art is a war 17

Santa Marta was going to be my next stop and though I’d been there fourteen years earlier, could remember nothing about the place.  I wasn’t even sure why I wanted to go there, but had to go somewhere.  I saw on Google that there was a small bus station that serviced Santa Marta, not far from the hostel, so decided to walk over and check on prices and times.

It had rained hard the night before.  The big thunderstorms only added to the excitement of being in Colombia.  Almost every afternoon dark clouds would roll in and the thunder would begin to rumble.  Lightning would sometimes flash, and when that happened the thunder would just explode, shaking the earth to its core and almost causing my heart to stop.  That’s what I needed, electro-shock therapy with none of the cost or complications.  As long as it was storming, I was fine.  When it stopped, however, the thoughts would begin to creep back into my head, and that was never good.

Some of the streets were flooded, with trash floating on the brown water, as I made my way to Calle 47, and crossed a bridge to get to the station.  The boy working security guard told me that there were buses leaving to Santa Marta every twenty minutes, and that it would be no problem to just show up and buy a ticket.  Continuing north from there, it was just a few blocks to the Caribbean Sea.  There was a barrier of rocks between the street and the beach, and the ocean was flat, with waves not more than a few inches high.  On one section there were some red and yellow umbrellas and tables set up.

It was possible to follow the coastline back to the historic center.  I reached the walls, which surround and define the old city, and entered at the rear.  The walls, commissioned in the 17th century, and designed to keep pirates out, seemed to be an extension of the fort, with the same tunnels and sentry boxes.  A group of teenage girls practiced a dance routine on one of the walls, as a man, perhaps their coach, shouted out directions.

I visited the Santuario de San Pedro Claver, the patron saint of slaves, and then made my way back to the Catedral de Santa Catalina de Alejandra, where I’d left off my exploring two days earlier.  I made it a point to avoid the women in the African dresses, now knowing how sensitive they were to cameras being aimed in their direction.  An old one got my attention with her good-natured persistence, however, so I agreed to pay for a picture of her, in her red, green, and yellow dress, a silver bowl with bananas, mangos, and pineapples, balanced on her head. 

When I went to review the picture, I found the camera had added a time stamp, not only on that picture, but on all the pictures I’d taken that morning.  What was the reason for that?  I certainly hadn’t asked it to.  I managed to find the time stamp option in the settings and turn it off, but it was clear now that the phone was wigging out.  It was trying to complete an update, but with no internet service, could only spin and spin.  A page for the weather channel kept popping up with the current forecast for Manila.  All the pictures I’d taken up to that point were ruined.

When I got back to the hostel, it was like the bug had now jumped to my laptop.  The thumbnails for every picture in the pictures folder had crashed, leaving only row after row of the windows photo icon.  That meant I now had to go through every picture individually in the photo viewer to see what they were.  It was beyond a hassle, considering the whole purpose of the trip was to match pictures to words.  Welcome to the life of an independent artist.

As an independent artist, you never have the resources or support to compete with what the top commercial artists are putting out there.  All the money you manage to raise for a project is what they might spend for an hour in the studio, just tuning up their instruments.  If something breaks down, there is no one to turn to.  You bear all of the burden.  Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.  Then, when it finally comes time to share your finished work with others, you arrive at another level of letdown.  The CD doesn’t play.  The link to your website doesn’t go through.  Or maybe they do work, but now the recording sounds nothing like it did when it was cranking out of the studio monitors.  There are a million ways to fail.

There was never a time in my life that I dreamed about selling out arenas or winning awards for what I do, but when things are always breaking down and no one cares about what you do, it’s easy to feel cursed.  I spent the rest of the day researching ways to restore the thumbnails to the picture folder, and never found a solution, so started going through them, one by one, and realized that most of them were terrible. 

At that point, it was time to turn off the light.  Maybe things would be better in the morning, but to keep pushing now, would only make them worse.

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