PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1976 - DECMEBER
Wednesday 1 December
I skipped work and got up at 10:30 or so. A message came that N wasn't coming to Vina, and I was to go Santiago. That made me feel sad. So I took a bus and walked up Cerro Carrel and walked through the cemeteries there. In one corner, far above the sea and town, I stopped a while and thought about what wante from life. The cemetery is beautiful, old, scattered with flowers and stone angels that have lost their heads. I took some photographs and floated through the deaths of rich families. I thought about writing, and that I shall have to write always ALWAYS. I thought of Frederic, and resolved to write to him asking about his feelings towards writing. It frightens me because of the image I have of writers, and knowing that F never really made it. I really must meet him. He must have a lot of me, and I can learn from that. But oh how many things to do in life.
Last night I drank some vino with Christian and Diego at Pato's till late in the night. The afternoon I spent there working on my sandles. Then I went to the tourism school's residencial to help with English. At school, all continues without too much pain. Every other day, everybody has to march - they hate it. The day of the first Everton final was Thursday last week and our inspectoria was flooded with notes for excuses for leaving school early - it was very funny.
I saw a film called 'Day of the Locusts' with Donald Sutherland, and another called 'The Gambler' with James Caan.
Saturday 4 December
Birds are chirping early on Saturday morning. Santiago is an odious town of heat, smoke, dirt, noise. Yes, I'm here again. The bus trip from the centre to N's house was strange, the people were statues and dummies of straw and wax, it was a lifeless crowd with heads hung in defeat, in absolute boredom, in responseless existence, devoid of strategy, will or emotion. It all became horrific. When a person got on the bus, he became famous, the hero, whistles burst out, crackers exploded, rattles rattled in my brain. My head was a theatre stage, a football ground. Somehow I had to keep that whole bus alive, it was my responsibility to keep some essence of life force there. I started twitching my facial muscles - winking, shrugging cheeks, screwing lips, wrinkling foreheads. Each second I had to realise myself, to stop the vanishing of the whole bus. After a while, a super old man got on the bus and one of the statues knew him, jumped up and gave him his seat, and set the bus alive with a spark of conversation, and then, a little later, a young woman with a baby arrived to keep the bus alive and pulsating. I wasn't needed any more.
Watching the marches at the school, I feel humiliated to be a human being. It is unworthy of nature this discipline, this display. It is degrading. When a pack of animals runs through the pampas, or a school of fish swim in the sea or a flock of birds fly in the sky, they are without rules, orders, shouting, leaders. They form curves and lines with beauty and ease instantly, there is no ugliness or disorganisation. Why is man so obstinate - because man has mind, he thinks; with the capability to think, he can be selfish. How degraded man is, how completely degraded. The only embarrassment, the only filth, the only ugliness in naturaleza is of man. He has escaped from evolution. The tonto of the world.
It continues to surprise me how childish and immature the boys here at school are, and how adult they can be when alone and outside the school. But then I remember that full grown men are the same, when they come together they can be like 14 year olds and lose all inhibitions. A man walking down the street alone will rarely whistle at a woman - but when with his mates he has more daring. I too am the same. I have more confidence, will do more outrageous things, if someone is laughing with me or supporting me. But why is man so different in a group than on his own? Basically he is a frightened little peanut unless with friends who he knows will not reject him (so long as he stays within limits that have been previously established). What the world thinks of him is less important when friends are on his side; but, when he is alone, the stranger world around him is more relevant.
In recent days, letters from Dave, Allison, Anna, Phil, Chris, Colin, Grandma, Arthur Mallman. Two letters only sent on from Buenos Aires which is strange. I know there are more there. Letters really do make me happy.
