There are some people for whom the purpose of travel can be one of necessity or duty, an inconvenience as much as an intrusion. A business meeting perhaps, or the annual Christmas pilgrimage. There are others for whom it can be the sole get out clause which allows them to endure the mundanity of their everyday lives. The knowledge that soon, for however long, they will be transported away from themselves to another existence. A place where the remnants of their day to day lives lie dormant and unheard until reawakened by the disheartening sound of a jet wheel skimming the tarmac.
For me, I took a journey that was simultaneously as mysterious as it was clear. I set off on a four month exploration of South America knowing that by the end of my journey I would, on a specific day, in a specific city and in a country I had never particularly thought I would visit, stand on a beach and fulfil a lifelong dream. A dream which belonged to another.
The photograph which accompanies this piece may seem to the casual observer a rather dismal shot of a vandalised wall. For me, however, it harbours within it a part of myself.
Throughout my life, my Father had spoken of his desire to visit Montevideo, Uruguay. In all the times he spoke of it, I still to this day do not know of his reason for wanting to go. For almost four months, within my passport, I carried a picture of his twenty year old self; his face at this age etched with the promise of all that life might have to offer him but chose not to give and I took him with me every step of the way.
I shared with him the majestic view of a fifteenth century Inca Ruin as the sun rose upon it. I waded with him, chest deep, through the fast running waters of an Amazonian river and carried him with me, deep into the heart of a Bolivian jungle. I stood with him in reflective silence as I breathed in the stillness of the expansive Salt Plains, a paradox of nothingness and everything all at once. Then on June 11th, 2006, I brought my Father to this place he had always dreamed of and buried him deep within its soul, deep within the sands of this beach. He had finally made it on what would have been his 69th birthday, two and a half years after his death.
Travel can mean many things to many different people. To me it proves that the experience itself can outlive the moment, even as this moment outlived the man himself. For if I go back to that beach, find that wall, turn and take nineteen steps down towards the ocean, I can always find him. For him – he will forever remain in his Dream.