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Peru

Photo by Dan Schwartz

Ill Nature

When the glacier finally melted, the last of the green turned yellow and brown and the dry season came like an omen. Its white-blue ice had given water to all thirteen communities of Quispillaccta in Peru and, to women and men wise enough to receive them, messages: Plant here; plant that.

Mother of God, Child of Zeus

I want to lie like the street dogs do, bare stomach skyward, inviting the lightest touch of breeze. The men here rest that way too, in plastic chairs shaded by blue-tarp awnings, T-shirts hiked up over their bellies. Small, naked children sprawl, listless, on the cool tile floors of Laberinto’s gold-buying shops along the southern bank of Peru’s broad Rio Madre de Dios.

The Chilean Girls

That was a fabulous summer. Pérez Prado and his twelve-professor orchestra came to liven up the Carnival dances at the Club Terrazas of Miraflores and the Lawn Tennis of Lima; a national mambo championship was organized in Plaza de Acho, which was a great success in spite of the threat by Cardinal Juan Gualberto Guevara, Archbishop of Lima, to excommunicate all the couples who took part; and my neighborhood, the Barrio Alegre of the Miraflores streets Diego Ferré, Juan Fanning, and Colón, competed in some Olympic games of mini-soccer, cycling, athletics, and swimming with the neighborhood of Calle San Martín, which, of course, we won.

Lima, Peru, July 28, 1979

This story has three characters. Three important ones, that is; three worth mentioning. Others may pop in here and there, but they don't mean anything. There is the police officer, pointing his gun at me. Manolo Carrión, or so he told me from the barrel of his gun; he had a small mouth touched with a wisp of a moustache and dark eyes hidden beneath a heavy brow. He frightened me. I can admit that now.