. Actually it’s not a touristic city, we are forgotten by the governments because we are seen as wild natives, and a big percentage of population came recently from the countryside without knowing that the city is different creature to their communities in the nature (for example they drop garbage to the street thinking it as an “outside”), so the city grew without urban planning and without professionals to educate. But there is the mistake to consider us as a kind of inferior people. With education we can reach high levels as any human on the Earth. But prejudices win and we, once a high culture with interest in genetics, continental trading, mystic philosophy and a diverse society, are considered like wild people that should be banned to another country, the city nuked and replaced by the noble and Westerner culture from the coast… while they respect and worship their robbers and dangerous people as heroes just because they are Westerners as well (in USA it could be similar perhaps to gangsta music I guess, I hear it but I don’t share the message in those songs of inevitable fate for born in a specific place)
Fortunately we don’t have two plagues:
- American, European or government “help” in the form of donations that turn the towns around us in pools of poverty because people find easier to find an excuse to survive without work (for example they sell the jackets donated to them in winter) and no one reason to get education.
- Tourism: tourists want to experience the “real” life so we should use our party clothes every day, we should just live in adobe homes (and not from the Imperial style but that Spanish kind that wasn’t appropriate to us for climate differences) and we shouldn’t have TV’s, tablets or cell phones with touchscreens and if we don’t take a shower the better because that way we look darker and wilder to the lenses of the photographers (as the guys that come from the capital) so they can appear as sensible people touched by the poverty (LMAO!).
If those two plagues had been in my city instead of a person capable to understand you dear reader I had been a young man asking you one dollar to survive with a disguise living in the worst conditions. For that reason every time when I read in internet travelers about the ugliness of our city (and I respect the right to say that because it’s the truth) I always feel the need to explain why my city, and I’m proud of it, is ugly, I’m not to alter the post to show it as a beautiful city, it’s not, but also I’m going to show that there are nice places too. And I hope to give an answer to the occasional reader that could come looking for data :-)
But until then a piece of beauty from my parents’ garden ;-)
The image is a successful “scan” with my digital camera of a Fujfilm Pro400H negative film shot in a Samsung ECX-1 film camera and processed with Capture One. Film is so expensive so I need to reduce costs… besides there is no much difference between what the lab gave me and my processed files.
It’s part of the method I’ve developed and of course I’m going to share here :-)
A silver line among warden hills at the borders of Juliaca city. Soon the sky will be a spectacle of millions of stars and it, this line, a mirror of them.