Eduardo Strauch is the author of the memoir Out of the Silence: After the Crash, which focuses on his experience of surviving a 1972 plane crash in the Andes. He is an architect and painter, and he lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.
Q: Why did you decide to write this memoir so many years after your experiences in the 1972 plane crash?
A: Out of the Silence is the English version of the book Desde el Silencio, which was published in 2012 in Uruguay, my home country, and also in Spain, in which I re-live my experience with new eyes, the perspective attained in the decades since. I felt I had the need to convey and to share so many things I have learned from that time on the mountain.
It was clearly important to my own identity as well as the legacy I wanted to leave behind. I am fully aware that it was a two-year process that culminated in a self-therapy. I never required the assistance of professionals; however, writing has represented a very positive catharsis 40 years later.
Q: How do you think your experiences in 1972 changed your life?
A: I believe that the Andes experience did not change my real essence. Notwithstanding, it enriched every aspect in my life. This is what I have come to understand: Nothing is certain, but anything is possible.
As soon as we learned that the search had been called off, the idea of getting out of the mountains by means of our own efforts arose as our only hope, and we managed to survive for 72 days. Releasing the human capacities, mental, physical and emotional was the key element. It was the opportunity for true awareness of that reality. I saw clearly for myself the big and real things of this world.
Knowing the priorities helps us to have a full and happy life.
Q: Did you need to do additional research to write the book, or was it all from your memories of the crash and its aftermath?
A: After searching for someone who could help me express my thoughts and feelings , I found a professional writer, Mireya Soriano, who already knew the story well, and we found that we were in perfect harmony. This allowed a close collaboration between us, examining my intense experiences through many different lenses. She helped me during the whole process, allowing me to conclude with reflections by posing a number of questions.
I did not need to do additional research. I just went deep into my mind, diving into my memories, contrasting my life before and after the accident.
Q: What do you hope people take away from the book?
A: The story of the accident and the events which followed are woven throughout 15 chapters. The ordeal of the past is transformed in the telling into a shared and universal knowledge applicable to any life situation. In this way, this book preserves the story’s development and appeals to the inner world of each reader, promoting a space for reflection.
I hope the reader will be able to look at the story and take away the central place human values have, and find an approach for overcoming difficulties and adversity. Since the book shows the incredible things achievable by the human spirit, it also may provide people a look at society and the human capacity to organize under the worst circumstances.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: For almost 50 years I have been dedicated to architecture, and I still am. I frequently travel to different parts of the world giving conferences to share my experience. I also paint, inspired by the singular experience that touched my life and the landscapes that touch me during my trips.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: The book was ready to be published. That’s when I was really afraid thinking that I had opened my heart and exposed my feelings. Too late to regret. I started to receive very positive and favorable comments by the readers at last! Hence, the desired results of overflowing with the joy of sharing my life with others.
It was only natural that people started to ask me if I would write a second book. “So far there are no plans” seems to be my natural reply.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb