DIARY 3: July - December 1976

Upon the upland road
Ride easy stranger
Surrender to the sky
Your heart of anger
(J.K. Baxter)

The forest is mysterious dark and deep
I have many promises to keep
And many miles to go before I sleep
And many miles to go before I sleep
(R. Frost)

Tuesday 6 July, Huancayo

Quietly a new diary begins. Today is the start of my new diary. I have already written in those poems that I could remember. And from now on any stories or poems will be written with each day - no more of this set amount of space per day (with see page x whenever I need to write a bit extra).

Bright yellow trucks roll slowly up and down the roads. A boy sits on the top rapping a small triangle as loudly as he can. When the people hear this noise, they grab their rubbish cans, run out into the street and throw it to a boy who is sitting inside the rubbish. He empties it and throws the empty can out.

Didier and I would like to meet two women with whom to go and live in the mountains for a few weeks. We could rent a house, and cook vegetable soups.

Sitting here in the plaza for the third day in a row is a complete waste of time. Yet what else can I do. I start walking just a bit and the hepatitis gets moving again. My piss is not as it was when I left Lima.

I am still crying over the loss of my diary and still watching for robbers in the park and still advertising in the paper and on the radio.

The sun shines brightly all day. The sky is a beautiful blue - but when the sun goes down, it becomes very, very cold. There are immense dry yellow hills and mountains around, but no bare rock or snow.


Pepi left his village without telling anyone, except a street girl called Cora. By virtue of his cheeky but agreeable smile he won lifts on trucks right into the heart of Lima. There he talked to the boot-blacks who told him where he could sleep in safety and where it was best to look for jobs. By stealing oranges and biscuits he kept himself strong enough to find work as a dirt boy in an expensive cafe. There he made a friend and the friend found him a room for shelter. The job gave him food and a little money. Pepi was very proud of his position and worked hard. After some months he was given his most important job yet: folding and distributing the paper serviettes. He would arrange them in each glass in a spiral tower. Over time, he noticed these towers were getting taller and and taller. This was because he was folding more than were being used. This made him happy. In his half hour break, he would walk around the streets and look in other cafes, but he never saw any glasses with serviettes towered so high. One morning, when his boss was watching, he made a special effort to be careful and precise in his arrangements. But disaster struck. He knocked over one of the towers; serviettes floated everywhere, every direction, on the table, on the chairs, on the floor. Pepi wept. His boss remained silent. After this incident, Pepi began to think about the world and himself. He thought of the jungle, he had heard many stories about the trees and vines, so tall, all competing, reaching for the light. He thought of conversations he had listened to, the talk of more things, better things, more money, more possessions. He thought of his own ambitions and the strange new ideas that had come in the city. And he thought of his family, his brothers growing crops - beautiful and sweet - from poor and difficult land by caring and tending with their own hands. With the little money he had saved, Pepi bought himself a new shirt and a few presents for his family. He rode on trucks until he was nearly home, and then he caught a bus to the centre of his village. He danced off the bus, smiling with pride. But he only ever told Cora about the serviettes.


Expensive shops line this wide alley. There is a dead cat in the middle of one of the malls. I sit to one side and watch the passing people. Young girls in twos and fours always show some feeling at the sight of the dead animal, and maybe they stop for a second or two to look, but no more. Young lovers arm in arm draw closer together as they pass, not stopping at all. Old men show concern. Rich young men stride past, condescending to turn their head but not to spoil their walking rhythm. Two cocky boys march up to the dead cat, one has a rifle slung over his shoulder, the other kicks the cat to certify its dead. They talk for a few seconds and then one of the boys kicks the cat twice until it is lying next to the wall by a rotting newspaper stand. They walk on like old soldiers. Now, the dead cat is rarely noticed. A girl comes out from her house and sits on the front step on the other side of the rotting newspaper stand. With a pocket mirror, she makes her face. She cannot see the dead cat and the dead cat cannot see her. Which is probably just as well.

Wednesday 7 July, Huancayo


Cafe con leche, huevo y pan para desayuno. I put another advert in the papers and had more messages over the radio - but I don't think anything will come of it. I must accept my diary is gone and everything in it.

