OLLAGUE EN SOL DE LA MANANA 60 BY  48
Öllague en Sol de la Mañana 60 x 48" 1995
The great volcano Öllague, 20,000’+, venting a plume from its depths into the morning sky. The world’s highest mine is not far from that steaming spot. At over 19,000’ Aymara laborers carved bright yellow rock from the mountain, chewing coca leaf to endure the cold and altitude as they did at other lofty mines in the region before the price of sulfur crashed. Now the abandoned miners’ camps, like lonely Legionnaire’s outposts, serve the traveler as refuge from the winds that kick up with the afternoon, lashing our persons and belongings, covering all with abrasive volcanic grit. The nylon of my pack is torn, my hands and nails ragged; I cannot pass a comb through dust-matted hair. Finally showering days later in La Paz, mud runs over my shoulders down the drain.

The geyser basin, Sol de la Mañana, the Morning Sun. A place of bubbling pink and yellow mud, wafting sulfurous steam...a clamorous, unstable land. A peek over the lip of a crater is rewarded with a belch of burbling earth and the stink of rotten egg. Only on leaving this place do we notice the sign warning of Danger of Death to those who wander here.

In this luminous landscape I collect pebbles and find to childlike pleasure translucent quartz bits tinged with oxides. In this clear light, the desolate mountains glow, animated by changing color as shades of chrome yellow, Mars red, burnt orange and ocher wane to the cobalt violet of the Andean dusk.

 


in the Andes

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