Jueves 9 December
Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat; please put a penny in the old man's hat
Life is hectic in the junior school. All the teachers are busy making decorations. Suzana is the worst - any shape is better than no shape at all - stick some gold on in any shape on coloured paper any shape, and there is an instant Christmas decoration. There are gigantic angels which are almost monsters and there are tiny ones, curly ones, blue ones, some with faces, some with feet and lots with wings. Padre de Pascua is as usual very popular. He is always red with lots of cotton wool. Today is the eve of all excitement. Everyone is stopping behind to decorate the classrooms for the parties tomorrow, everyone that is except for the children. And so we must ask ourselves has this last ten days been spent in such hectic activity solely for the benefit of the children (who do in fact prefer fairies to angels) or do we have to come to the conclusion that the young women teachers are themselves having a good time. Above, in the strict and regimental senior school, plans for parties are not at the forefront of the minds of the dedicated task force. In the office they sit from day to day, studying lists, searching for truants, scorning excuses. To form a disciplined marching parade is object no 1, 2, 3 etc. Can we assume that the inspectors are enjoying their festive sadistic work. We have good evidence to assume that the children of the greater school do not enjoy marching: suffering above, decorations below. Pleasant dreams to you all on Christmas eve.
I took myself to the third lecture of a travelling professor. It was about India. I was happy to see slides of places I had been and to remember some impressions of India. The professor only spent a month in India, as he did in China. He travelled quickly and widely with an interpreter and took very ordinary pictures. As he did with the China talk, he philosophised for half an hour after the slides, summarising feelings and attitudes to the country and comparing it with China. He would prefer to live in India than China even though it was much poorer and dirty, he said, because liberty is worth very much. He said many things that I thought naive. I tried to talk to him afterwards but he ignored me. Although a clever man, one that can remember facts and give a two hour lecture, I feel he got less out of India than I did.
Even if I say so myself, I am very difficult sometimes; I can hurt with the slightest actions. The problem with N is I keep on expecting her to be someone she is not, and she will try to be someone that she thinks I want. So sometimes when she disappoints me, I feel somewhat sad; maybe some anger too, and I put myself at a distance. She feels this easily and strongly. I am indeed unfair but oh so logical about it too. One big problem is that N will not understand that if I do not hold her hand or kiss her, it is not because I don't like her in that moment. In the evening of Saturday, after a day trip to swim in a river, she became very sullen and sad and far away. The whole afternoon we sat on different rocks, and then later we talked for over an hour about the little thing that had suddenly caused the strife. I explained all I could, indeed to the point of explaining things out loud that I had never explained to myself even. In the evening, late, back in the house we gently touched and kissed and she cried. I had not realised how deeply hurt she had been by my refusal to take her hand or touch her earlier. Sunday was much more together. One remarkable coincidence: I had exactly 23.80 pesos when arriving at the bus terminal and this was exactly the cost of the bus ride.
One more thing: N wants to travel with me, if I'll wait until 26 December for her. But other things are bubbling: a professor is looking to ask the chief of the British Steamship Co if I can get a ride home; Silvia is going to ask her boyfriend if I can get a free flight with the military to Punta Arenas; and the latest information is that the Navarena will leave on 15 December. I finish work on the 17th. When and how and to where shall I go??????????????
With Christian I went north. It was good to be carrying my sleeping bag again. We traipsed over dunes of interminable sand and through golden shadow copses until we arrived at a semi-clearing with brick walls, semi-domes, half seats, picked withering flowers, line ditches. People were gathered under the trees, and one was reading poetry. It was difficult for me to understand, I soon grew restless and fidgety. The freedom and romance of the meeting dwindled - it would not finish. Christian too was tired. We withdrew our souls from the darkened, enlightened place of two tombs. We moved across more grass and thistle covered mountainous sands guided by a distant light, to the living quarters - tents of students working. We shared peaches and wine with two tricksters who could not stand the pace, and later we slept in the dunes in the shadow of the gluttonous moon. Later I was told that the reading of Dante's Divine Comedy lasted 12 hours, right through the night. Somebody deserved a medal. Could anyone appreciate 12 solid hours of Dante?
