An undiscovered jewel, Bolivia conceals an ancient history within the borders of its transcendent landscapes. Nature at its wildest, incredible geography, from dusty red mountains and prehistoric jungles to high altitude cities and solitary villages, a traditional and intense cultural experience, Bolivia is as breathtaking as it is seriously challenging. There is an antique grace in the glance of people, a warm and passionate beauty in their smiles, an atavistic strength in the way they always seem to overcome all of the odds.
Delve into it, breathe it in, let it change you.
The resilient work that the competent and amazing therapists do at the “Sol en Casa – Yanapasayku” Foundation. Every morning, as I open the creaky, old wooden door, the hum of happy talk, flushes of emotions, voices, glimpses, laughters strike me. Between pedagogy, music- and art-therapy, yoga, cooking and baking classes, gardening and manual skill laboratories, the minutes, hours and days slide by, leaving me with a sense of contentment, hope and gentle fierceness in the stringers of my heart.
It’s a challenge, it’s a race after patience, time and time again, it’s a dedicated shaving of excess from the layers of my mind.
With over 36 indigenous cultures, most with their own language, Bolivia blends ageless, traditional customs and values with a practical modern lifestyle in an impressive way. Many indigenous people still wear traditional clothes, cure illnesses using natural remedies (observe, learn, take it home with you) and speak their native language. These fascinating, ancient cultures, like Quechua, Aymara, Guarani and Incas, have left a peculiar imprint all over the valleys, among the giant ferns in the tropical jungle, in the cracks of the Andean cliffs and in the dry mountain deserts.
Walking down these voracious and colorful roads feels different, almost unique. The shoes, brushing against the street pavement, leave an imprint unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. The astonishing and vibrant colors, the pungent smell, the lickerish taste, the conglomerate of people: here, even the tiniest marble speaks a language that’s been lost elsewhere in the world.
“Smiling zebras”: these kind traffic wardens make sure that people can get safely to the other side of the road, which here, among these chaotic streets, can be extremely tricky, dangerous and gift you with a near-death experience. Their cheerful vibes and playfulness render your morning all the more sweet.
Because empanadas, salteñas, cuñapes, humintas. Mouthwatering. No need to explain it any further.
Sometimes everything will be dreadful. You’ll be missing your mom, your sister, your boyfriend, your sister’s boyfriend, your best friends’ plants and yes, your hairdresser, too. You will feel an ache in you heart every time you hear their voices, their laughters, their smiles through an ocean’s distance; you will actually end up feeling that you’re having a (loving, nonetheless) relationship with your phone – when you’re lucky enough to have an Internet connection, that’s for sure. I know it sounds more like a reason not to move to the other side of the world, but believe me when I tell you that everyday that goes by, it makes me appreciate the people I call home, the places I’ve always loved, the food that tastes like family (I’m Italian, don’t blame it on me) more intensely. Every morning I count my blessings and it seems the more I’m grateful for all the beauty in my life, the more my life is beautiful.
As hard as nostalgia may hit you from time to time, you will return home with a spirit stronger than ever and a glimpse of magnificence between the palms of your hands.
sono gocce di sale che inumidiscono la pelle.
è il ronzio sordo di paure nascoste, incastonate tra gli stralci di una vita sorpresa a camminare su un sentiero di cotone, il passo lento di un ricordo sotterrato.
è il tramestio di una gioia infantile, di una corsa orfana, di un gioco dimenticato.
il verde, sempre più verde, e l’azzurro, sempre più azzurro, di un sogno di bambina, di occhi spalancati sulla memoria, di parole spezzate e strozzate.
è una mano di ruvida saggezza, il pianto sommesso di trecce di grano, una carezza appoggiata su una scala malconcia, un cappello di misteri indovinati.
sono foglie di felicità carpita al vento, tranci di legno tramutatisi in polvere, perle d’argento in una scia di lucciole, canti di luna mentre i pensieri si assopiscono in un rifugio di braccia e lana.
è il sapore acre di una solitudine improvvisa, di una lancia di vetro e magenta, di una corda rovente tra le dita, di un grido annientato su una nota di dolore, di labbra ricurve su se stesse.
