All is dull when there is no contrast / Sin contrastes, todo es aburrido

Street vendor, Parque Los Caobos, Caracas, Venezuela (October, 1991)

(English version follows below). El viajero norteamericano o europeo que aterriza por vez primera en los trópicos, se verá envuelto en un mundo inédito de colores.  Esa franja de tierra entre Cáncer y Capricornio tiene la cualidad de despertar el sentido de la visión. En su mente aún lleva el norteño los paisajes apagados y la vegetación rala del lugar de residencia. Apenas arriba al trópico, aquello se le viene encima: el verdor apabullante de una montaña, los árboles frondosos regados por doquier, la luz vertical de un sol que todo lo inunda, la vestimenta ligera y variopinta, los vegetales y frutas de matices atrevidos.

Por su parte, el viajero tropical que llega al Norte probablemente sufrirá decepciones y depresiones. En comparación con quien atraviesa meridianos, el viajero que cruza latitudes está expuesto a los contrastes mayores y las mayores sorpresas. Usando un argumento similar puede decirse que hasta las más grandes maravillas del mundo son sonsas cuando no hay una referencia de fondo para diferenciar*


The North American or European traveler who for the first time arrives in the tropics, will experience an unprecedented world of colors. The geography that lies in-between the Latitudes of Cancer and Capricorn wakes up our visual senses. Fresh in her mind, the Northerner still has the subdue landscapes and the rarefied vegetation of her place of residence. As soon as she lands in the tropics, she will be hit by the overwhelming greenery of a hill, the ubiquitous and luxuriant trees, the vertical sunshine that floods every corner, the light and multicolored outfits, the vegetables and fruits with the boldest hues.

On the other hand, those tropical travelers that first arrive in the north are likely to experience deception and turned into a depressive state. Compared to those who moves East or West, the traveler who crosses latitudes is likely to be exposed to the sharpest contrasts. Using a parallel argument it can be said that even the greatest world wonders become dull and meaningless when there is no background of reference to compare against *


  1. What an observant post. What is particularly true for me is that “vertical sunshine that floods every corner”–well put. My first trip back to the tropics where I was born (after growing up in Canada) was such a rich, visual experience. The colours that made their mark in the incessant sunlight were the deep chocolate browns of tilled soil, the lush green of tropical ferns, and the silky whites of cresting waves.


    1. A truly accurate description in words of tropical colors! Thank you! Since I grew up in the tropics, I was unaware for years of how the world looks like beyond the tropics: that came as a “discovery” later on. Of course, there is beauty to be found in the more restrained color palettes of the north. Appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 1 person

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