Nostalgia in South America


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Street Vendor

Quito, Ecuador

1/400s @ f/4 ISO 100 @ 70mm 

Sometimes you have to leave home to find home. I left the States in early 2012, just about four years ago. Since arriving in Latin America I have commented frequently that it is often like a throwback in time. So much of what I see harkens back to my youth, to simpler and happier times. That’s nostalgia, remembering the good with fondness and forgetting the bad. I was born in 1947 and spent my “formative years” in the 1950s.

Post World War II:  Eisenhower, prosperity, suburbia and innocence. As I age I increasingly fall victim to the “Old Man Disease” of nostalgia, looking back on better times (part myth and part reality). This Norman Rockwell street scene in Quito, Ecuador is a case in point, and immediately transports me back to the 1950s when various vendors plied the neighbourhoods:  ice-cream trucks, home milk delivery and fresh-baked goods.

The world is moving fast, even in South America. My youth left me many years ago except for my memories. The 1950s are seen through the rose-colored glasses of childhood; I’m sure my parents would have a different perspective if they were still living. I hear young adults talking today about the old days in the 1980s as being the good times and I chuckle. For me the 1980s were a nightmare, and have no redeeming value whatsoever.

We are products of our age I suppose. If I could live one year over and over again it would be 1957, I was ten years old:  Ed Sullivan, The Wonderful World of Disney, Davey Crockett, the Pluto Platter (later to become the Frisbee), Car-hops, ice-cream trucks, jelly donuts and the 57 Chevy. Looking back it seems like paradise. I don’t remember the racism (overt and covert), the anti-Semitism or the Korean War. I barely remember polio and young girls dying of backstreet abortions.

Today I try to stay current and relevant. With each year that passes that becomes more difficult:  cellphones, computers, social media, a lack of civility, divisive politics, the disintegration of the nuclear family and crushing humanity all conspire to take the simplicity (and innocence) out of life. Guess I’m just getting too old. Traveling helps. I am forced to keep my wits about me. And viewing scenes like the Street Vendor helps.

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Stephen F. Dennstedt

Photographer, Writer and World Traveler

Lima, Peru


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