The following day, Wednesday (a feria celebrating the ascension of the Virgin Mary), we were shown around Ritoque by another Christian. After seven years this is what exists: a plaza with an elevated zig-zag tarmac road; the music house, which is not visitable, but I am told has an open square of roof with a large square cone coming to a point or drain in the middle of the house - for effect when it rains; the palace which is a jumble of wood, corrugated iron and stairs, certainly inspired by the artist who draws staircase paradoxes; the igloo near the workshop where Christian is mending his prototype windmill and others are making a catamaran that converts into a canoe; another larger house that is a jumble; and the cemetery. All are isolated objects, results of experimentation. I am impressed by the openness of ideas to do this but I am not impressed by the families of poets or professors or whoever. The games are futile, they are hindered by a lack of money. There is no overall form. I, of course, have no right to be critical having done nothing in my life.
I love the eucalyptus tree - the leaves drying on the ground through a rainbow of colours - orange, purple, yellow, green, brown, red and ochre - the smell and the rustle
On the other side of Quintero, 4km along a dirt track road, hidden in the shadow of a detention camp, are four or five families that together form another Ritoque. There are a scattering of A frames, holiday homes, all better built, more luxurious than the homes of the people who live there. There is a railway station with three large signs saying Ritoque but no station house. Why have I come to this ghost town in the dunes? I think a Martha I know might be here. She is a morena, chica, largo pelo, negro. I find her alive and well but I am immediately ashamed of her poverty. She is earning 700 pesos a month working from 8 till 5. To get to her work, she walks 7km. Hung on the walls in her shabby home are the inevitable calenders, ancient dusty torn pictures, an old fluorescent light tube. I am given a rich, tasty fish broth, with fried fish and salad - and good tea.
Viernes 17 Deciembre
Spiders, beatles, ants and ladybirds investigate my brown legs, and sometimes I feel they are investigating inside my brain as well. For some inexplicable reason I have become very homesick. Lots of sandcastles have been washed away by the tide in the last week, and now I find myself giving London as my address for future letters. I realise how much time has past, how old I am, and wonder about what the fuck I'm going to do when I get back.
There were jokes and a final lunch and goodbye handshakes with the other inspectors. Adios to Colegio Mackay. Thanks for the 3,000 pesos and the boring days, and the games of football, and those so-longed for sandwiches and early morning coffees, and the friendly smiles of Susan and Silvia, and the water-pistol fun, and the small talks with Deliah, and the Christmas cakes and decorations, and the bow-legged army Mr Montenegro, and the sly wrinkling good mornings of Mr Hicks, and all those early early mornings, and those hundreds of words that I almost learnt, and all the books borrowed.
I went to the Pacific Steam Ship company to find out about boats going to England. There is one every three weeks or so, and sometimes they take two working passengers. But friendly Mr Jack Bowls told me I would have to know somebody, have to have some recommendation: 'We have to know who you are, I mean it's only right, we are not going on just anybody.' So as these wonderful words hit my sweet innocence another sandcastle dropped to the ground. Another blow was discovering that the Navarino would definitely leave on the 15th and wouldn't wait for me. A superclerk told me I could go to Mendoza for the weekend and renew my three month visa. Was she sure? Yes, absolutely sure. So why hasn't David returned? And why did Paulina's friend say that, after two visas, one needed to stay out of the country for three months?
On Wednesday, I went on a magical mystery tour. It started when a triangle of people offered me a smoke. I invited them to my house. They found themselves high and slightly embarrassed for not knowing their strange silent host. Tranquil times passed and we shared the sky and laughter and broke silences with smiles. I led them over rocks, and they led me to a house of wine and strawberries and Beatles music. The yierba passed endlessly through fidgety fingers and the triangle smoked cigarettes in a long chain. One would-be lover took my hand. She led us to an empty dark discotheque and we threw our lazy lazy bodies to the vibrant music and the empty space. Eyes started to ask me questions, are you really going? The eyes were wide, sometimes open. Sometimes she hid her whole face from me as if I were the devil. We sang 'god save our gracious queen' in such loud voices, in such a seedy bar; and then we went singing, laughing through Valparaiso. Then suddenly it was time to part, we were all undone, all in our little worlds again. I didn't know who she was, but we seemed to cry together for not having met before. And N? Forgotten? No, but one can love more than once in a day, in an hour.
