Memento: Mark Rammers

No matter where we travel to, there are things we take with us—or things we bring home to remember a place. That’s the purpose of this series: to learn about the #LojelCollective’s favorite items or keepsakes, and the stories behind them.

I’ve always felt that maps are more than useful guides—they are works of art. Each is designed to be informational and beautiful, with carefully selected details that depict urban areas, landscapes, and points of interest.

I picked this map up on the San Telmo market in Buenos Aires. It's not dated, but the train tracks on the bottom of the map have since been transformed into a residential area and promenade.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

Jaén, Spain: The smallest roads on a map often lead to the most surprising places, like this beautiful grassland near Jaén, Spain.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

A selection of the maps I’ve collected. I don’t like to write in mine, so I refer to them to plan my routes and then use online apps to guide me. I envy the people that are less particular about conserving them.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

When I was young, I spent many hours looking at atlases, tracing the contours of distant countries with my pencil, meticulously copying names of cities, rivers, and mountaintops. Now, I have the opportunity to visit these places in real life. And when I do, I always try to bring a map home with me, preferably an antique one.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia: On the Altiplano, maps don’t tell you where to go, the tracks left by previous drivers do.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

“The Golden Atlas” is a beautiful chronicle of the world, told through cartography.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

I like to reflect on what a place used to look like and how it has changed over the years, and oftentimes find myself wishing I was born in another era so I could get a better understanding of how the world was once explored, without GPS or Google Maps. Each map reminds me of how little we once knew, when people first started traversing the planet and venturing into the unknown; when parts of the world were still a mystery.

Maps are one of the few items that travelers can use to navigate a new destination, collect as a memento, and inspire their next journey. When one is spread out on a table, I immediately think, “Where should I go? How can I get there? What will I experience along the way?”

Paso de San Francisco, Argentina: A map doesn’t give you all the information about a place—something my friends and I learned while trying to drive from Argentina to Chile. We couldn’t cross the border because of our rental car permits.

photo by Mark Rammers / @markrammers

Written by: Mark Rammers