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Vision at dawn

Whenever I medidate, I visualize a short moment in my travels through Puno. In 1988, I was in Ayaviri and spent the night at IER Waqrani, a campesino training center started by the Ayaviri bishop. I woke up and went out to a wash basin to splash cold water on my face.

Marriage in the Andes Gabino Quispe/TAFOS Ayaviri

When I dried off my face, I looked up to see dawn sweep over the valley below us. The center was on a rise overlooking the broad valley -- the town was a checkerboard laid out next to the railroad track that ran from Puno to Cusco and the river that flowed down from the pass at La Raya on to Lake Titicaca. The mountains rose up on either side, like geometric forms, pure abstract in their dimensions.

In the Andes, at 4,000 meters above sea level, the light stripped the landscape clean, pristine of all extraneous details -- the small human forms, men or women, moving down the paths with their flocks, were as insignificant as the scrub grass against the domed sky, the stark mountains, the flowing river.

For that brief lapse, I saw clearly and purely. There was no meaning, no motive. I just saw.

A year later, Sendero burned IER Waqrani to the ground.