Are you from here?

My flight was in the early evening on Saturday, so I did have some time to discover Salta. I decided to take the cableway to have a look at the city from above. On my way up, I shared a cabin with a family from Buenos Aires. After a few minutes, the father asked me “Are you from here?” I’m usually flattered when I get complimented on the way I speak Spanish, even though most people in South America find it funny that I have a strong Spanish accent. As a matter of fact, they often ask me if I am Spanish. But, in this case, I hadn’t even opened my mouth. His question arose because it seemed to him that I wasn’t taking enough pictures to belong to the “tourist” category. I hadn’t taken any yet.

Given a third of my luggage is related to photography – two cameras plus a PC and all the batteries and chargers that go with them – I had to laugh internally. Could it be that the number of pictures one takes is becoming inversely proportional to the interest you have for the medium?

I remember that, a couple of years ago, I discovered the work of an artist called Corinne Vionnet. She collected thousands of pictures of some of the most photographed monuments, such as the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Atomium, the Pisa Tower, etc. and, for each of them, created a new image.

Photo opportunities from Corinne Vionnet - The Atomium.
Photo opportunities from Corinne Vionnet – The Atomium.

The whole project is a reflection on the originality of a picture. And the use of it in the internet era. Combined with the pictures of Martin Parr on mass tourism (“It’s a small world”), they made me swear to do my utmost best not to take the “typical” pictures when traveling. Try to have a personal look on things. With an interest for the people living in the places I visit. That’s also why I don’t appear myself in the pictures much. I don’t need to be in them to know I have been there. Especially when 7 times out of 10, I don’t like how I look. Not sure if my intention is always perceptible in my pictures. But, apparently, it is in my attitude.

Martin Parr, Pisa, Italy from the series Small World (1987-1994)
Martin Parr, Pisa, Italy from the series Small World (1987-1994)

On my way back to the hostel, I stopped for lunch… and bumped into Amélie, a Spanish teacher from France, whom I had met in the Waira hostel in Tilcara. Somehow, each destination seemed connected with the next one.

When I got back to the hostel and wanted to gather my things to go to the airport, I realised I couldn’t find the keys of the padlock anymore. And I didn’t have a lot of time left before I had to call a cab. But I couldn’t leave without my computer and my camera! I searched my trousers. Searched my jacket. Searched the little pocket I use for my money and my documents. Searched my two backpacks. Nothing. In the end, I had to ask the lady from the reception to force it open. Destroying the lock of course. There went the present from the Dutchie.


But I did make it to the airport on time. Only to discover that my flight was delayed.


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