PAUL K LYONS
JOURNAL - 1977 - JANUARY
New Year's Day, Buenos Aires
Another new year's day in the Southern Hemisphere.
A ticket inspector told me I could not travel on the trains in short trousers, and I was to leave the train at the next station. I would not have obeyed but for two well fed guards full of menacing gestures. I left the wagon in disbelief, disgust and shouting abuse. I told my family of this outrageously petty law and we talked for long hours about ways of getting it changed. I told friends, they too were deeply moved by the injustice. They joined me in my efforts to try and change the law. I wrote several letters to daily papers, none were published. A friend wrote a song about wanting to wear shorts on the trains, and a small group of us began to meet regularly to discuss plans, read protest poems, and sing the song. Finally, we decided we would march in shorts to the local council building, with banners, singing and shouting, and demand a change in the trouser law. On the eve of our long-planned march, they killed my brother.
3 Enero 1977
I've just come away from the film 'Lenny'. I think the man was wrong. Having realised the extent of the hypocrisy around, he should have learned to work within its bounds. To go beyond is to martyr oneself for a cause (a lost one). So, I think he was wrong but what he was saying was perfectly right, only he didn't realise the implications of what he was doing, he lost his sense of balance and spiralled to suicide.
Sidetrack one. He had a purpose - to expose hypocrisy. But why expose it. Everybody consciously or subconsciously is aware that it exists. It exists because it exists, because man made it, invented it, formed language. Somebody said that he thought hypocrisy a splendid thing (from 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance') because at least people see something better than they are living, and put a standard to live up to. But when we realise we are all hypocrites where does that put us. I know it is there, I know I am a hypocrite. I don't like it. But what do I do. Lenny Bruce gave his life for it, but if he had stepped outside his spiral for a minute, and looked at himself, he would probably have had a little more sense.
So many things run through my mind. Sidetracks 2-8. I have a strong desire for some sort of fight, aim, goal, to be so strongly involved. I know it is not good or sensible and still I pine for it. I worry too much about what the world is doing. I worry about not being able to handle relationships, people. My mind is always tossing around, trying to fight to be doing more satisfying things, in logical sort of way. And the book I just read, 'Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance', is about another man hung on a thread, a spiral. What happens when you know it is better to be a simple person and live a simple life, and yet never can come down from the level you are on. So the higher you climb, the more unstuck you get, and you have to keep climbing.
And then there's this struggle with words. The whole concept of language which seems to be a root cause of everything we are now.
So Lenny was stupid not to realise his illogicality, his crazy behaviour, his paradise. By saying that, I am suggesting I'm cleverer than him, that I understand more than he does. But where does that take me? Into the world of lunatics. Maybe the answer is to be logically crazy - but then they killed my brother.
Arturo, in so many words, told me to get out of the house. I was beginning to interfere with his security I think. He is unhealthily following the teachings of one Don Hugo. I will return to B.A. on Monday after a week of heavy travelling. I'm on a boat again. I'm alone again. I'm travelling.
How can a river be so wide, it has to be a long sea not a long river, no rivers are so wide. This boat is big. Boats this big don't fly on rivers, they go on seas and oceans and things. I can feel and hear the hum of the engines. The boat moves through the night like the river. The moon is nearly full, I can pretend it is. Everybody gets a bed on this boat - it is clean and tidy. There is a cafeteria, bar, restaurant, night club. It should be reasonable. It cost $15. It's good to be on a boat again.
Uruguay - first new country for simply ages.
Miercoles 5 Enero, Montevideo
DOWN AND OUT IN MONTEVIDEO
I am really untogether, but super-untogether. Deciding which cafe to go in has become the major decision. What I'm looking for all the time is the perfect cafe. But of course it doesn't exist. So I dither about the streets in a constant indecisive murmur. But it's not only which cafe to go to, it's all the little decisions. Which train to take, which museum to see first, where to leave my bag - it's crazy. I'm sure it could lead to madness. I wandered around an artesania feria last night - lots of arty people, some fine things. I took a bus out of town, spent an hour trying to hitch without luck, and then went to sleep in a sandy forest. Having seen thunder and lightning in the approaching sky, I chose to ignore it. When the pat pat pat of unwelcome rain emerged out of a dream into consciousness I had to run - trousers half closed, sleeping bag dragging on the ground, across the bridge, to find a large garage awning, to rest on the concrete by a door in the centre of the shelter. The warmth and comfort felt good until a dog started yelping on the other side of the door. It gradually caught the scent of where I was, and stood right next to me, with only the door between, barking at the smell of my body. I moved a few feet away but the dog continued barking for half an hour, and set off a whole chain of other dogs barking into the distant night. Finally, he stopped, and I was about drift off to sleep when I realised I was sleeping on top of a trail of giant ants - so I had to move again!
