A dune with a view

Three Jesuit volunteers hike up a dune with a giant crossed marked by stones. One volunteer stands in the foreground looking down at her feet.

When I dream of Tacna there is dirt and dust

and our little cement house on the edge of nowhere,

its bright cerulean blue a beacon on our street when I return home late at night.

I dream of dust on my window pain, as I look out in the mornings

and see the deep blue of our patio walls,

mismatched chairs scattered about, collected over many years.

A fine layer of dry dust covers everything here, 

so different from where I grew up:

a coast that battled damp and mildew and mold each and every day,

a fine layer of mist settling onto my head and shoulders as I walked out the door each morning.

If you were to ask me to pick a color for Tacna, the first word out of my mouth would be 


It’s a light, yellowish brown,

the brown of sandy dirt where nothing much grows.

I could also tell you grey,

the grey of cement and concrete,

the grey of houses and streets and cars and buses.

These are the colors I live and breathe as I move about the city.

But standing above Tacna, on the top of a dune,

I would tell you that this city is not just one color,

it is not the color of dust,

it is not a color without life.

This city is green,

the green of olive trees 

and little plots of farmland.

It is a myriad of blues 

as the hot sun beats down from the sky.

A photo of the city of Tacna taken from the top of the dunes. The photo reveals a patchwork of farms, trees, but mostly desert.

Tacna is filled with dirt and dust,

but there are things growing and breathing too.

It is a vivid patchwork of greens and browns

and I cannot take my eyes away from it.

From the top of the dunes I can spot the little world I call my own:


It is one small square in a giant, breathtaking landscape.

This city is huge.

Its expanse reaches out as far as the eye can see.

I am suddenly reminded of my size, my insignificance.

I am a speck in a teeming city of three hundred thousand. 

This city is beautiful.

Faith, Maggie, Cat and I pose at the top of the stone cross on the dune, crouching down.

It is alive.

They call it Tacna,

and it is my home.

Originally published at www.jvcwithcamila.blogspot.com

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