I sit in the plaza watching the people, reading and writing. I do a little walking to cafes for lemon tea. My piss is a little better colour this morning. I might risk travelling tomorrow.

What is Huancayo like? It's ordinary. A lot of boot-blacks work in all the squares - it costs five soles for a shoe shine - they can all read and write. The moon comes up early in the blue sky and is getting fuller. The mountain hills around the town move from misty shadow in the morning to dry yellow grasslands, to bright sunny shiny hills, to dark mountains when the sun has gone. I look forward to leaving the place.

Didier and I sat in different cafes and made notes about the people we observed and then tested each other to see if we recognised them. Later, we sent a note (as many translations of hello as possible) to three gringos at the back of a cafe, but they completely ignored it and us, which was very funny.

From port to port
From court to court
From inn to inn
Desiring of love

The swaying of a mind
Beloved indeed

Soiled by poisons
Of an enfeebled mind
And chided hands
Of my son's sons

Troubled insides
Oh Dear

My sex is lost
On boats and trains
Oh! the swaying
From port to court to inn

Copulating porcupines
Good Heaven

8 July, Huancayo-Ayacucho road


Did we really leave Huancayo? Walking through unknown markets and past cafes without bread, without milk, looking only for a way to the control point for lorries. The market area was heavy: with the railroad cutting through the middle, trucks were parked everywhere - resting their weary wheels and tired tyres; unhelpful vibes from the people and a lot of walking. And then sitting on our packs in growing shadows and growing disappointment; endless passing trucks that are going to Cabrisa or Pampas or Huancavelia. It seems nobody is going our way. It wasn't until the mid-afternoon that we found ourselves a truck with a bed of cement bags and lots of room going despacio, despacio to Ayacucho. So yes, we really did leave Huancayo, and I left my diary behind as well. While I was still near, there was always hope, but now, as we drift away, I must say to it farewell.

Sitting on the roof of the world in a chariot throne, I ride the bouncing machine, through dusted roads up, up and up through a valley of burnt dried and watered beauty, red soils, yellow fields, white soils and yellow fields, ploughed on vertical mountainsides and beside the river beds, flocks of sheep grazing beneath a child's eye, brown mud brick houses and stone walls carving mountain landscapes on horizons. The falling day and approaching night, the early moon waxing, the sun hidden behind vast black shadows, leaving cold winds and darkening masses around, frightening with frost, threatening a night of ice. Hot coffee and a meal in a dusky Pampas. The successive putting on of clothes up, up, and up to frozen grasslands; games of words to pass the early hours and broken sleep on the concrete bags.

9 July, Ayacucho


Twice in the night, the driver stopped for rest. I was dressed in two trousers, socks, t-shirt, jumper, jacket, scarf, gloves, and I was inside my sleeping bag with a poncho over the top. I was warm. The moon was nearly full, beautiful skies. Wisdom in the skies. And with the new day we rolled through red hills and chalk hills and hairpin bends, through mud hut villages and broken suspension bridges. I was sitting cross-legged in my kingly position on top of the cabin, so close to everything, the cold wind rushing past, the sun behind, in front, swaying shadows, distant mountain peaks, horses trampling fruits, peasants throwing corn to the wind or sitting with yellow flowers, the tall princely cactus, green valleys of flowers and green trees, old valleys carved by centuries of time, always the patchwork mountainsides, high, high in the sky, a beautiful, beautiful ride - a 'trip'.

We arrived in Ayacucho at lunchtime and found a cheap hotel near the market. It is clean, but without hot water. I've walked too much today and my eyes are yellow. We went around the town, trying foods and more teas. There's a quiet tranquil barbed wire square, but no soldiers or tanks; lots of old buildings with pillars and balconies, old churches and mansions; a small university with lots of students.

We met several children today when in cafes. First, we told two little boys we came from the moon and sun. They played the game, asking questions about the moon, it's money and people. One of them offered me a marble. We played a game for it and he won. He was very sweet. In the evening, a brother and sister started talking to us, asking us the same old questions. We insisted we came from Lima. Finally, I explained, for the first time this trip, that we get asked these same questions a hundred times a day. But they showed in their games they were intelligent and quick. They also gave us something, a picture of dolls they used to play with, and like the marbles, a very generous gift from children.

In the picture of the Lord's Supper that adorns many walls, Jesus always has his arms outstretched across the table and his eyes closed.

10 July, Ayacucho


Sabado que quiere - el sol, las aves, que mas, un pueblo feliz y montanas verde. There is an over-riding feeling of tranquillity about Ayacucho. I like it.

A cold shower squeezed the morning sleepiness from my head. Didier and I walk and talk slowly through a paradise of knitted socks being sold by indian women crouched within dark cupboards.

Didier is good for me. He makes me explain everything. I talk much more than he does - he listens well. We worry nothing about money, we just pay in turn. That is very good.

Sitting in the park we met two very pretty friendly girls studying law. Maria and Isabel are 19 or 20 years old. We talked of mundane things, and showed off a little.

Now it is almost 7, I sit in a cafe below my hotel, resting my liver, my wretched wretched liver. Maria and Isabel bought us some cake, it had a tiny . . .

. . . at the point above I was accosted by four ugly girls, who joked and swapped lies with me for half an hour. The cake I mentioned had a tiny bit of sherry in it.

I met the others in the park and Maria and Isabel took us to a party. I was afraid to eat too much. Party time and different worlds. A real dive with ultra violet light, dancing, smoking, sweating. The girls stayed very friendly. Mostly, I just danced the slow ones, but one or two fast ones as well which was crazy - and I feel it now. Afterwards we watched a terrible Dracula movie the girls wanted to see. After having spent a solid nine hours together, I felt bad about the way I left in the middle of the night. But the damage was repaired the following day when I talked about it with them.

11 July, Ayacucho


I woke with church bells at five in the morning from a sweaty night - which left a half tiredness that stayed all day.

I sat in the main park during the morning, talking to kids, seeing their smiles when offered candy, or watching a photographer and his skill with his subjects. Maria and Isabel showed up early afternoon, all smiles. They took us out of town a little to a country club, a little modern restaurant, bar, cafe, games, animals tied up. We found Maria's sister there with her fiancee and another girl. These girls are very classy, they handle every situation with ease, and don't get ruffled at anything. They taught us to play a game called Zappo. Basically it's a large box with holes in the top, each one is worth a different amounts of points. In the middle of the board is a brass frog with an open mouth. To play you throw heavy brass coins at the board. For a score through the frog's mouth you get 4,000 points and Zappo. We played all afternoon, laughing and giggling a lot. The whole club erupted when one of the girls got a Zappo.

The first rain for a long time.

In the evening some people play guitars and sing. I began to feel bad and couldn't look happy. On the way home I drank an emoliente but it devastated my intestines - and all night I was making I had to make explosive toilet visits during the night.

I have 6,500 soles, $163, £200, $1,100 travellers cheques, and an $80 air ticket.

Monday 12 July, Ayacucho


I am sitting on the curb opposite my hotel to catch the sun. There are a multitude of colours and lives passing by. On my right, a stout woman with old dirty clothes and trilby hat and two pony tails is selling vegetables. Enormous bright orange pumpkins provide a landing place for flies. She has sacks of onions, potatoes and empty boxes by the curb. In front, laying on the road, are baskets of peppers, leaks, carrots, spring onions, celery and lemons. On my left are cardboard boxes in front of which a woman, sitting cross-legged on the floor, sells rice. A woman comes, she is dressed as usual with three or four skirts, a hat, half-rolled stockings, ponytails, She has a bright coloured shawl around her back. She takes it off, and among the dried corn, potatoes and sheep's wool inside she finds a small bit of cloth to wrap some rice in. Folding the sides up, she puts the large shawl/sac back on her back, and ties it around her neck. Directly opposite a woman sells yellow lemons, oranges and dark green peppers only. To one side of her, there are stalls of plastic and aluminium implements. People, mostly women, walk up and down - half indians, young and old dressed almost universally in old heavy clothing with school packs on their backs. More than half are indians, the other half are mostly non-indians dressed in clean blouses and trousers.

The sun is hot. I feel unwell. Didier is having his shoes mended. This morning we talked to two people I had briefly met in Quito - they have been two and half months in the jungle.

And crazy hours in the evening with the girls. We played like children and laughed and all was good. A present from Maria saddened me.

13 July, Ayacucho


Skies full of space, grey clouds, white clouds and arid hills. Skies full of space and a spacy mind. My body is not full or obedient yet, there is a tiredness and other things occasionally. We like the sun, it warms and shines on brass bells, but the clouds take the sun sometimes and there is coldness.

Can I see 33 churches - can 33 churches see me? I have a desire to hear the bells all ringing together in confession. Should we leave or stay - go back or beyond? I am learning new things. We have a past - and I am crying over time. Time is the future in the past in the present - laugh will you. I learn. This are not important. So should it be forgotten!!! Should there be no emotion, no feeling, no expression of the past of time? This is important. We make our feelings to suit ourselves. I like to cry. I must find something to cry about. Welcome melancholia - you have been a friend. But there is not fear or unhappiness. Unhappiness is a stranger to me. Tears and joy are friends and welcome me in happiness. There is more of me to find, to give, to be.

BODY OF SUMMER by Odysseus Elytis

A long time has passed since the last rain was heard
Above the ants and the lizards
Now the sun burns endlessly
The fruit paints its mouth
The pores in the earth open slowly
And beside the water that drips in syllables
A huge plant gazes into the eye of the sun

Who is he that lies on the shores beyond
Stretched on his back smoking silver-burnt olive leaves
Cicadas grow warm in his ears
Ants are at work on his chest
Lizards slide in the grass of his armpits
And over the seaweed of his feet a wave rolls lightly
Send by the little siren song

O Body of Summer, naked burnt
Eaten away by the oil and salt
Body of rock and shudder of heart
Great waffling wind in the osier hair
Breath of basil above the curly pubic mound
Full of stars and pine needles
Body deep vessel by the day

Soft rains come, violent hail
The land passes lashed into the claws of the north wind
Which darken in the depths with furious waves
The hills plunge into the dense udders of the clouds
And yet behind all this you laugh carefree
And find find your deathless moment again
As the sun finds you again on sandy shores
As the sky finds you again in your naked health


The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

14 July, Ayacucho


Another day in Ayacucho, the sun shared with us and the market glowed. We talked in the night of renting houses and staying with Peruvian beautifuls. Isabel is falling in love with Didier; and Maria arrived all smiles. We went to a belltower with magnificent views of the city, sun, quietness and brass bells waiting to be played. We played games and a guide showed us houses for rent on mountainsides.

Such giggles over cafe con limon and then, and then . . . not even a goodbye, and Maria was gone. But I waited hours for Didier to say his goodbyes to Isabel.

I sat, during the evening, in the moonlit square. I watched a large group of young people encircled around two guitars. They were laughing and smiling and singing songs over and over again, and clapping, chanting, and strumming, I listened and made eyes at the moon and drowned myself in thoughts. And then, later there was another large group of people, over a hundred perhaps, all very silent and almost invisible because of their stillness. I approached one of them and asked what was happening, and was told someone had died. I didn't ask why they were holding a vigil in the middle of the square at 10:15pm. Instead, I set off for slowly for the hotel, feeling on the edge of old love, on the edge of new love, between birth and death but a lot nearer the singing group than the silent one.

15 July, Andahuaylas

To get up at 5:00 in the morning the following things are advisable: 53 ponchos, two hot baths, steaming hot breakfast READY, and summer. To walk through black streets from hotel to control point at 5:00 in the morning the following are desirable: 53 ponchos, the feeling of having had two hot baths and breakfast, and summer.

I want it clearly placed in the record that on arriving back at the hotel last night having not seen Maria, my heart was broken. I felt beaten and lost. There seemed little I could do in penitence. So Didier and I decided to get up at five in the morning. There were tears and angry voices in my heart, and little that Didier could do.

Riding on top of the world again, atop the truck cabins, sitting on ropes and axes. Riding up high it became cold, and a certain Frenchman became a pillow, while a certain genie called Jim, a little tired from overeating of avocados, kept our feet warm, and a certain lady called Annabelle talked of pigs.


Bathe in the centre of sound, as in the continuous sound of a waterfall. Or, by putting fingers in ear, hear the sound of sounds. In summer when you see the entire sky endlessly clear - enter such clarity. See as if for the first time an ordinary object.

16 July, Abancay


Yesterday revolved around hot showers and walking and talking. There was a colourful little incident in the Andahuaylas market, as we all bought things, socks, gloves and ribbons. I leant a little too hard on a display glass and it cracked. The owner demand 200 soles. In ignorant folly I tried to walk away, but the very sturdy indian wife started grabbing my poncho and pulling and grabbing and tearing me between her giant teeth. The others sat down in front row seats and I stood like a carrot with legs imprisoned in my glass homicide. An intermediary intermediated for a few minutes and mentioned a 100 soles. So, after a while, when things had got back to normal and I was beginning to get bored, I threw, with great authority, a 100 soles at the man and prima donna'd off the stage. The day dissolved into tea-drinking and sandwich-eating.

And Friday came very unexpectedly following Thursday. At 6:00am we waited and waited and waited for a truck and gringos got in and out and luggage was piled here and there and the gringos went to market for breakfast. At 8:00 one super speedy truck left Andahuaylas with us snugly on top of the world. Quickly, quickly up and up colder and colder, and the truck stopped to pick up people and chickens and goats and potatoes and more potatoes - until everyone was sitting on potatoes. Then we picked up more people. And then the mountains came - panoramic views of snowed mountains, and layers of mountain ranges and the waning moon and the brilliant sun. We pass llamas and lakes on cold mountain tops with camping herdsmen. The potatoes marched on and towards the time of holy almuezo in Apancay, a dreamy little place of semi-ugly streets, dark shops and offices lying 10km from a large river. Word games and inevitable teas - the inevitable teas and swollen bellies.

Onwards onwards upwards through Peru, through Peru . . .

Saturday 17 July, Cuzco


Can resentment ever be justified? Is it ever a 'good' thing? What is anger? What is it used for? Is it justified? Does anger become resentment when the moment is passed? After a rip-off breakfast we climbed aboard a full truck, one of the super quickies. The thrones were taken with luggage, but, I still try to sit up there but am told to get down. Later, though, I'm told I can sit there once we've passed the police control point. The control is way up the valley and I am very uncomfortable squeezed against others. After the control, the driver still won't let me sit on top. I am angry and demonstrate that I will go and sit there but I don't. My poncho hangs over one man's face, and my foot dirties his bundle. He is angry. The truck stops, and I move my position to the throne. The driver's son, who sits in the back with us, stops the truck to tell his father that I've gone to sit on the luggage at the top, but the father doesn't mind. This is a very silly story because I didn't tell it properly. But, basically, I wanted to note that, although I had disobeyed absolute commands and stolen comfort from other people, zero resentment was showed towards me that; but that I did have and did show resentment, but it was false anger, and often is when I'm travelling. It's not justified but is my little game for the sake of principles. So, to answer my questions: there is no purpose to resentment and it's difficult to justify; and anger can be important, but must be used with care.

It took almost a day to get to Cuzco from Abancay. We arrived very dusty, dirty, thirsty and trucked. We looked for a hotel with hot water and beds, and we freaked over the number of gringos, the huge markets and uppety prices.

Sunday 18 July, Cuzco


Pisac - have you heard that name before, on the lips of every Peruvian tourist. I was absolutely speechless to arrive at this little village in a beautiful valley and to maze my way through parked VWs and taxis. The market looked very colourful in the square but it was the greatest density of gringos I have seen anywhere - cine cameras down side streets, telephoto lens from upstairs windows, lots and lots of beautiful old things on sale at prices all at prices way above what they should be. I hassled and hassled for two bags, which I finally bought.

Friends go hiking up the mountainside for Inca ruins - pay 20s and breath very hard.