Thursday was one of those days when nobody but nobody has time to smile at you. I floated through the day looking for smiles and everywhere everyone's face was occupied in more important things. I was looking for people to say goodbye to, looking for people to give gifts to. And for a while I played hide and seek in the garden of the Morels.
Sabado 18 Deciembre
I am once again in Horcon and trying to remember the important impressions of the last weekend here. It was a week ago, a long week ago. I am always very happy when N arrives on Friday afternoon with her smile and tangled hair. I do look forward to seeing her and the w/e has become more special than the week. The house last w/e was full of people - mothers, dogs, daughters, friends. Some young fools made strange noises through the night and N threw them out; later a swarm of people arrived and we escaped to far distant beaches under the shadow of the giant curve and the wonderful wonderful clouds that retracted the heat. We talked a lot on the beach by the great curve about love and those things we always talk about. Later, La Gloria was stupendous in the noche, free, free, flying wide high, dancing, dancing, always with N, always a world apart from the rest of existence.
I sometimes say spiteful things about gringos living here, they are gooses, and the Chileans suck up to them. I try and make them see they are tontos, but it is of course a very stupid, childish, goosish thing to do. They will constantly drug themselves, get drunk, and act like animals. When I say they act like animals, I have a problem because of what I wrote about ugliness in man and not in animals. But I've just tried to worked the paradox out. When I say act like animals, I refer to situations such as animals grovelling in gutters or climbing about in rubbish tins, i.e. where animals have come in contact with man. That's where I think the metaphor comes from. So, anyway, I decry the gringos and really I shouldn't. N likes to see them. Five or six gringos have arrived in Horcon, settling in for Christmas and New Year. I am glad I am leaving. I can see I am going to become very fussy about my gringos from now on. Life is better without them. Travelling should be GRINGO-LESS.
One Tuesday, I finished my sandals at the house of the Morels. I spent the evening with the girls at the translator school. I taught them some English, and we played games with pieces of paper. I wrote on one 'I would like to make love to you' and the reply came after laughter, 'why?'. On Thursday I returned to say goodbye. I don't know what ever possessed me to spend evenings in a room with a herd of first year tourism student girls.
I am in jail for 10 years. I escape with two others and go directly to the restaurant opposite the prison. A CIA man enters so we leave. The two others wait for a bus to the country, the CIA man follows them. I move toward town trying to decide whether to give myself up or not, then I remember that my diary and rucksack are in the restaurant, so I return and encounter the CIA man. He asks we who I am. I tell him I am one of the people on his list, but not an escaped prisoner. He wants to see proof of identity but I haven't got any. I say I left it in Puerto Montt. He lets me go. I find myself looking for a bar between the restaurant and the city, and ask someone where I am. Then I find I am in a vast sauna complex with many people in cubicles and boxes. Some rooms have bleeding people, others have naked people, and yet others have people who want to make love but dare not. I can hear one person asking 'if we rent a cubicle can we do anything we want in it?', 'yes absolutely anything you want' comes the reply. Through another maze of rooms, I finally exit and find myself in the home of some friends (perhaps the Leteliers) who won't rat on me. They give me food and drink. One of the Renaca school inspectors approaches. I hide under a blanket (with N) to pretend a shy courting couple, but the inspector throws off the blanket, and I know she will tell the school she has seen me. I feel very angry at her. Then one of the teachers from the school passes and recognises me. I feel I have to run. But not to Argentina, they are sure to check all the passports at the border, and I can't think of a way of escaping across the frontera. So I decide to go through to Tierra del Fuego and out that way.