è l’assenza di vocali, inchiodate al suolo da un bastone di cera, l’incompletezza di lettere incastrate tra respiri asfissiati.
ma è un’aria che sgorga da un’imperitura pietra, un nome intagliato nell’amore, custode di una gentilezza arcaica, di un’armonia rievocata, di una resurrezione antica.
ancora, ed una volta, ancora.
Golden rays are slipping from the tightness of the leaves. It is five in the morning, now, too early for a steamy hot cup of coffee, but not for my thoughts to run wild through the paths of my mind. I let them, I need them to.
Bolivia is a sour land, charged with oxymorons.
Everything, here, is the antithesis of everything else. And everything is one in its own essence, but it is not left alone to itself. The tiniest sliver, in this ancestral land, connects to every other through an ostensible feeble transparency and creates harmony. It is not solitude, it’s a gift.
Because the sky turns peach pink, orange, purple, magenta every night, every day.
Because the days, here among the Andean cliffs, enclose a secret that only by closing your eyes you’re able to see, to perceive, to comprehend.
Because seasons alternate daily with the liveliness of a child who is learning to walk, but the predictability of it all renders it a joyful adventure.
Because the ground has the colour of blood lost, despised, desired, cried for, loved, spilled over, always spilled over.
Because the colour of the world, here among these dusty roads, only makes sense if you immerse yourself in the peaceful silence and listen to the wind howling through the cracks of the earth.
And I have the privilege to witness the shapes of this country’s allure shifting with constant wonder, even if some days, some hours, some minutes prove to be harder, harsher, more challenging than others. There are evenings in which I sip the loneliness pouring down from my lips, like liquid, tangible substance, suddenly made real. The leap of faith required by such an experience leaves you breathless, heart pumping and eyes blinking rapidly, adrenaline jumping through your veins, tears streaming down your face, hands reaching out for the unpredictable unknown.
But it also leaves you eyes wide open sitting on the lakeside inundated by a breathtaking sunset, surrounded by extraordinary people. It leaves you with tired, sore feet at the end of a long day spent strolling on sacred ground, through the jungle, on the peak of the mountain. It leaves you with a bittersweet tinge on your lips, in the roots of your heart, between your palms, but extreme poverty tends to have such an effect. It leaves you with the lucid awareness of what it mean to be living on a land of vivid contrasts. It leaves you with the unassailable certainty that the primordial history, the atavistic mystery beneath this soil will reward you with a gift far greater than you could have ever dreamed of.
they are the gentle touches of strangers passing by and smiling at your heart.
they are the footprints of worn-out boots leaving unavoidable marks on wet sand, over the slick rock, on that undefined path.
it is the tenderness in the eyes of a child whose fingers envelop your hand as a blanket of wonder. The same eyes which attempt to swallow the world in its wholeness, for there is only magic to be seen.
they are the cracks wide open for the warm golden to get in and simmer for a while. Only for a while.
it is the ancestral and immemorial flavour of a land as ancient as humanity; in its bowels, millions of strides to be withheld and every single throb enshrines the shudder of a life.
it is the sound of tiny feet rushing and hurring and scrambling and dropping and tumbling down and, finally, picking themselves up again, with the same candor of a deep breath.
they are the slumbers fading because of a wild and fierce weeping, seeping through your veins until your blood starts pumping swiflty and vigorously, painting your eyesight purple-red.
they are childhood thoughts imploring warmth, fondness and a loving hand on the forehead.
they are the invisible sensations soaking the surrounding air, penetrating the pores of my skin, brewing the flaming perceptions, spilling over words from the tip of my fingers.
Blurred images of a long lost dream crawl their way back into the corners of my eyes. A distant sound of birds singing, sun rising, water streaming down the current of last night’s thoughts wakes me up. As I slowly open my eyelashes, the bittersweet flavor of dreams is stirred with the tangibleness of reality. It’s a tangled mess of golden chains and silver linings.
All is quiet, all is peaceful, all is. Simply.
