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Argentina. Five photos (4)

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A peculiar tradition in South America is that one of setting up small shrines on the sides of roads, where an accident has taken the life of a loved one. You can see them in almost all countries, small constructions which then are inevitably littered with bottles of booze and candles, left there by the relatives that perform a pilgrimage to the same place where that person went off a road and off life in a vehicle accident.
I often wonder about how many of these shrines and chapels are in straight roads, long non-winding lines of asphalt where you have to wonder what must have happened to the driver to lose control of his vehicle. I then think that if the friends and relatives make the effort to come here and drink in celebration of the dead, the deceased must have also been fond of the bottle. Perhaps he was in the midst of putting down a bottle of “miche” or “cocuy” or rum or aguardiente, the local Latin variations of what in America would be moonshine. I can picture a beat up 1970’s Ford LTD or Chevy Impala, the steering wheel really nothing more than an impaling instrument surrounded by 2 tons of metal, cruising down a highway with a fool at the wheel, and such idiot bending the elbow too swiftly and filling up his guts with biological aviation fuel, only to lose sight of the road and smacking himself out of his existence against something on the side of the road.
Some of the shrines are pretty, of course. But this one I saw was odd in many manners. One, it was almost a miniature church, a model of something more welcoming and holy. But it was not next to a road. It was not next to anything remotely dangerous or a place where some distracted person would get killed. Sitting there, lonely on a rock, with its small cross atop its chapel-like construction, it was lovely in its simple construction. What happened to the deceased? What happened to that person, here in this desolate prairie? Did he simply fall from the 5 feet tall rock, landing awkwardly and therefore fatally? Was he attacked by a beast of the desert, a Chupacabra or something more mundane (there are snakes here)? I looked at the building and indeed there were signs of visitation. The bottles of alcohol were nearby but not immediately next to the shrine, the wax of burnt candles, the remnant of a flower here and there.
I took the photograph. It was too solemn to be in the beautiful colors of the desert: the red of the rock, the blue of the sky, the parched green of the sparse vegetation. Black and white it had to be, a grim reminder that somebody somehow bid eternal farewell here.
We all will bid goodbye at one time or another. But here, in the immense loneliness of this desert, biding farewell to this life has a double meaning. If you are here, you have already said bye-bye to plenty of things. But to make it this definite is simply an exaggeration, and it is too extreme a way of saying you have had enough.
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Updated 01-21-2020 at 04:32 AM by ponchi101



  1. GlennHarman's Avatar
    That is a totally fascinating photo!!! I enjoyed your discussion of how it might have come to be there. GH
  2. MediaGrrl's Avatar
    great photo