Nina plays in gardens
Hopping between the hyacinth
Hoping to find me
She walks by my side
As I crawl through the roses
She laughs at the thorns
Is blind to the gorse
Sunflowers are sprinkled between our hands
And our fingers play with pollen
We swim in the salty pond
And cool our precious souls
Delicate, fragile to the pamper of time
Nina plays in gardens
She has seen a tree of flutes
And wants to play them all
Can they really sing
Black hooded priests are chanting
On the river bank
Unknown the stream, unknown the tongue
We are glad to listen
How many trees to taste
Before we know
Let us grow, let us grow
She whistles in my ear
But youth is past, the river flies away
Nina plays in gardens
Picking tulips for a passing stranger
Beneath the poplar, the pines
Humming tunes of the elves
Reaching for my hand
We dance the whimsical path
Sleeping in the herbs
Tasting apples before we have to go
Before we have to go
In some wood it is written
Here are born the children
Who play ring-a-ring roses
Nina plays in gardens
I have seen her struggle in the womb
Rolling slightly on the grassy bank
Calling me to the dune
Have you loved before, she says
I count the dunes
And ease her from the womb
Treasures are discovered when
Below the dawn, the children have gone home
One priest remains
To confirm and count the beads
Black-robed ordained, the terminator
Nina plays in gardens
Candle-trees shine and whisper in the dark
She picks the cactus and the daisy
And gifts them both to the children
She found crying in her arms
She peers through bushes
For the eyes she met in a dream
There are fire-fly eyes
Reflections of the candle-light whispers
They kiss her quietly
Before the king, the dream
The god, the gold can give her sleep
Nina plays in gardens
With virgin soil and hand
Sifting through her fingers
Thinking on the stranger things
She cannot help but find
Between the stones she picks a poppy
Which gives her dreams and tears
And from the forest walks a ghost
To the forest leaves a friend
The garden closes with the dusk
Between the lips she finds a word
A smile, a peace, I am
In Horcon taking 'onces' after a pre-sunset swim and the sunset. Saturday passed calmly. The most beautiful event of the day was the non-arrival of N's mother with a car-load of brothers. Everything is quiet and drifting away. I was happy, a little talking, some strange grassy dreams drifting along playas. Christian and a friend joined us. They've been working like pigs in their attic to finish models and projects and now they are flying in libertad. I have a lot of time for these two guys. I am pleased to have the company of Christian here for the w/e - but his friend is behaving like a goose.
Horcon is a really special place. I am almost in love with it. I feel very privileged to have had the luck to find it. And now the end of my diary is here, the last page. I am still in Horcon. Tomorrow I go to Santiago and will leave for Argentina quickly. Somehow I don't really want to go to B.A. I really want to go to Tierra del Fuego but, well, that is not to be.
As this is the last page, I feel I should be full of philosophising about things. But how important is it really. In appearance and physical make up it is exactly the same as any other page. Only its position is different. Were it three pages back, it would be a nobody. As it is, it is a somebody, a terminator, an official. It has title - last page. Loathing final pages, as I do sometimes when it is sunny and a Sunday, I would invariably tear it up and burn it in the next joint or rip it up and put it in the stew, but an alien intelligence tells me a final page will still exist and that I could never get rid of it, except by never starting.
The answer to life: don't start. What wisdoms come on final pages - if nothing is started there is no effort needed, no pain, no sorrow, no dying, no final pages. Don't start. Why did nobody tell me this before. But any how this final page wants to be. I hear it shouting: I want to be, I WANT TO BE.
Shall it always end and yet never end.
Thursday 23 Deciembre
So I left Horcon and I left Vina and I am in Santiago for a little while. I have a ticket for Mendoza on Sunday I will leave at seven in the morning. When I went to buy a ticket to leave, I was going to buy it as soon as possible, but I got scared, arriving in Buenos Aires on Christmas Day can't be much fun. So I'm staying here for Christmas, and will have some Christmas spirit for the first time in three years.
The city is so busy, so alive. It seems like there are frightened and lonely people in every corner of every street, counting the passing days to Christmas. People are getting desperate, running to and fro from shop to shop to shop. Others are running to and fro to sell. The streets are full of little markets and street sellers. There is a long market at Mapodo of cheap, little things. The artesania feria is small and a little disappointing. Little of the work is as good as that of the Morels. Artesania is fashionable, and the people in the feria are very fashionable, young and free.
