...except for me and my monkey! "Everything we see hides another thing. We always want to see what is hidden by what we see." -Rene Magritte

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano

Perú is incredible. It´s so different from Chile--and not to say that Chile isn´t incredible, because it is, but maybe all boring countries are boring in the same way and all incredible countries are incredible in their own unique ways. (Apologies to Tolstoy.) In Cusco, you see indigenous women walking around in their beautiful native dress, with their pantyhose and many-layered knee-length skirts and knit cardigans and bowler hats; ancient Inca walls around every corner; adobe red-brick tiled houses lining the streets and reaching up into the brown hills. Yesterday Jon and I went to Lago Titicaca, on the Peru-Bolivian border, to visit the floating, artificially constructed islands of the Uros peoples and the island of Taquile, which is inhabited by Aymará and Quechua indigenous people. It was indescribably beautiful. Lago Titicaca is the highest navagable (is that a word in English?) lake in the world, and the altitude--almost 4000 meters--almost did me in. To get to the town center of Taquile, you have to climb about an hour up a pretty unforgiving stone path, and the combination of altitute sickness and the sketchy scrambled eggs I had for breakfast made me throw up several times. But, I made it and I was so glad I did.

We went to Machu Picchu the day before yesterday, and it was incredible. It was difficult--it took about 75% of my physical strength, probably (it was steep, but I could have done it with no problem at a lower altitude)--but so worth it. After taking the tour around, Jon and I explored on our own for an hour or so. We found a secluded spot and--corny as it sounds--read aloud to each other from Pablo Neruda´s Las alturas de Machu Picchu, a book of twelve cantos, or poems, about the poet´s reaction to the Inca citadel and his call for the rebirth of the Latin American people. Here, Canto XII:

Sube a nacer conmigo, hermano.
Dame la mano desde la profunda zona de tu dolor diseminado.

No volverás del fondo de las rocas.
No volverás del tiempo subterráneo.
No volverá tu voz endurecida.
No volverán tus ojos taladrados.
Mírame desde el fondo de la tierra,
labrador, tejedor, pastor callado: domador de guanacos tutelares:
albañil del andamio desafiado:
aguador de las lágrimas andinas:
joyero de los dedos machacados:
agricultor temblando en la semilla:
alfarero en tu greda derramado:
traed a la copa de esta nueva vida
vuestros viejos dolores enterrados.
Mostradme vuestra sangre y vuestro surco,
decidme: aquí fui castigado,
porque la joya no brilló o la tierrano entregó a tiempo la piedra o el grano:
señaladme la piedra en que caísteisy la madera en que os crucificaron,
encendedme los viejos pedernales,
las viejas lámparas, los látigos pegadosa través de los siglos en las llagas
y las hachas de brillo ensangrentado.
Yo vengo a hablar por vuestra boca muerta.
A través de la tierra juntad todoslos silenciosos labios derramados
y desde el fondo habladme toda esta larga noche
como si yo estuviera con vosotros anclado,
contadme todo, cadena a cadena,
eslabón a eslabón, y paso a paso,
afilad los cuchillos que guardasteis,
ponedlos en mi pecho y en mi mano,
como un río de rayos amarillos,
como un río de tigres enterrados,
y dejadme llorar, horas, días, años,
edades ciegas, siglos estelares.

Dadme el silencio, el agua, la esperanza.

Dadme la lucha, el hierro, los volcanes.

Apegadme los cuerpos como imanes.

Acudid a mis venas y a mi boca.

Hablad por mis palabras y mi sangre.