By Robert Bradley
I have long held that serendipity and Cuenca are well-traveled companions. So, it was no surprise to me as I walked through Parque Calderon on Monday morning, to run into an acquaintance just as I was thinking about stopping for cafe con leche.
She was busy ridding herself of a guy anxious to continue his New Year’s Eve party from the evening before. When she saw me she rolled her eyes, indicating her pursuer, and insisted, “Well! It’s about time you showed up! I thought you were taking me out for coffee!” I was already scanning the bordering cafes.
It had all the makings of a very good day.
I cannot think of a better definition of, “auspicious beginning to the new year,” than a chance encounter that becomes a thoughtful and stimulating conversation lasting nearly four hours. As we chatted, we rewarded ourselves with coffee, ice cream, and watching people outdoors who were themselves being rewarded with the softest caresses of a light drizzle: the spirits of chinchilla, mink, and baby alpaca, their gauzy presence confused as mist, gently petting cheeks as they passed…
My new friend is a good storyteller. Her tales of tales written, and yet to be, are stories unto themselves and got us both to wonder on the many hidden treasures; the slow-spoken reminiscences and recollections, perhaps unknown at the time, that guided so many others to this place, to be right here, right now.
We agreed that the stories our neighbors cradle are as vast as Saskatchewan.
I would like to know these stories. I’d like to hear about how you became my neighbor, even if you are separated merely by thousands of miles. Mention your dreams. Share a secret. Toss up a patch of the wisdom you tended through good times and drought.
I’m confident that as you write your story, you will discover memories flooding your way and calling out to you even if you do not remember their names. Draw them close and listen carefully as they dock, for they will become the keel of the tender that will support you, revealing dreams anchored, near-discoveries of your true self.
I do not know your stories, but I know they are vast and expressive and essential.
I certainly enjoy sharing my stories with you. I have taken more photographs during my eight months in Cuenca than in, well… forever, and I never penned a blog, column, or newsletter prior to making my home here. I had never even given it a moment’s thought. But, boy, I sure do now; I think about photography and telling stories every day. I do because I found the time here to fall in love — with photography, with Cuenca, and writing to you.
I have a gentle suggestion for the new year:
Begin a journal, start writing your story — to be printed or to be preserved for another time. You may think it is impossible, or too difficult, but it is not.
It is simple.
You need only to quiet yourself, take a deep breath, and allow your identity to become revealed.