I lie on a hillside in the sun, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse filtered through my brain. The search for peace (again?). A young religious man, top of his class in Brahmin school, leaves the sect of his father and joins the Samanas in the forest with his friend. He finds find nothing there, but learns to fast, wait and think. He goes with his friend to hear the revolutionary Buddha speak. His friend gives himself to the Buddha and leaves. Siddhartha continues his search and becomes a rich merchant for many years, a rich man, a dice player, a lover of women. He becomes greedy and like all the other people. But, eventually, he does pull out of that way of life, and becomes a ferryman, and he gives up searching. His lover comes one day with his son. She dies and he remains. It takes Siddhartha a long time to realise that his son must search alone just as he did. Two pieces in the book really impress me. Firstly, when he decides to leave his father and decides to join the other sect. He goes to his father and tells him his wish. The father says nothing for a long time, but finally says he does not want to use angry words and asks his son if he would obey him. Siddhartha replies that he always obeys his father. The father goes to bed and Siddhartha remains seated where he is. The father cannot sleep. One hour passes, and he returns to find his son sitting there. He asks him how long he will stay there, he says as long as it takes. The father goes to bed various times and returns and the son is still there. Finally at dawn, he returns and tells his son to go. If he finds peace, to return and teach him his father (a highly respected Brahmin). Secondly, I like the bit when Siddhartha finally realises that he is being too good a father, too perfect a man for his child to accept. Something I learned a while ago, that people cannot accept goodness all the time, they have to have something to complain about.

19-21 July, Cuzco, Aguas Caliente


The river fjords, peaks and pikes, moss-covered cliffs. A hawk glides a spiral upwards, upwards, 1,000ft above the meandering Urubamba. Once people lived here in the sky, carving building bricks, hiding from the ground, from the river. Once people toiled here in the sky and worshiped the sun. A sun that came sometimes to warm, to grow, to live. A sun that came through the mists. And a myth that grew with gold. A myth grew and crumbled. And now is grass. A pasture for hungry tourists, for ego-hunting travellers. A pasture for writers and artists to see the mountains, the river, the sky. Few walls of interlocking stone are left, few Inca building bricks, but more a crumbling cottage stone of a poor man built, the Inca slave, the Inca beggar. Some flowers grow, and Peruvian government llamas or alpacas graze. A yellow pipeline sprints upon another mountain. Specks of colour dawdle from wall to stone from hut to rock from step to step.

And I am unimpressed. I am here but I am unimpressed. Sitting on a rock, watching the play of every day: red-helmetted grass cutters, drifting wind-carried chatter, people strolling, like in a park. I was talking a while with Didier just now - as we watched the tourist train pull in - about the Buddhist ruins I investigated near Peshawar. It was a very hazy memory. Didier is not interested in the old stone but likes the green mountains and green river. Jim sits on the other side of the saddle meditating. Annabelle takes photographs for a granny. The wind is smiling. Machu Picchu.

Have you seen this old old city
Have you seen, have you seen
This old old city, have you seen


What is Cuzco? It is situated in a mild valley, a patchwork of red tiles, cobbled streets, hybrid Inca walls, churches, squares, parades of modern arches. It's a cool city with beggars, ice-cream sellers and blind harp players. The Spanish added some churches to the place after removing the Inca civilisation. But giving the people Catholicism was sinful. We arrived on the Saturday (in time to dress up for dinner and mingle with the swarms of French and German bees). Initial impressions were of bustling markets, lots of gringos and old churches. For two days we did a lot of sitting in cafes drinking teas and milk and leches, or eating doughnut and honey in the main market in San Francisco square. The cathedral (a hideous place with galleries of ancient Spanish bishop portraits and alcoves of broken christs in ghastly glitter) and museums were empty. Our hotel, Roma, had falling down shacks for toilets. Our room was large with four beds brightly coloured and patterned walls and a roof that sagged several feet in the middle. One very amusing evening started with Jim painting and me being very speedy - lying on the floor breathing heavy to cool down. I noticed little beads in the cracks of the floorboards and started picking them out. Derek and Eric, the comic due, joined in the bead searching party. Didier was rolling joints, Annabelle wrote endless letters. Jim's painting got progressively darker, and my bead chain got progressively longer, and more colourful. Finally, I'd made a whole bracelet from the beads in the floorboards of Hotel Roma. Another evening we went to see Zardoz and then played blow football in a late night cafe (the Canadian Rollocks beat the English Whizzers by three goals to one).

