Friday, 27 November 2009

Through where the Incas wander

When I wake up my mouth is as dry as if I had been chewing newspaper the whole night. The bus glasses are moist out of the humidity produced by 40 bodies breathing and snoring the whole night. Together with my also moist eyes, the bus glasses barely let me see through to the street where the still dark walls are slowly waking up with the rest of the city. I’m not even sure about where I am, it could be Cuzco or Beijing, it all looks the same after a night of light sleep woken up suddenly by an undesired and scarce breakfast. We arrive and I walk out the bus station. The backpack’s weight is trebled by the altitude, but each of my steps, already used to the height by many weeks lived with my hands touching the clouds, is slow and steady. After all there’s no rush. Walking up to the centre without still realising where I am, I suddenly bump for the first time into the perfectly aligned puzzle of a smoothly flattened and asymmetrically symmetrical Inca wall. I look at it amazed and amaze myself when I see that on top of this wall there is a church, one more church out of the many my Spanish neighbours planted here as they passed by. While I rub my eyes to check if I’m well awake a sudden ‘Didn’t they have anywhere else to build a church’ slips out of my mouth, but I instantly fall into my senses and remember this is no more than the need to demonstrate subjugation, in order to complete the destruction of an entire civilization in the name of pure greed for the silver and gold of these lands. I walk a bit further up and see more of the same, whole buildings, complete streets of aligned rocks that are used as foundations for many other buildings that do not belong here despite being stupidly beautiful. I walk up a long and narrow alley and feel myself go back in time while starting to see Incas walking by. These are people other than those who walk here now and who I can’t even imagine because for each step I take looking at the pavement one other is taken looking in front, and the buildings above do not let me go back in time for more than brief instants, short seconds of an inability to imagine other times that passed by too fast while the invader buried centuries of misunderstood evolution under rocks, buildings erected in the name of a greed masked as faith and that God himself knocked down once and again in successive earthquakes, which invariably left standing only the rocks underneath, the only ones that should be here. I move on, while thinking as a Portuguese that we did the same, maybe in a different way and in a different place, but basically the same and I feel bad about it. I zigzag in between the tourists and sellers, walk up and down streets, go in and out churches, cross looks with people who welcomes and distrusts me at once, take a couple of photos and, in spite of being in one of the most beautiful cities I’ve seen during this journey, I think to myself: ‘Enough!’. I’m wandering the imperial Cuzco, through where the Incas still wander in the shadow of their own rocks, and it hurts it has to be like this.

Cuzco, Peru, August 2009

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

In Arequipa

I’m wandering. Once more I wander the white volcanic rock streets that make this beautiful city, one glued to the other, an endless amount of streets. House after house, church after church, one street crossing leads to the next and I feel as if I am wandering a labyrinth made of straight streets with perfect exists that I cannot reach. I run fast but I can’t reach them, although step after step I see them all at an arm-reach distance. I fell like the city does not want to let me go away, but maybe it’s just me who does not want to go, maybe it’s just me realizing I’ll never leave this place again, this city where I lived some of the most beautiful moments of this journey. Stopping in the main square I see in the background the black volcano that decorates one of the square’s corners, my corner, where I spent many minutes turned into days, always hearing a music that despite being repetitive never got me tired while I waited for a look, the look of your eyes that will have me bound to this place forever. I look at the volcano and wish he can spit out what this other volcano inside me cannot, but the dark mountain invariably stares at me inert, inhospitable, black. I run very fast but the ground seems to escape under my feet and I stumble and fall. I get back on my feet and stumble again, but I keep getting back on my feet one time after the other. I want to reach my corner of the square, but each rock on the ground seems to lift to prevent me from getting there. I fall one last time, when I’m already reaching the middle of the square, and my head bangs heavily against the hard pavement making me lose my senses while I feel my body starting to float in the air. When up high in the sky I start hearing a music in the distance, which is not the same monotonous music I’ve always listened to. It’s just the beat of my heart that saw yours and started to sing like this:

“Llego por la calle que dibuja el corazón,
Entro por la puerta de un mundo de pasión,
Abro la sonrisa al encontrar el callejón,
Donde estás parada escuchando mi canción.

Siento dentro mí una suave explosión,
Como un dulce trueno que me aplasta el corazón,
Veo en tu mirada la belleza de un marrón
Que no existe, es tan lindo, debe ser una ilusión.

Quiero ya besarte y no sé cómo es posible
Que me sienta así, recién te veo, es increíble
Pero no hay control eres un sueño que yo vivo
Aquí en vivo y que lindo, no quiero más despertar.

Eres la hermosura que encontré en mi camino
Eres una magia que me llena de cariño,
Eres dulce amor una sonrisa que me atrapa
Desde que te encontré.

En Arequipa, encontré el calor de una mirada,
La sonrisa de una chica enamorada,
En sus labios la dulzura que me llena el corazón.

Ciudad bonita, donde me crucé con la más linda nena,
Que me abraza con su suave piel morena,
Despertando con su ser dentro de mí la gran pasión,

My lips sing this music dictated by each beat of my heart, but it’s not enough, they’re not enough. I see your eyes look at mine one last time, giving me a fleeting glance that both hugs me and tells me to go. I wander once more, but the white of these streets is not the same and the black tar of the pavement ends up pointing the way once more. I wander, once more, but I know I found my way and it points in the opposite direction of the one the road draws in the distant horizon.

Arequipa, Peru, August 2009

The Sun's birthplace

I breathe in. The rare oxygen is rapidly absorbed by every tired cell of my body, each of them invariably panting after the many uphill and downhill slopes walked under the scorching sun of this island that shares its name with this heavenly body. This is the same place the Incas believed to be their supreme sun-god’s birthplace. Sitting on top of the hill that tops the island I look around at the famous lake Titicaca, embedded in the foothills of the even taller mountains that surround it and fit it in between the rocks and the sky, making this lake more of a mirror of what surrounds it and of the World. I close my eyes and feel like a little giant sitting on the World’s peak. I imagine my legs long enough to reach the shore with a small jump, as if I was seated in a little rock inside a puddle. I feel my arms long enough to reach the boats that sail this lake, as if I was just a child playing with them in a random Summer afternoon. I stand up and manage to touch the sky, blow around the few clouds on it, burn my fingertips when I touch this little star that lights my way and burns my skin. Opening my eyes and feeling the sun burning the back of my head, I realize while looking around why the Incas knew this place was the Sun’s birthplace. I breathe out, it’s time to move on.

Island of the Sun - Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, August 2009