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Likankapu at twilight

Likankapu at twilight

By Pablo Cingolani

That is why photography moves you. Another moment, an invisible but strong chain of moments: the moment someone shot the camera, the moment you open your eyes and see it.

Eternity frozen: that's why photography moves you. Another moment, an invisible but strong chain of moments: the moment someone shot the camera, the moment you open your eyes and see it. And it dazzles you, it moves you, it shakes you, it devastates you like this photo: Likankapu at twilight.

You haven't seen it all, brother. You still had to see this: the serene mass of the enigmatic volcano in the highest desert on the planet when the best light of day ends and the night takes over. By Viracocha, what energy! You haven't seen everything: that's why life is worth it. For seeing it, for walking it, for feeling it, for walking it, for smelling it, for walking it. In short: to live it and nothing else.

The Likankapu (Licancabur on the maps) in the center; to your left: the Juriques. The Likankapu, with its unwavering beauty, with its incredible symmetry, is the magical mountain of the strangest desert on the planet. The colossus marks the limits: ahead, stretches the wasteland closest to heaven. Los Lípez, 4500 meters high. Behind it is the Atacama, the driest territory on the planet. Ahead is Bolivia. Behind, is Chile. Ahead, although we cannot see it, there is a tear shed by some princess, a lagoon baptized by the color of its waters: green. A green that when you see it, you understand that you have never seen a green like this; that, as I was saying, you have not seen everything, that it is worth living to see a green like that of those waters. Behind, although we cannot see it, in the distance where the sun is burying, is the ocean, the Mama kocha, the mother of all waters, the South Sea, the home of the dead. Uniting the desert of the volcanoes with the Pacific is an unrepeatable experience that all of us, at least once in our lives, should be able to live it.

The Likankapu was the achachila greater, the tutelary hill of that region that was always a step on a route that linked another of the hearts of the continent. From the mythical hunting country, from the Chaco, through the valleys and the highlands, through the sands, to the sea. The Likankapu was a sanctuary. Under its shadow, ceremonies of gratitude and leave were held. The vestiges indicate this. Today is a border; before it was the center of the universe, the axis mundi, a cosmic eye where the gods saw us. The Likankapu was a god. A monumental god, like the mountain itself.

Just decades ago, a restless man saw him stand invincible. He told his children the story of an unlikely volcano, a dream that rises haughtily at the end of an infinite stone plateau, at the edge of the sky. One of them, Alfonso Barrero, my brother in the tear, went looking for him with his camera. He took that image that has always moved me. Years ago he gave me a paper copy that I treasure. Yesterday he sent me the same image this way, blessed JPEG format. I couldn't help myself, old man: to your name, I open the chest, and I throw it to roll around the net. May the world be moved by the Likankapu! May the Likankapu reign again, protect us again, even if it is the moment when you see the photograph! Tata Likankapu! I invoke you, I ask you, I beg you: congratulations!

Eternity that freezes to bring you a handful of joys… You haven't seen everything. The Likankapu is waiting for you. But come on, you have a life ahead of you to see it. You have a life in your hands to feel it. You have a life: your life.

* Pablo Cingolani
3/2/2006