There was a strange moment watching a very old lady standing in the doorway of a trinket shop, looking at a display case of cheap ear-rings. She pointed with her finger from one ring to another putting a whole lot of feeling into the pointing process. I stood watching her and felt almost impelled to buy her one pair. After an extra emphatic point at one particular pair, she walked away. I thought that she hadn't noticed me watching her, but when she'd walked 100 metres or so up the road, she turned and looked straight at me. There was anger in her eyes which spoke saying: 'Why haven't you bought me those ear-rings?' A very odd feeling.

22 July, Aguas Caliente


We went to the hot baths, otherwise known as aguas caliente - a kilometre climb up from the scraggy little shanty town. It was two concrete pools of very hot water which, after dark, were were full of naked gringos. At dawn they were full of dirty locals or dressed Peruvian tourists. Last night we were invaded by policemen checking passports and papers in an attempt to uphold the sex laws. We found out they were looking for three young American girls that did not have papers from their parents authorising a visit to the holy pure aguas caliente.

I read 'The doors of perception' or 'Heaven and Hell' by Aldous Huxley. The essays are less about mescalin than about the need of man to escape from his monotony. He says, in 'The doors of perception', that mescalin would be a much better drug for the population than alcohol or nicotine. In 'Heaven and Hell' he gets lost in references to various artists and pictures that he feels show through some of the unconscious world. He talks about the gold and light of religion as a necessary evil. I remember his book 'Island' and his perfect drug - but even then there is the eventual breakdown of that system.

There were some eyes I saw last night: a rugged small man with a tin, a harmonica and panpipes. He danced jigs on the pavements late into the night, and looked into your eyes with the piercing power of a spear. His eyes were black. To outstare him was a victory. He was a strange man.

Friday 23 July, Cuzco


We went walking in the hills. We tried to walk on the Pisac road out of town past the Inca ruins, but a ticket collector and policeman refused to let us through. He said it was prohibited for us to walk on the road, but it was just an ordinary road. I argued to know avail. I thought of Kafka and a long conversation I had had with Peter (my travelling partner on the boats from Panama through St Blas islands to Columbia) about never having got deeply into anything in my life but thinking I would if there was a cause. Say, for instance, I was living a very sedate free life in England and then someone came along and removed part of that freedom, and endless investigation couldn't reveal a reason, wouldn't I possibly become a fanatic for a cause. Maybe not, maybe I would never become a fanatic at any cost. It's more likely that I wouldn't ever have just cause for being a fanatic. So, anyway, we walked back down the road and we took a path through a wood of eucalyptus trees stopping very often. At one point, I asked Didier and Annabelle if they dreamt, but they gave me very little response. I thought of Helen, Doug's girlfriend in New Zealand. She and I had walked on a beach once, and she asked me: 'Do you dream'. I said 'no longer', which she thought was very sad. So, there and then, I wrote Helen a very short letter. We lazed in the hills, watching an old man clean tidy bits of broken tile in a stream. We slid along grass paths and steeply wooded hillsides towards a wandering evening. I had some wild sexual fantasies before escaping into sleep.

Sunday 25 July, Sicuani


Saturday was a leaving day and things were very hard. We smoked after breakfast, and moving out of town was difficult. We took a bus to control point and then a truck to Urcos, where we lay around the plaza looking and waiting for further trucks. The bread ladies squatted and the sun hid behind the hills. We found a strange evangelical clinic run by two English doctors and their wives. Eventually we got a ride to Sicuani. We played games and huddled together in the truck as the cold and Sicuani approached.

Sunday came early, and everything was an effort, to get up, to walk, to talk, to be, to understand, to buy cigarettes, to walk in the hills beside deep brooks uncrossable by leaping Annabelles. Just lazing, lazing, nothing, sleepiness, slow moving clouds, waiting for some trousers to dry. And there below, in the fields, were women fetching water, and boys playing with dogs. A man and woman thrashed wheat without ceasing. What an endless striving for food and survival, while we just lay on the mountainsides, watching, we from other planets with gold in our noses. The need for sustenance took us to the town again, where we tranced through teas and sent each other presents on little pieces of paper. This afternoon, while making a fruit salad, I felt disappointed. Disappointed with me, with us. Our relationships have reached the top of the mountain, dope makes us apathetic and lethargic. We likened ourselves to apathetics.

Later though I skipped and played volleyball with friendly kids.

