Our group of twenty-four walked through Antigua’s open-air market in the morning of one of two market days in the week, the market an active, crowded, buzzing place in which we bumped and jostled our way forward trying not to lose sight of each other as we wound our way from the market entrance on the market’s one side to city streets of central Antigua on the other. Colour was to be taken in, dark and bright, subdued in shadows, vibrantly woven into fabrics, glowing at times when lit by sunlight streaming through breaks in the market canopy. Faces, those of adults and children moved around us and past us traveling in the opposite direction through corridors created between vendor tables. Women balanced baskets on heads, a hand lightly steadying the basket and their purchases. Stay moving, keep moving, keep up with the group.
We gathered together near a fountain in Antigua’s central square, surrounded on two sides by what appeared to be hotels, shops on another and a Cathedral on the final side. We moved in and through this Cathedral which connects to another much older one, one that had suffered the devastation of earthquakes dismantling and bringing down huge pieces of architecture. The immensity of this older Cathedral is substantial, a place commanding reverence and sacramentality in size and depths and shape and ornamentation. The Cathedral had not one, but two crypts that could be entered, places where bodies of saints had rested.
From the Cathedral we traveled three blocks further and entered what would have been a convent; here, there was more an architectural sense of context than something yielding narrative of how its inhabitants used the building. The convent held an echo chamber, a round room below ground level that in shape mirrored that of an onion. In trying out the sound qualities, there was an aspect to the room where you needed to catch the resonance of sound produced in order to contribute to it – adding one’s voice to others, here, was and would have been an extraordinary experience. And, then there were the cells of nuns – all shaped in and out of stone.
Listening to – Cat Stevens’ ‘The Wind,’ ‘Rubylove,’ ‘If I Laugh’ and ‘Changes IV.’
Quotes to Inspire – (1) “The justification is still the same, that picture-taking serves a high purpose – uncovering a hidden truth, conserving a vanishing past.” (2) “The photographer both loots and preserves, denounces and consecrates … [the camera is] a way of taking possession of the places they (tourists) visited.” (3) “Life is not about significant details, illuminated (in) a flash, fixed forever. Photographs are.” – Susan Sontag, ‘On Photography.’
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Travel, thank you notes and other stories from Meg King-Sloan
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