Day 0

by Jeremy Bassetti

Dear subscribers,

Tomorrow is the big day! Tomorrow begins 30 Days in the Andes, the “pop-up” photo newsletter experiment that you subscribed to on my website.

As you know, each day I will send an email with a few photos. Today’s email is a long one, but rest assured that I won’t assault your inbox with an essay every day; you can expect to get just a few photos and maybe a little note. I’ll be keeping a lot of notes, but I won’t bog you down with them.

If you’re reading this sometime on August 1st, I’m somewhere in the air and en route to Bolivia. I am as nervous as I am excited to begin this adventure. I’m not sure what to expect. I’ve never been to South America, let alone to Bolivia or Peru. And while I have a general plan of where I’m going, my schedule is open-ended. I just need to turn up in Lima for my return-flight home on August 31.

You may be thinking: why are you doing this? Why are you traveling across the Andes. And why for 30 days?

I have been doing research for what I hope to be a book about mountains and the ways in which societies around the world think about them. My next stop is the Andes, and I want to take my time there because it is a big place. And, as I told a reporter for the New York Times back in 2020, I am planning on traveling longer, slower, and farther when I go on sabbatical. Now here we are.

In the middle of my Andean adventure, I’ll be walking with pilgrims and devotees of the Virgin of Urkupiña to a small city near Cochabamba where I hope to learn about the role of mountains and rocks for this syncretic Marian celebration. I will also be visiting with artists who are busy carving monolithic sculptures in the mountains of Peru, shamans who perform rituals and healing ceremonies in valleys and near peaks, miners and speculators who hope to strike it rich, and many other people who derive meaning from these mountains… if all goes according to plan.

But why an experimental “pop-up” photo newsletter if you’re writing a book?

The relationship between word and image is something that has long interested me. And I see this newsletter as a forcing-function for productivity. It is a way to remind me each day, “Hey, knucklehead. You’re here for a reason. You’re here for work. And you have a group of people who are expecting you to deliver.” In short, it is a way to keep me tethered to the idea that this isn’t a holiday.

And I’m not packing for a holiday either, as you can see in the image above. I’m not bringing a lot for 30 days; just what you see in the image, and a backpack to stuff it into. Packing light and being nimble is the name of the game.

Anyway, the main purpose of this email is to test the systems and to ensure that these emails are going out into the world as they should. If you’re getting them, good.

Just a few final reminders:

  • If you’re getting tired of these emails, it is okay to unsubscribe. But please don’t hit “report spam” as this may cause the emails to go to spam for other subscribers who want to continue getting them (hi, mom and dad).
  • Conversely, if they’re going into your spam folder, report them as not spam.
  • If the image above is not displaying automatically, please click on the option to “always display external images” or “load remote content” in your email app. See this link for more help.
  • And, finally, please help me spread the word by forwarding these emails to whomever you think will enjoy them. Or, if you know someone interested in travels, photography, or Latin America, please let them know about 30 Days in the Andes!

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