early morning we wake to find ourselves waiting in Gatun Lake. Passengers on shore excursions are gone by 8.30 and will rejoin the ship on the Pacific side. It’s a sparkly day, clear skies and tropical colours. Canadian made tugs shepherd us to and from the locks. Red channel markers lead the way …
Funsketching logos of other ships … then a long line of returning passengers to the ship — quick lines and splashes of colour easily capture them
Travel journals can record historic places, overnight stays and driving routes; they can also hold memories of personal significance, instantly recalling quiet moments.
We descend from the harsh heights above Purmamarca, into a softer friendlier area, leading to Salinas. Wild donkeys live here, happily grazing, descendants of burros set free by the Spanish army drove mule trains, following the edge of the Andes south. They graze here as Salinas is pure salt, refreshed every year by rains washing fresh salt to evaporate here. The land can literally blind one. The road cuts straight across.
“Bajo la luz y se llevo todo.” The light dimmed and everything was swept away … when a storm washed out the road to Tilcara. The intense reds and ochre are complimented by the greens, make the land sing. Yet as I celebrate these colours, I am told this is a harsh, challenging place to live.
We climbed up from Purmamarca: Purma atop – marca is settlement. Mesas here are eroded into gothic cathedral-like shapes. They are bare of animals, we are told. Ines is sitting quietly in the back. At the summit, I ask how she is doing. OK, she smiles but she has a touch of siroche. Selfishly I feel fine.
Our next stop was in Volcan – not a volcano but the name of a storm that brings sand and stones down from the mountains, altering landscapes by burying roads and houses. (Glad we were there on a calm, sunny day). No wonder pueblos are built high: closer to God and wind damage in Purmamarca Canyon.
As I settled into the Salta journey, no day felt complete without a sketch. Words also had to be included, such as Sandwicheria: a mesh of Anglo Spanish.
Sugar cane in Salta is used for sugar. In Tucuman it is also used for alcohol and paper as it is of poorer quality. Or so I was told in Salta!
We drove along the fertile valley of the Rio Grande and I drew the little houses with their water tanks jauntily on high.
Returning to Argentina is always special; travels with my school friend Ines, even more so. I had never been to Salta before this trip. The landscape, so filled with colour, amazed me. I sketched something every day!
For this trip I had a small handmade book from my friend JA. It is seven inches by five, a double page: 7x 9.5″. Small notes evoke huge memories. I can hear the birds, water bubbling past, and smell herbs wafting in the evening air.
I can hear
In Austria, which is so neat and clean, I found myself echoing this in fine detailed drawings. These houses dotted the rural landscape. They always appear like mushrooms, expanding as they go up with large balconies and big overhangs on the roofs.
When travelling the westcoast of South America with my father, I watched bananas being loaded onto our cargo ship and heard stories about workers being bitten by nasty spiders or other hazardous insects. Now bananas are grown in perforated plastic bags, keeping insects out. Each tree shows the life span:Dead old tree on right, new adult in centre, teenaged tree on left. Each new shoot produces one bunch up to 3 feet long. A flower grows into an early bunch. See below:
As the flower petals die off, the baby bananas are revealed and curl around the inner stem.