27 July, Juliaca


Before the sun has risen above the market, and while it is still blinding along the east-west streets, like a giant thunderball rolling down the road to the west, I am alive, walking the dawn shadows with cold hands. Some people are taken to work in the load-carrying tricycles, they hide their hands from the cold witch of night. One by one the market stalls open, and the goods are arranged. I drink hot tea from a tricycle tea stand, and watch the people go to work, the tiny men with loads on their backs that are bigger and heavier than their own bodies. How hard must a man work to earn some semblance of a living?

Yesterday, Monday, was a very fine day indeed. My seriousness and sadness that morning was noticed by Didier, and we sent little messages to each other. Annabelle thought it was silly; Jim went on a silent fast. Somehow, without too much waiting, but a lot of persistence, a cornsack truck condescended to carry us to Juliaca (where I now write). And cornsacks are very, very comfortable if placed in the right position. The lorry was nice and slow, and we stopped at strange broken down farms and a place of weird bright orange hot streams, bubbling mud pools and geysers. Some students, also on our truck, tried to boil some eggs but I don't think it worked. We all washed, although the water was too hot in some places.

Over La Raya and jogging along a valley lined with snow-capped giants and future ski-fields, the valleys and little valleys were flat as though they had been filled with lava or silt. Llama and alpaca farms dotted the road, as did little villages of mud huts with straw roofs. The straw roofs were very pretty, kept together by long pony tails of straw, braids hanging down the slopes across the roof. We got to Juliaca just before sunset.

Annabelle came and warmed my dreams while Didier and Jim went to see a film.

The sun rose once above an island and once above the clouds, to bring warmth and light to the lake

Wednesday 28 July, Puno


I've bought more woven ribbons. My collection grows dark and long. One Ecuador belt, though, still stands out. In the day I cover myself with ropes and knots: there is the belt that holds my trousers, there is the belt for my money pouch, there is my hand band, and sometimes I wear a waste-band. My days are drowning in ribbons, my pockets overflow, the bounteous bounteous ribbon is ever forgiving and ever flowing. Praise be to ribbons.

A long straight straight road traverses the Altiplano between Juliaca and Puno. It was a much wider valley than yesterday, but the same flatness and yellow grasses. Presumably, only the coldness stops more extensive grazing or agriculture. There is some marshy flooded land, a few foothills, and Puno which is a town of corrugated iron roofs stretching from the shore of the lake and struggling up the hillsides. The lake is blue, like an ocean.

The night was deep and short, but with love and warmth. Dawn called me from my bed and I ran up the hill so as not to miss the magic moment. Titicaca so golden, so beautiful; and then such hot tea in the market, warming my toes as the sun rose higher.

We searched for Sillustani or even information regarding the same, but taxi drivers laughed and the idea dissolved into pre-Columbian images of memory. We wander to the dock or pier and there's not a leader among us. Who can laugh or shout or cry what must be done, where to go? We take a boat to the isle of Uros. An hour either way to the so-called floating island in a mud patch covered with spongy reeds. The people's boats are made of reeds, the houses are made of reeds, everything is made from the spongy dried reeds that grow around their homes.

Now I sit on a new road, having just sat on an old road, the wrong road for half an hour. I think everyone should sit on the wrong road now and again. At least I am making an effort to see the ruins at Sillustani.

We all are happy, it seems; Jim, Didier, Annabelle and Paul. I have become very fond of my friends.

Friday 30 July, Pomata

I watched the dawn through broken golden yellow clouds with mules and cows grazing in the distance. The lake was still and blue expanding around the hills and snowy mountains far in the distance. Later, the sun glints off metal roofs, glints off the ice-capped mountains, glints off the azul lake.

Jim the genie has disappeared.

We found a strange red sandstone church us this morning. It had decorative carving around doors and windows, and inside there were old ragged paintings, some broken dreary religious ones. Dark stairs of worn stone lead to a bell tower with huge racked bells and arches way above the sleepy town.

We went to see a Woody Allen film called Sleeper. It was very funny (at least it seemed funny with the aid of some Machu Picchu green).

The genie returned from the hills, and yet it is not yet eleven - where shall we go today - today - today?

August 1976

Paul K Lyons


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