Soundscape in the Desert

It’s almost noon. We were about 40 minutes outside the Naszca Lines. I questioned to myself why we would stop at this time of the day in the middle of a dessert. The Chesapeake Semester got off the bus, and made their way in 8 different directions through the baron desert. Once I found the ideal spot for my soundscape, I moved a rock and sat down on the sand underneath of it, which was still painfully hot. Heat waves made the mountains in the distance appear to be dancing and swaying. There were rocks in every color placed in patterns on the sand.

The first few sounds I experienced were vehicles and the wind. I could feel the wind blowing across the desert, the sand, me. The vehicles came in waves and you could hear them very quietly from a distance, get louder as they came closer and fade out into the sounds of the wind. There was almost a lack of sound as I tried to find some other noise. I had to try to find a sound other than the wind. Nothing. At first I thought this was peaceful. But this lack of noise became ominous. I began to feel lonesome and lost, and my mind began to wander.

Here I sat in a desert of Peru, letting the sand slip between my fingers. My time, my fifteen minutes, spent sitting on this sand, was only a snap shot in the past, present, and future of this place. who was here before me? Who will be here after me? Has anyone touched the sand I’ve touched, held the rock I’ve held? The Inca’s believed in many gods and spirits. Everything had a meaning. As I sat observing the rocks around me and taking in the silence, I pondered the spirits of the rocks, pacha mama (mother earth), and inti (the sun god). Feeling more spiritually overwhelmed at this point in my soundscape, our time was over. Fifteen minutes passed rather quickly when you let go, listen, and think. As we all walked back towards the bus, I silently hoped that I would continue to feel connected to this foreign land, culture, and experiences that awaited us.

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