Sweltering sweaty days and equal nights where the temperature hovered between 35 and 43 degrees were not the best circumstances to sleep in fully equipped but a very warm room with rickety air-condition. Our friend Marilyn offered us the room at the side of her neatly brick build house for no costs and to keep our stay as unnoticed as possible, Geo and I choose to not switch on the cooling machine but sleep in the tents outside.
Our host loved the bustle of people around, young couples met while traveling came to this rather open Mennonite community to seek quietness and probably a very different experience altogether. While a Spanish modern free-minded fight-for-my-rights sort of girl and a neat looking American guy lay kissing, embracing uncovered limps in the hammock in front of Marilyn’s main entrance, I already knew quietness was gone.
‘Where are you from?’, ‘Where are you going to?’ and ‘Why did you choose to be here?’ were the questions as soon as I entered the kitchen to make a chai where after I would enjoy my much needed quiet time to embroider and read. If only I could find a place where I would be able to be alone.
I found such a place. Right under the air-condition unit. And that is where I started to attach these flat stones I found on the beach of Altea, Spain. My husband and I made a stroll over the beach, a short time before we would leave the house we lived in to travel by motorbike through South America. Walking bare footed over cold beach pebbles was a welcome change and my eyes quickly found a purpose for these beautiful shaped, soft marbles.
From being earlier in Filadelfia I knew the big department store being materialized by Mennonites had a good stock of DMC embroidery floss. Women apparently still do a lot of handwork and to both our surprise the works that were going on had finished: a whole new, large, almost Americanized plaza had become a reality. In the middle of the dry Chaco, here was a mall, without music to not enhance the spending senses where I could buy threads and we could get all we needed to start our adventure.
And this piece of fabric has been through a whole lot. From the warm, exhaustive but quiet of the ranch of Marilyn to the mild temperatures of the higher Andes where fires could be made. Climbing higher with the motorbike loaded to an extent it should not have, we found absolute stunning places to camp. And as always, upon waking up I admire where I am. I seek a spot to sit, usually worked out the evening before, just after we’d arrived.
It might be a bit unusual but I always seek, want and need beauty to my senses and the place where I pitch my tent must have a pretty backdrop. The camp fire has to be placed a bit away from the tent but not too far as I like to incorporate the pit with the tent into the scenery for the frame my camera allows.
Camping to me has a lot of charm. The simplicity does not mean less work, just a certain organized way of arrangements: preparing a fire, (making tea), finding the perfect composition for a photo, keeping the fire going, strolling excitedly around to take in the supreme environment from all angles, keeping the fire going, making a tea if I did not do that earlier and when the excitement of where I am has fainted to a stage where I can simply admire it, I will sit at the fire, drink the chai and embroider, read, look and see.
That’s why this piece of fabric took me ages to finish.
When we stayed a couple of days in Tupiza, Bolivia, I wanted to make a hike with one night of camping in between. I had everything figured out except that there was a collapse of huge boulders blocking the path carved out deeply into a canyon. There was no way to go around it, and instead I enjoyed an early stop with a long evening of embroidery, camp fire and chai.
Sometimes settings were so stunning I could barely make time free to just sit and enjoy.
Sometimes where we were was uncomfortable to an extend I could not sit still and enjoy.
Mosquitoes, sticky heat, sound of motor vehicles and people passing throughout the night. It is a thing at the banks of the Amazon, there where the outside world meets the start of the depths of the mighty Amazon forest. Sometimes there is absolutely no quietness, nor for the ears to hear, nor for the mind to thrive on. And a contemplating practice such as embroidering becomes simply impossible.
Tocache, a town in the northeast of Peru was a very welcome refuge for us. Our hotel room not worth mentioning, in contrast with the town, its people, the absence of mosquitoes and the restaurants. Our sticky tent life was over for a few days and we had a few good night rest. And I the quietness of a roof top lodging a cat.
From Peru the fabric with pebbles went to Ecuador where it was finished. In Germany the green layer was applied and in Hungary I stitched it together.
This piece of fabric was cut round as I wanted to make a drawstring pouch the old-fashioned way. Even though I choose very lightweight materials, the tunnel through which the string would go became too bulky and the opening would have a gap. I took it apart and made it into a different design.
Materials I used are silk hemp cotton from Nepal. The green comes from a men’s shirt we bought in the mercado central in Villazon, Bolivia. An authentic L.L. Bean shirt somehow got there and was cut in pieces once the sun had beaten it. When you are interested in this pouch, click the link.
More about motorbike travel across South America by 150cc vehicle.