Neil Coppen

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Peru (part 1) Pageant of the Bizaare

December16

Funny morning, stepped out of my hostel room only to be nearly trampled by two deranged llamas bolting down the cobbled streets, one frisky for a little Sunday loving I’m sure. They are peculiar, tragic looking creatures, cross breads between the oddest star wars creature and cutesy early morning toddlers TV show host.

It is pouring where I am, everytime I try to take a stroll to view some of the famed outlying ruins, down it comes. There is an advantage in that rain supposedly means less tourists, hence off season ( though there are still enough here in Cuzco to fill Disneyland ten times over). I understand why the rain might perturb the masses for it is hardly little drizzle but rather torrential walloping, balls to the wall bucketing, which makes me a little unprepared for the four day trek ahead to the heights of Machu Picchu. I am eschewing the trampled but legendary Inca trail, for its exorbitant costs and muchos populous of gringo, and taking a trail, cheaper and quieter (though apparently as beautiful.)

To be honest the whole Machu Picchu thing has given me a knot in my stomach and cramp in my wallet. Of course its majestic and of such fame for a reason but it also means the yobos and touts, the whinging poms, dope pests (mi amigo, mi amigo), hiked prices and petty thefts. The Gringo trail I have mostly treaded since Chile is often like this- all sights of importance, of wonder but a hustle and bustle nevertheless. Familiar faces as hard as one tries to escape seem to revisit along the way (Americans, their current state of nationalist insecurity -the worst) . Thus it can feel like travelling in a big unintentional pack. They are nice people but not the type I would relinquish my solitude for, forge friendships with a significant future in mind (that is excluding my French brother Marc- who I hitch hiked with for some time around the mountains of Northern Argentina.) On saying this I do not make an extended effort to meet people (there are of course gems out there)- I am here for an essence and theirs remains too similar to my own- spoilt first world fodder hungry for third world wonder.

After I finish with Cuzco and the ruins, I will be stepping off the trail, heading through the North of Peru, to where it all gets a little grittier, I am contemplating spending a few hallucagenic filled nights with the IncanBuenos Aries, reinvented my understanding and perception of the city. How exciting to think what Marquez might do in his home town. healers in some distant mountain range, figure it might be a fitting way to see, or distort? the new year in. You know take a peep into the extended yawn of my suburban sub conscious. Three months makes things tight, especially considering my hearts desire is with Columbia and thus far there has been a entire continent between us. I long for nothing more then to seek out some one horse town, with rocking chair, preferably wobbly fan stirring a thick stew of equatorial heat. To drink beer in the sun and read the ten Marquez novels (that I lug about in my Alexandria Library of a back pack). Literature of the region so much more valuable then paint by numbers, bray like sheep guide books- bibles we tend to abide all too slavishly by. The Argentine writer Borges, in the small amount I read in

I’m reading voraciously, Theroux´s -Mosquito Coast to which I have only come to now, is a cracking read, great for passing hours on arduous buses. Dante’s Inferno- delicious, timeless, torturous and pretty god damn terrifying. Dickens ´Hard Times´ universal to any city one might visit in the world. Jonathan Swifts ´Tale of the Tub´- affirming himself as the funniest, bleakest and most brilliant satirist there is- again the bulls eye to his barb-Religion (which seems to be the recurring thread to my education here). It is easy to feel lonely, but then I remember my purpose, the wisdom held in these novels, the people of importance, back home, the road ahead

I was really low the other night, lurking the shady streets of Puno, thinking those Gringos were right when they warned me of it being a non event of a town. Then a firework, a rocket exploded inches from my face, then another and another. Kerouac says pop and the world goes AWWWWWWW - and so it did, before a 60 piece marching bad struck up their triumphant tune. At the front came the Virgin Mary born on the shoulders of panting worshippers then the town mayor pursued by troupe of sycophants. A pack of blue Incan looking demons with protruding tongues, a gang of Boys in oversized Gorilla Suits, Behind them, girls and women in brightly coloured skirts, twisting from one side to the next, whirling like sequenced spinning tops. Then another marching band, more dancers, confetti and fireworks. So it went on and on, blazing up the night and I grew tearful at its sight, its sound,this pageant of the bizarre.

Nothing unites the world, elates the spirit quite like a parade. Pity the gutters, beggars and cripples submerged beneath that tide of euphoria. All reality, momentarily buoyed away and streets where minutes ago were hurried and harrowed are at once swept with jubilation.

I felt elated, levitating, I danced with the crowds, to that insistent beat. A delirious fool, desperate for it to never end, following the spectacle from one Plaza to the next until I could no more. Till I had to bid it farewell, let it pass, round its final corner and die as a distant summer storm might out over the Durban sea.

The rain has subsided, Outside the cobbled streets of Cusco have been washed clean . Ruins i should think fit for a little exploration

One Comment to

“Peru (part 1) Pageant of the Bizaare”

  1. On December 27th, 2007 at 11:35 am Gregg Says:

    Really cool piece… love this line
    “spoilt first world fodder hungry for third world wonder”

    Enjoy the trekking..

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