I am in my sabbatical break. In past recent years I seldom dared to dream how this would turn out to be. It caused a big anticipation, mix of stress caused by the unknown as to what you discover after so many decades of yourself with an almost unlimited time with no plans and no structure. I always thought it would be a scene from Julio Cortazar’s Blow-Up story: I would be sitting in a Buenos Aries apartment looking at a park and repeating as the main character goes, ‘I think I understand what I see’. And then the reality would part my imagination and I would really see and understand.
I am sitting in a Buenos Aries apartment today. I have done Patagonia, Atacama, Casablanca Valley, Santiago de Chile, Iguazu, Salta and the North plains. Past few days the folks in the hotel, the taxi stand and the breakfast café staff started to call me by my name ‘Ildeniz’. The neighbourhood of Palermo Hollywood almost feels like I am in Izmir somewhere; small residential feel with old eighteen century houses renovated recently with gentrification in Palermo Hollywood; small shop owners and neighbours in their daily routines. The corner stores are always closed, maybe owners went for summer holidays. I hear the noisy motors of the 80s’ taxi cars passing by.
Finally the chaos, adrenaline, logistics, the heat is normalizing. I am trying not to admit but time to see and understand has come. Just like the time to go home nears close; uncomfortably so.
South America remained to be ‘conquered’ in my head. Although few prior forays into Peru and Mexico gave some glimpse, I knew it was immensely big and varied with so much to understand. I find it so fascinating because it is almost an executive summary of what would happen in a short period of fourteen thousand years if a handful people got to an uninhabited land, leaving the other side of the earth we been evolving for almost five million years or so… And they got disrupted by a major wave of almost ‘aliens’ just five hundred years ago which almost wiped them out entirely and eventually they changed and adopted with the flow of immigrants from old world.
Today it is as vibrant, fascinating and nonsensical as any other emerging country including my own, class and racial segregation rampant, amazing culture and arts, politics dominated by corruption but kept alive by hopeful masses who largely speak politics and soccer, amazing untouched beauty and vast lands, repressive religion as anywhere else, fabulous food which life is built around, and colors and colors and colors.