I met a Romanian girl taking photographs. The tourist office was superhelpful. People here are much less rude than in Argentina, and generally more helpful. I've had no problems leaving my mochila places. The Uruguayans drink mate on the beach, driving to work, in the park. They carry a mate cup and a thermos of hot water wherever they go.
My feet are in a very bad state, with blisters, sores from picked bits, very hard skin on the soles, dirt. I bought some canvas shoes that are too tight, and the sandals I made are serviceable but create itchy points and little blisters where the leather rubs. My left eyelid sometimes takes a turn at fluttering completely involuntarily, some nervous disorder, but I can't find a cause. I pick my face and feet a lot. I must stop, must stop because surely it will leave marks if I go on, and that would be plain stupid. My body is very weak. It really needs a little bit of regular exercise. I walk millions of miles but that only gives me flat feet. I haven't touched a cigarette since La Paz, and I drink very little alcohol, even though my hep six months is over. Wrinkles grow on my forehead from yawning and frowning too much.
I am carrying in my rucksack 14 books - this has to be a record for a rough traveller. I am very afraid of arriving back in Buenos Aires and finding no communication at all: if Didier, Christian and N have all written saying they can't meet me, then I'll feel sad but OK, but I fear there being no letter from anybody.
After five hours of hitching towards Punta del Este I got nowhere, I came back to Montevideo and dithered - to catch the train or leave my mochila in the station and go and see J. C. Superstar in the cinema and then a mediaeval music concert in the cathedral. After much mind wrangling (for I was anxious to get to P del E) I decided to stay in Monte, to sleep in the station and then catch the early train in the morning to P del E. As chance ran, the film didn't start till 4:30 instead of 3:30 so I had time to kill and went to talk to the Romanian photographer. Then, after asking around, I found the cathedral wasn't here at all but in another city. Nobody seemed to know where it was. Finally I went to the tourist office and was told me it was in P del E. So then I ran but a train ticket, get my pack and get out. And, yes the concert was really good (a whole constellation of instruments, and they even played Greensleaves).
P del E was exciting at first, since there were lots and lots of people and life and pretty girls on the beaches and in the streets, all dressed well and with style. But my wide smile slowly got smaller as I didn't seem to meet anybody at all. The whole world seemed to be at a party that I wasn't invited to. It felt like I'd gate crashed. But the moon was full. By Thursday I'd built up an interest in a place called Piriapolis - I thought it might be a bit like Horcon but bigger. It wasn't. After faling to get a lift, I caught a bus - it only took half an hour. There was a long flat gentle beach with semi-old buildings and amusement arcades, and the people were more middle class, more fat and more middle-aged than at P del Este, and had lots more children.
I watched the fat yellow ball sink into its dreams. As I packed up my bags to leave the beach, I met some eyes, the eyes of a fellow traveller. He turned out to be only 16 and from Otavalo, in Ecuador. He told me he was one of ten sent out, two years ago, from the famous Indian village to discover the secrets of society. So this is how a decade of travellers to Otavalo affected the people there: they now send out their own scouts. It's a really cute and fairy-tailish idea. Also in town were a group of kids with sleeping bags, making wrist bands from wire. True children of the post-artesania age.
It's good to be sleeping on a beach again with the moon and a huge wash basin in the morning.
Sabado 8 Enero, Piriapolis
For a change, I am not sitting in a cafe but in an auditorium listening to some trashy progressive music - a seventh international festival. It will go on to dawn. All the people I've been spending time with here are living from peso to peso, many of them found it really difficult to get the bread together to come. A Brasileiro is asleep after hassling all night to get money for an entrance ticket. Another two Brasileiros make copper wire jewellery that isn't very good. But the festival is all a bit second rate. All Piriapolis is a little second rate after Punta del Este which really does have some class I've decided.
