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La Pedrera; a journey within

An illuminated silence. That is the first thought that comes to my mind as I dig my toes in the 30 kilometer coast of La Pedrera; a Uruguayan beach where sand dunes are arranged and rearranged at the mercy of the wind. It’s a place where you could take a thousand pictures of the same landscape and they would all come out different. Where the corals, the soft pink shells, the sun and even the clouds; seem to be hand placed in the perfect spot.

I roam around for hours, letting the void diminish and overpower me at the same time. The day is particularly gray, which makes the scenery even more dramatic. A rusty ship’s skeleton is fixed to the ground like a hair barrette. Other than that, the barren shoreline extends indefinitely like the outline of a Chinese dragon. The pale color palette would make an impressionist painter jealous. It all makes me think of the setting of a minimalist dream.

The town of La Pedrera gracefully overlooks the beach. Set up on the top of a ridge, it seems like it anxiously waits for visitors. The curvy streets border fancy beach houses that camouflage with the clouds in the background. A grassy hill makes its way from the town to the sea. Its vibrant color seems to be a reminder of contradiction: not everything is pure or completely coherent.

A tiny golden crab running ahead of me makes the perfect escort. The damp tranquility wraps around my body and takes control over my thoughts. I begin to think that I can merge with the elements around me, as if I started becoming part of the setting. I feel my spirit soar in the immensity of my surroundings. I hold it tight like a kite so it won’t leave me.

Suddenly I notice a curled black object close to my feet. It takes me a moment to recognize it is a sea lion tangled in seaweed. My spirit dives back into my body as I stare in disbelief. Its eyes shine like wet olives and its patent leather skin is covered in sand. I shiver as I witness it win the battle. For a second, it seems to stare proudly at me, holding its violin-chord whiskers uptight. Then it turns around and is swallowed by a wave. I stare at the empty spot for a long time; it forms a still frame in the back of my mind.

I feel my legs pick up speed to measure up to the rhythm of my excited heart. I interrupt the ocean’s conversation with the shore, and let the water meet my feet. The sensation is inviting and my whole body collapses into the ocean. I let the emptiness fill me with joy. Every bit of this place seems to invite you in a journey within. Opening my eyes in the dark, I let the salt sting me; it makes me feel present.

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