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.
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.