Then there was Rosa who hadtravelled for a thousand years. We spent a day and half together. She had furrows and wrinkles on her heart, and a corrugated soul. Words poured out from our mouths, we talked and talked, every single word and phrase second hand, third hand, jumble sale quality, but we were road runners on a foreign lonely escalator. She told stories of Colombian millionaires, the perfect dream but for impotence, and other wouldd-be aged lovers, and of the seven or eleven languages she speaks and cries in. We shared my pesos, exchanged fairy tale addresses, and kissed to part. She left just one more little grey burn between my ribs.
Martes 11 Enero, Buenos Aires
I stayed in Piriapolis until Sunday lunchtime, mostly with the group of roughnecks which became quite large. We alternated between the beach and the cafe and trying to get into the swimming pool for free.
There is nothing waiting for me here from N. I am now confused and uncertain. I cannot work out what is going on. I have left messages for her everywhere. I hope she wants me to wait, I hope she is coming. If she hasn't got my letter, things could be very confused. I don't know how long to wait without information. I don't know what to do with myself in B.A.
I am in a travellers' hotel again, and I meet some travellers - they can be very boring people. Today, I caught a glimpse of a new world - the world of international motor racing and journalism. I met Jeff Hutchinson in the post office when lost in the teller whirlpools. After one hour of tossing, weighing, licking stamps, complaining, rotting, joking, shouting, four dispatches were finally sent to motor racing magazines all over the world. He took me home (City Hotel), introduced me to friends, bought me a drink, and let me listen to motor racing journalism talk for a few hours: girls, engines, the just-over Grand Prix, drivers and their social attributes, and Jeff's superb house on the French Swiss border. Among the journalists was one from Sweden picking up torture and abuse stories by the police.
Viernes 14 Enero, Buenos Aires
I still don't know if N is coming. My hopes build when I go to see if there are any letters and I keep trying to work out in my head what could have happened. I went to visit an area known as Tigre, where there's a whole world of canal life with barges, launches, motorboats, rowing boats, canoes, and all the channels of muddy brown water super busy with traffic. There are restaurants along the river bank, with tables and chairs set out (placed so as they lean against the table the table holding the tablecloth down). I see one old waiter with three tables out by the river who has nothing to do (there are customers at other restaurants but not at his), but he is very happy: he's craftily tugging on a nylon wire, the other end of which happens to be in the river. The Fishing Waiter.
Last night I saw a notice for a FREE concert with Los Jaivas. I walked the million and half blocks to the theatre where the concert was to take place. There were some people waiting, so I joined them. Two and a half hours later we were led into the auditorium. Half an hour later, a man came onto the stage and gave away some certificates. One special man, who had been in music for 50 years, was asked to speak. I didn't understand, but he had a big big smile. After a while the audience got a bit tired of him. There were guitars and things on stage, but they weren't set up for a group to play. I began to suspect it was all some kind of promotion farce. After waiting three hours, in which time all I'd seen were some phony certificates given away and some crappy advertising, I left.
There is a strong Argentinian trait which is very macho. Argentinians always seem curt and rude in cafes and shops. The young people I've met have been self-centred and super confident. There is no sympathy or softness here, as there was in Chile. The difference is remarkable.
I went to visit Arturo ayer, he was still working to fix the canvas on his van. He was making it as complicated and as difficult for himself as possible. But at least he was doing something. I tried to stimulate him into some sort of conversation but it was oh so difficult. I felt in the way. Later I talked to Hugo, his monk and spiritual adviser. He told me Arturo is a lot better than before and heading in the right direction, improving. But what direction is that - to a monastery?
Domingo 16 Enero, Buenos Aires
It never occured to me that N might have been here in B.A. all the time and just hasn't bothered to find me! I almost cry as I write these words. I still cannot believe it, she has been here since Wednesday, and Christian has been here since Sunday. I don't believe it. Saturday lunchtime they came to my hotel. What the hell was going on, why didn't they come before. I've been in such agony, just waiting, waiting, waiting. Now N says the same things the relationship and repets everything her mother has told her. She is two people.