N went far away from me for two days and burst my ego balloon. Then like a traffic light she changed and we are closer than ever. I have come to like her very much indeed, enough to say 'te quiero un poco' which I have never said to anyone. It was some sort of punishment for bursting my ego. I shall be very unhappy to leave her, but I have the choice of waiting in B.A. and going to Paraguay with her.
Santiago has such wonderful sunsets, which is rather ironic.
I read in the Times that there were 100,000 arrested by the Pinochet government. A 1,000 political prisoners can leave if they get permission and exile from another country. Many are asking Britain, but it is being very slow and bureaucratic.
N practices the piano and cooks for her mother. I read and disturb her and study a little Castellano. The days are hot and it is difficult to concentrate. We went to dinner with Christian one evening. He has become a good friend; we three get on well together even if there is a little shyness still between us.
Domingo 26 Deciembre, Mendoza
Somehow I am in the depths of Las Heras again, seated in a cafe drinking tea totally alone for the first time in two months. I am so tired. Since I awoke this morning, just before 6:00, there have been tears in my eyes. Sometimes they stay inside sometimes they dribble down my face, and my nose runs too, and sometimes, when there is nobody near, I sob and sob. I woke N with two kisses hoping she would fall back to sleep and remember it all as a dream, but she came to and watched me, she watched me sling my mochila over my back, take her hand and say goodbye. I remember now she did not say a word, nor did she smile or cry or anything. It was as though she were in a trance. I walked away from her with whispers on my lips, but as ice, ice cold retreating from her life. And she must have seen me, exactly as when she first saw me on the road in Horcon before I turned my head and said 'hola'. If I am like this - constantly crying - I cannot imagine how terrible she feels. Perhaps she can sleep and she has the family around to occupy her, and she has her piano. I feel so terribly terribly alone. Perhaps it is the strongest relation I have ever had. During the last few days we were like infatuated lovers, forever kissing and embracing - the days and nights were so long. I go over in my mind the weekends together, the meetings, the partings, the smiles and the tears. How can I do this: walk away from such a deep relationship as though it never existed. Maybe it is a very ugly thing to do. Now I feel ugly. I want to see her on the other side of the street. I want the bell of my home to ring on Friday afternoon. I feel totally lost and empty. I remember the smile that would remain on her face as she lay in the sun feeling my hands smooth through her body. And I remember her childish joking 'NO!' as she half spins away and withdraws her hands from mine. The shirt I am wearing, the mountains, trees, sun everything I see reminds me of such good times with her. I sob to think of her now and how she is feeling.
The last two days with N were really special. We went shopping and walking and shopping and making cards and wrapping and cuddling like children. Christmas Eve we went visiting with Christian and his girlfriend, and we whizzed around in a Mini (a shared Christmas present). Back at N's house, the was ready, the Christmas tree lights were flashing, N wore a pretty long dress, the boys huddled around and the relations started to arrive. I was full of Christmas spirit, ready to accept anything that was put on my plate. N resented always having to work in the kitchen. After the dinner, presents were opened, small things, but everybody was happy and full of smiles. When Christian arrived a little later, we skipped with Rodrigo in the car to a super dull mini party, and after to town.
There was no toque de queda [curfew] that night. That was worth celebrating far more than Christmas. We hit the plaza, danced and swam and played and acted like liberated prisoners. It was not crowded at 4:00 in the morning, neither was it empty. N's cork shoes went floating off in the pond towards London; we returned by dawn.
Christmas Day was the last we spent together. We bused and hitched and trekked into the hills to find an empty place to bathe in the river. There we were completely one, with not a thought of the future to come. We were true lovers and yet we did not make love. N was very happy. I was very happy. Yet in 12 hours time we were to be totally separated, more or less for the rest of eternity. FOR EVER. How and why was this possible. The answer is very simple. Because I chose this course. I could have stayed in Santiago and waited for her. I could still wait in B.A. for her, but I won't. BUT I WON'T. But now having written these things I am not so sure. I AM UNSURE. Such confusions and pride. Now I am really considering waiting in Buenos Aires for her; my mind is fluctuating like a yo-yo.
