- Posted April 9, 2012 by
Puerto Maldonado, Peru
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Photo essays: Your stories in pictures
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South America is the land where my Mothers roots have been left behind, along with her memories of childhood. Wanting to follow the steps of her past, I started and ended my journey in Peru; a country that opened and broke my heart all at once.
With regard to that country, I remember not so much the things that I visited and the ruins I walked into, but rather the people I saw, the look on their faces, the sorrow in their eyes and the deep, tired lines that ran down their skin.
While conversing with local citizens, a few had mentioned a sense of “Peruvian sadness”, which I hadn’t understood the meaning, until I developed the photographs I had taken along the way.
The Inca Empire radiated throughout Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Ecuador and Chile. They rapidly developed a strict hierarchical structure, and were devoted to maintain the empire. (Although I find their society and beliefs to be one of the most fascinating.) After the Inca period, the Peruvians had to endure another regime: the Spanish domination. The Conquistadores brought to Peru the language and the religion that they today use. Although the Spaniards gave Peru the importance it has today, and made Lima an academic center, it also brought its religious censorship, traumatizing the country, banning the writing of novels, forcing the persecution of non-believers and of those who dared to think. Further on with the exploitation of blacks and Indians, they established economic divisions, turning Peru into a country of social and economical inequalities, which remained, ever since their Independence.
Peru’s political history is far more complex and deeper than I have briefly drawn it, but it is perhaps there that lies the reason as to why their faces are so painfully scared.
Their past president, Alan García, had talked about national melancholy, and said :"We are what we are: sad, distrustful ... We have a natural lack of trust."
So although generalizing is unacceptable, and that they an extremely friendly and approachable community, sorrow seems to be a notable feature of their character. It most likely started with their occupiers, taking away all hopes of freedom and individuality. The people of this nation just seem to have cease expecting anything more.
It is not easily noticeable as every corner is hidden behind an extravagant and mind-blowing spectacle of colors, which is why I took the photographs in black and white, where you can still see the cracks through their smiles.
Looking into their eyes through my lens had brought tears to my own more than once, but this trip freed my spirit and nourished my soul in every possible way. The sorrow of this nation and the hopelessness of the people haunts and confuses me till now. I am curious to know if others see it in the eyes of the ones I photographed.
Moreover, this journey created inside of me a thirst to raise awareness, help and support the people of Peru. Which I will start working on now.