Ciliado arrecife

Is there really something sinister about Santiago de Chuco, or am I merely too bourgeois to easily handle so many close encounters with the fourth world as I have been having lately? I could write a long narration about this expedition. Details would include:

* riding slowly through Quiruvilca, where Vallejo worked for a while to save money for college
* changing buses at Shorey
* the truly stunning Santiago countryside, the fact that you can see all the way to the Cordillera Blanca from some of the higher points, and the news that May is the month of flowers here
* the man on the bus, who believes in Christmas, May Day, and no other holidays, and who recommends we all read the Bible and Das Kapital
the fact that the Feast of Santiago was still going on when I got there, on what turned out to be exactly the 88th anniversary of the events leading to Vallejo’s arrest
* how much Santiago and its inhabitants remind me of some of the more desperate towns and populations I have seen in places like Nuevo León 
* how glad I was that I had thought of another town nearby to stay in
* how horrified I was at the hotel there, but how I changed my mind because people were so nice and the countryside was so beautiful
* how this hotel is so primitive that for the first time in my life I did not even ask what the room cost was before taking it, and as of this writing still do not know
* how big and fancy the Vallejo residence is, by any standards but especially by the standards of Santiago
* how interesting the house is, and what good energy it has
* how dark, dank, and filthy so much of Santiago is, and what strange, nervous-deathly energy it has, or appeared to me to have
* how jovial and outgoing everyone is
* that there is a tourist office which tells you the route of Vallejo’s favorite walk, so you can take it, and I did
* how I missed the afternoon bus home and how, very disappointed not to be out in the clean countryside, I was convinced not to wait for the 1 AM one and also somehow forgot that I could look for a room in Santiago
* how I therefore ended up staying with these people in their very tenebrosa house – tenebrosa because it was so fourth world, more than I can take
* how luxurious my hotel seemed when I finally got back to it
* how I gave the people I had stayed with the slip – I just could not take more
* how I feel strange about this because they are the ones who gave hospitality, and yet escape seemed, indeed still seems essential to survival – I am squeamish about having been inside the house, in its conditions, for so many hours, and although what they have to say is interesting, they do not ever stop talking
* how hard it is here, in general, to get any time alone or to think, because everyone is so social … and because like the Spaniards of whom they complain, they keep telling people what to do
* how the light is so dramatic, deep and clear, and the countryside is so beautiful, and again beautiful, and once again beautiful.

Trilce XLVII

Ciliado arrecife donde nací,
según refieren cronicones y pliegos
de labios familiares historiados
en segunda gracia.

      Ciliado archipiélago, te desislas a fondo,
                                  a fondo, archipiélago mío!
Duras todavía las articulaciones
al camino, como cuando nos instan,
y nosotros no cedemos por nada.

      Al ver los párpados cerrados,
implumes mayorcitos, devorando azules bombones,
se carcajean pericotes viejos.
Los párpados cerrados, correo si, cuando nacemos,
siempre no fuese tiempo todavía.

      Se va el altar, el cirio para
que no le pasase nada a mi madre,
y por mí que sería con los años, si Dios
quería, Obispo, Papa, Santo, o talvez
sólo un columnario dolor de cabeza.

      Y las manitas que se abarquillan
asiéndose de algo flotante,
a no querer quedarse.
Y siendo ya la 1.



Filed under News, Poetry, Theories

3 responses to “Ciliado arrecife

  1. The elements of a longer narrative that I hope you are able to write some day…
    Hospitality and beauty juxtaposed with miseria infrahumana e histórica? I don’t think you need to judge yourself for having a visceral reaction to that, or for seeking out spaces of privacy when traveling alone.
    I looked up ciliado to be sure it meant what I thought it did, and it does. I’m going to be saying that phrase all day: “Ciliado arrecife donde nací”

  2. Z

    So I looked it up, too. The antiporn software wouldn´t let me see an English equivalent but it did let me into the DRAE. In the Vallejo house they have all his school transcripts and it is amazing how many subjects he took, how high his grades were, and how many prizes he won. This is how he got that vocabulary, I am guessing.

    I checked with some other people about the sinister feel of Santiago de Chuco. They said oh yes, it is awful, and it is the seat of the worst and most stunted province in all of La Libertad. People there are filled with mistrust and envy, and they have no culture. They kill each other and then their families bribe the authorities to let them out of jail. That is why they persecuted Vallejo, and why he had to leave, they said. I say it is why his poetry is so haunted.

    Now I am back in booming Huamachuco so I know what the hotel bill was: $14 a night for its best room. This one was large, had a window and an old television, a toilet, and your very own deep bathtub that the hot water from the mineral spring comes right into. That was why it was so expensive – there are other rooms without these bathtubs, so that you have to use the common ones and pay extra for that. I also ate four meals at this hotel, which cost, as it turns out, $3 each – also slightly high, but not very. There is, however, only one washbasin for the entire hotel, so you have to wait in line to brush your teeth. This hotel does not offer towels, toilet paper or soap, but it does offer clean sheets, so it is not at the bottom of the Peruvian hotel heap, and people are VERY nice there … it also has a wonderful view from the veranda.

    The feast of Santiago looks a lot like a country Mardi Gras in Louisiana. I was not prepared for all of this humor, but it was very amazing. There are all sorts of different dances, each one corresponding to a krewe which represents a character … indios, negros, turcos, etc., or a locality, and there were some men in skirts. No matter what, though, every participant has a replica of the sword of Santiago.

  3. Z

    Huamachuco, which seemed like an off the beaten track adventure when I first came, now seems urban, commercial, safe, even bland (although of course it is not).

    More on my bourgeois tastes – I do not like these colonial style buildings unless they are seignorial.
    Smaller ones only have the door as the window and they are fetid and close, especially if the adobe inside is unfinished.

    One is supposed to want an adobe in a fertile valley, but I think a solar powered Frank Lloyd Wright house up on the puna would be, and also look very nice.

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