Travel Log: South America, 2013 08-03-2013


This time around, the travel log reads, "There is no travel log."

I took no notes about my trip while I was south of the equator. I took only a trifling few photographs. As such, I didn't think about how to frame what I was seeing and experiencing from behind a camera. And I didn't think about what a potential travel log might look like: what sort of narrative I might construct to tie everything together, which events would be most salient for a potential audience, whether it would be descriptive or anecdotal or otherwise. In previous trips, these were thoughts that crossed my mind for brief moments, never persisting for too long but diving and resurfacing with relative frequency nonetheless. Put another way, I was not always in the moment. It may have been a sort of naivety that accompanies the rookie traveler, or some sort of grandiose notion about the importance of recording my travels for all to see. Whatever the reason, I was not always present. Not fully immersed.

But this was not the case in South America. For two weeks, I traipsed through scorching heat unlike anything I have ever felt with my friend, Clementine, as she introduced me to a brave new world. We discovered the spectacle of Carnaval and wandered the streets of Rio de Janeiro, we baked in the Sun and basked in the sandy shores of Ilha Grande, and we tripped all over ourselves in unabashedly delirious charm for Buenos Aires. And for two weeks, I found myself utterly entranced. It was all a hypnotically nebulous blur.

For two weeks, we pursued moments.

Every morning when Clementine and I awoke, we asked ourselves, "what sounds wonderful right now?" Then we did it, whether it was arbitrarily selecting a neighborhood for aimless exploration, picking a specific destination--a church, a street fair, an island, or a mountaintop--and embarking on a journey, or finding a nice spot to relax and watch the sweat drip from our pores. And if we thought of something better along the way, we did that instead. It was a fortnight spent leisurely creating instances in space and in time that were as close to ideal as we could muster. From ambrosial mornings through sun-drenched days into euphoric nights, time passed only when we let it.

On the plane ride back to the northern hemisphere, I wondered if there was any particularly good reason for me to try to compose a log of my Brasilian and Argentine travels. Would it help me to better persist these wondrous moments in my mind? Would it lead to a profound discovery, lifted from the haze of ecstatic memory? Ultimately, the only thing that I could think of in support of the idea was that it could be a swell read for anyone who was curious. If you are just such a person, I wish that I could say that I am sorry for having nothing particularly sage or intriguing to impart, but... my goodness.

I need to go back to Rio. Join me next time. There are some people that you should meet.