Twice yesterday I went to La Boca, the port area, to talk to N. I couldn't help but keep making her aware of how much she hurt me, but it doesn't seem to worry her at all. I wanted to hurt her back, revenge. That is so bad. But it hurts so deep that she just couldn't be bothered to find me. How small I am, how unimportant, how valueless. If this is the sort of hurt that friends are going to give me all my life through, then I had better do something to guard against it.
In the evening we (four of us, including the 15 year old daughter of the family where N is staying) went to an overcrowded tango restaurant full of gauchy families, laughing and drinking. The police barged in and checked everyone's ID, but N's friend didn't have hers. They threatened to take her away. In the end, we convinced them that my roll-up tobacco was not grass, that we didn't have injection marks on our arms, that the girls didn't speak like prostitutes, and that really we were very respectable.
We all three agreed to take the train to Ascunsion on Tuesday it seems, but all the while the little grey burns were eating hurting between the ribs.
Lots of letters, and news of people: Annabelle became worried about me and went to my home to find news (she thought I might have been imprisoned in Argentina or something); Tudor is living a very quiet married life; Phil sent me Christmas greetings; Mum is not very happy; Julian played the lead role in his school play; Lizzie sent me a beautiful piece of batik.
Lunes 17 Enero, Buenos Aires
I have just washed a towel and a shirt. A little wind blows. The sky is cloudy. The ribbon around my head and my wet hair feel good. A fly names Charles annoys me with his repeated attempts to land on the bumpy ground of my left elbow. Every tap in the house drips (with different modes). Outside cars pass constantly. An occasional horn can be heard. Trains pass every 10 or 15 minutes.
Buenos Aires is an enormous, a great city. I have not seen a great city for a long time. If I walked northwest for half a day, I would find a large cemetery on the outskirts of the city. It would take me a day and a half to find the country if I walked southeast or northwest. If I walked northeast for two hours I would drown. In less than two months I will be in London. I am very afraid.
To whom am I writing. Will my reader know the writer. Shall I sign it Charles? (Have I killed him?) Broken match-sticks are strewn over the table. All the taps in the house drip. I have just washed a towel and a shirt. A little wind blows. The sky is cloudy.
Martes 18 Enero
Estamos bien. There is a long train journey in progress, The train that goes from B.A. to Ascunsion should take two days, to Posadas, the frontier town, it should take just over a day and a night. So far it is a strange train journey. Before 9 we were sitting in the bar drinking wine with two very sympatico Argentinos. We ran up and down the very long train, changing shirts, laughing like clowns. For two and a half hours, the train rode down the river in four parts (each part a barge with train tracks on).
Jueves 20 Enero, Ascunsion
THE HAIRY ARMPIT and THE PARAGUAY WELCOME
To travel on Argentinian trains, men must weear long trousers and cover up their armpits. I was told this when I got on the train, but I said I had no other tops. But then, in the restaurant car, I was told me again and this time I had to change. Later on in the journey, train inspectors started making quite a thing about my dress, but N championed the hairy armpit. Women have hairy armpits, but they don't have to cover up! Although we got nowhere with our reasoned arguments, nobody ever threw us off the train because we didn't cover up.
Somewhere around the middle of the hottest day that has ever been, the train stopped in Posadas, the frontier town with Paraguay. Being bored with the train, we decided to take to the road. We took a launch across a big wide river, but on the other side, some mighty officials pushed us to one side to a customs house. There we were told that Paraguay does not like hairy armpits, or mochilas, and therefore we must return to Argentina. We pleaded strongly for a while but then the officials got heavy and told us to 'da la vuelta' on the launch. I was stupefied. Never, but never have I been rejected from a border like that. We were stupid. We could have dressed better, then our pleading may have been more effective. So I found myself in Argentina for the fifth or sixth time, and it was too late to try and return that night.
It is monsoon type weather, very very hot with cloud bursts every now and again. I feel that mosquitoes are going to dive attack at any moment. N and I clashed all day, alternating between wanting to kiss and strangle each other. Christian spends all his money.
