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The call to travel

If you sit with the elders from Paracas and Nazca, two of the oldest coastal human settlements from southern Peru, you will certainly listen to many of their stories about the sea. The Pacific Ocean in this region bathes the desertic coastline with indomitable spirit, eroding and transforming the arid landscape but ironically also bringing life to one of the richest regions in marine biodiversity of the planet.

They would talk for hours about their most memorable fishing journeys, describing vividly species and weight of heroic catches, even detailing the weather conditions of those auspicious days. Anecdotic recalls of pranks played to legendary friends, most of them long gone, would make their flat bellies rise in hysterical laughter. And then, coming like one of the frequent wind storms of the region, out of nowhere, an air of seriousness would shift all the faces. You then knew they would talk about those who were claimed by the waters.

'The spirit of the sea is a jealous wife', said Don Zacharías. 'She will not tolerate another love in your life when you are with her. For us and for our fathers, this is the way it is and has been. The cult for the ocean, for she is divine and provides with life'. With melancholic eyes, like the sunset that was about to fall that afternoon, he proceeded: 'It would be a too dark place to go to recall all the ones she has claimed: family, friends, visitors, we let them rest in her waters. All of them had a second love, a second secret purpose when venturing into the sea. And the sea always knows, that's for sure'.

I kept my eyes focused on his as his stare began to get lost in the falling sun behind the waves. I felt like capturing a magical picture in my mind when I turned around and saw all of them, staring at the same point, lost in time and space.