Christian wrote some very beautiful words in a calendar he gave me. Rodriguez made me a small wooden cross which I left hanging on a tree in the Andes. I gave N a ring from Ecuador.
I should record a little incident with the police: Christian was driving the Mini and going round a roundabout to leave by one exit but, when he saw a police vehicle, he changed his mind. Two minutes later a giant car (black and white) with siren (red) overtook the tiny little Mini and signalled for us to stop. As the policeman approached our car with their nasty sub-machine guns, puting fear into all our hearts, Philip and Christian climbed over each other to change places (Christian didn't have a licence). N was confident, clever and childish. Felipe insisted that he was driving but Christian told the truth. Between smiles and threats and games of justice, the policemen let us all off on the pretext of Christmas. I think they realised there was no harm in us, just a group of frightened students. After that scary laugh it was time for a coffee; and then Christian left; and then it was time to sleep; and then it was time to go; and now it is time to cry.
Jueves 30 Deciembre, Buenos Aires
COLOURS - DISGUISE 31
Why have I never realised that when one lies on one's back and stares at the sun with closed eyes one can feel the different colours of the spectrum. With eyes screwed up hard and hands covering them, there is a brilliant royal blue. Eyes screwed up but not covered there is a strong red. With eyes just lightly closed there is brilliant yellow of course. I found all the colours except green.
There is a letter whizzing its way to N to say I want to travel with her.
Disguise 31 includes long words, reading, formal dinners, discussions on religion, tranquillity, introversion, humility (this trait sometimes slips or is falsified). Disguise 31 is rather useful to combat the evils of a real city. It is tranquil, it knows how to use private swimming pools and be refreshingly honest about knowing nothing of classical music.
12 March has become a magical date - I am going to try and get home for then. My plans are fairly fixed: I am going to return to B.A. at the end of February. Delfino Company say I have a fairly good chance of working my passage then. There is also a passenger boat to Barcelona leaving on 5 March. If neither work I'll probably fly. How close time is, impatience and fear grow simultaneously.
Arturo is my host, my one time friend from Bariloche. HIs father is a financier who is having a lot of problems. But they have a very rich house with lots of maids and a swimming pool (that is blue and curved and clean). The house is full of carpets. Arturo's room is full of classical music and books. The family is German and Uruguayan. We all eat together - good food, but it is a very formal atmosphere. There is a pretty daughter with a creepy boyfriend. Arturo is a Christian and reads the bible a lot. Friends come around one day, they swap books, poems, stories, and grunt at each other's work and ask each other questions. One is an aging character who lives in the country and writes and reads. He seems to have travelled a lot, taken drugs, and lived in monasteries for seven years. Arturo asks him questions about his bible readings. There are few jokes. Conversation is slow and a little empty unless a point is disputed and then maybe a discussion follows - as happened when I thought to say that I didn't agree that Borges wasn't ART. We all survived a few more silences.
The air is very warm, the sun has something to do with it; birds chirp in this area of big gardens and rich houses. There is a greened over railway line below, next to the river, chocolate brown, muddy, very wide, a typical American river I have seen in so many TV movies.
Book called 'Small town in Germany' by John Le Carre, a slightly good thriller. Play called 'The Cocktail Party' by T.S. Elliot - read it quite quickly, didn't fully understand it - is meant to be seen not read, that's why it's a play. Play called 'Las Pequenas Borguesas' by Gorki' which I saw in Spanish.
31 December 1976
Arturo told me the Bariloche Foundation has been completely closed by the government. I was not aware of the politics here, but it appears the government is worse than that of Chile. There are a ridiculous number of shootings every day, prisoners disappear, and thousands have left the country as they did from Chile. Arturo hardly speaks a word to me. I cannot believe it is wholly because of the money troubles of his father. I just came in late for lunch and I felt like a naughty school boy. There was an asado last night, a sort of reunion of a 'mates'. I felt rather out of the whole brood and tended to withdraw into my little shell. I enjoyed swimming in the pool at night though.
Paul K. Lyons
Copyright © PiKLe PuBLiSHiNG