As I go about my morning, I notice how stillness permeates everything. As I clothe, the perfume of my cream falls captive in the intertwined fabric of my blouse, leaving an invisible mark on my nude skin. And I start wondering. What if our skin is filled with temporary imprints we cannot even see? They say our skin cells replace themselves every 35 days. It means that the memory of that light touch, of another’s body beneath your fingers, of a bruised knee against the wall, of a fallen leaf between your palms, is exactly that: a memory. Just that. Imagine what it would mean for us if we could regenerate our hearts like we do our skin. Imagine what impact it would have on the world if every month or so we could perceive the same routines, same issues, same people in our lives under a peculiar and newer and brighter and more loving light. Would we approach things in a different manner? Would we detect unusual habits in our lives and actually play an active role in making a difference? Would we look at the golden sunbeams from a terrifying comforting place with a magic eye?
Because the truth is that we think we have so much time left to spare that we end up taking for granted most of our surroundings in these precious, short lives of ours.
If we wish for things to be different, we must first feel them differently. We must first feel the regeneration under our skin, transforming itself into a distinct version of ourselves. Whether it be more beautiful or more terrifying, you decide. But things are only wonderful if you love them.
If I love them.
Home is the crunchy sound of fragmented leaves fracturing under the pressure of my boots.
Home is the warm amber of the sun hitting the mountains just right.
Home are the strings of a guitar anxiously waiting to be touched.
Home is the coffee stem in the early hours of the morning, gently brushing against the glass window.
Home are my feet burning, my head stone-still, my heart spinning and the blood pumping vigorously up and down the vein stream.
Home is the worn-out red of a backpack loudly whispering to be filled to the brim.
Home is the sound of a familiar voice in the distance, one you thought you had erased from memory, one you realize you could never leave behind.
Home are the seasoned pages of a children’s book that keep reminding you of the sweetness of reality.
Home are the soothing words of a not-so stranger spilling over with kindness and raw vulnerability and motherly nurture.
Home is the tenderness of a delicate hand softly asking to be held, unveiling the world as a gigantic playground and you can swing, swing, swing until you have caressed the clouds with childlike wonder.
Home is everywhere I walk, everyone I love, every scent I breathe in.
arrampico. guardo le stelle e vedo il cielo, guardo il cielo e vedo sorrisi. ritrovo me ogni giorno, in piccole cose. e mi piace.
mi piace quando stendo la biancheria sul davanzale proprio nell’ora in cui il sole batte sulla mia schiena e mi scalda il ventre e le vertebre.
mi piace quando premo i polpastrelli della mano sinistra uno contro l’altro e li scopro pieni di calli, perché la destra sulla roccia è un po’ meno forte ed un po’ meno coraggiosa.
mi piace quando faccio saltare i ceci in padella e l’alloro scricchiola e s’accartoccia e rilascia il suo sapore.
mi piace quando il fumo della sigaretta si mescola al profumo della mia crema. E allora sì che è tutto confuso e bellissimo e mi si storce un po’ il naso.
mi piace quando le risate dei miei amici mi arrivano dritte dove devono arrivare; dentro, dove rimangono, e l’eco delle parole che seguono quelle risate hanno un senso tutto particolare, anche quando sono più dure di come vorrei o non sono quelle che mi aspetto.
mi piace quando l’odore di legno umido e grezzo si confonde con quello della lana cotta e degli scarponi bagnati e tempo dieci minuti ed il calore del fuoco lo esalta fino a renderlo essenza.
mi piace quando scopro di poter pensare e parlare in tre lingue diverse contemporaneamente. dio se mi piace.
mi piace quando avverto la paura e sento che sale ed ora, invece che scappare, ci vado incontro e ci parlo e capisco che, ad esserne consapevoli, già vuol dire che ho le forze ed il coraggio per superarla. anche se a volte è proprio difficile e vorrei non farlo e m’incazzo e vorrei mandare tutto a farsi inchiappettare.
mi piace quando vedo lo zaino sempre lì sotto la scrivania mezzo pronto e mezzo da preparare.
mi piace come due semplici parole “ci sono” mi facciano sentire a casa. Cristo, è bello.
mi piace quando sono sola e leggo e bevo tè e c’è del jazz in sottofondo oppure no e ballo, ma non troppo sennò poi vado a sbattere dappertutto ché il parquet è scivoloso e io scoordinata. ma tanto ho scoperto che se scaldi della cioccolata fondente a bagnomaria e te la applichi sui lividi finché non si secca, poi il livido scompare. a meno che, come me, nove volte su dieci, non finisci per mangiarti la cioccolata. allora non funziona. e io continuo a ballare.