To backtrack a little to the last few days in Buenos Aires, when I slept on the floor at Christian's father's house. The man has a lonely sort of life, working hard and occasionally going to the cinema. He talks a lot about his travels and Europe. Christian and I went on a little paseo through San Telmo. A pale yellow advertisement attracted Christian's attention and we found ourselves at a concert - Bubu. Very fashionable people arrived and bought expensive tickets. We bought expensive tickets too but then sold them and paid a tenth of the price to get in after the concert had started. Bubu played a music obra which was interesting but very heavy - I felt that if I had known more about music I could have appreciated it more.
Sabado 22 Enero, San Bernadino
We bought two big bolsas made of plastic string and emptied all our clothes and the folded empty rucksacks into them. I put on a tie and N put on a dress. We went across the river again and smiled sweetly, and the customs officials smiled sweetly, and told us not to use the mochilas in Paraguay or else. What absolute locura. Nobody seems to recognise that mochilas are sold in Paraguay. And we have just met a lawyer in this small hostel who listened to our story with disbelief. He has two sons who are boy scouts and always travel around with mochilas. He bought us a beer. We heard news of other gringos ejected from Paraguay. David and Vicky had to return to B.A. to get Brazil visas, and another traveller was also forcibly removed for having a mochila. So, we marched with these two gigantic plastic bags between six hands. It was very uncomfortable, and the bags dragged on the ground making holes in the plastic.
Ascunsion feels and smells and looks smaller than any other capital in South America, but the hotels are expensive. N was sent out on a rich-house-with-air-conditioning-and-swimming-pool mission, and she didn't fail us. She found her relations who were willing, after a little, little talk, to take us in. Although there is no swimming pool, we are super-lucky: the senora feeds us well and doesn't ask difficult questions. The family has a cattle ranch many miles away and there's a radio link with it in the sitting room.
We are all good again. N has reconciled things a bit; Christian too. I am very happy to be with these two friends. We laugh a lot. Drink cerveza, and smoke.
The artesania here in Paraguay is gaudy bright and showy. There's some beautiful ceramic work and good leather. The mate cups are popular - we buy one. They are made of horn, some with tinny silver. We buy a bombonilla as well and mean to take mate for sustenance. There are a handful of buildings with more than ten stories, three or four first class hotels and not much else. On the street we find cheesy bread and sausages and watermelons.
Domingo 23 Enero
The money here is called Guarani, so is the language and the original people too. Apparently the Guarani were friendly to the Spanish conquistadors so colonisation was not too difficult. The country became independent in 1811. There were two main wars, involving disputes with Bolivia and Argentina over territory etc. but since Paraguay didn't offer very much Ascuncion remained a small outpost and the Paraguayan mestizo retained a very high percentage of indian blood. They are dark, sometimes tall, and generally they seem to be friendly, peaceful. It's a little strange to see such indian people in western clothes. The women have sharp facial features. On the whole, the country seems very poor, and small, there are only two or three million in the whole country. There is chaco and selva and perhaps oil, and lots of mate. There are also many pure bred indians some of whom exploit themselves for tourism.
Lunes 24 Enero, San Bernadino
It is Monday, it is very strange. The wind blows, strong leaves of trees and palms wave to the sky, big waves form and break in the black lake, it seems there is nobody in this village. A deserted village on an island. The world cannot exist. There is nobody else. We are such children. The moments change so quickly. The shutters on the window creak. The wooden doors creak. Christian has returned from a mystery tour. N lies on a bed and looks through my picture frame. The black lake is an enchantment. The black lake without life, without form accepts our bodies, a giant warm bath of grey water, yet it is enchanted in its lifelessness, in its shores, in its depths and shallowness. A bottle breaks. A distant whistle comes. Such strange little things happen. The wind is beautiful. Today we are praising the wind. There is so much room in the sky for patterns made by passing clouds. A lorry rumbles slowly past. Christian draws an old building without people. Sometimes mosquitoes come and buzz between the eyes, between the ears, between the balls. Sometimes giant frogs come, leaping through trees and making strange noises. Sometimes it is years that we are here; it has taken a part of our soul, this lake; and sometimes it is tomorrow we will go. Christian drew giant mushrooms that we ate for breakfast. Mushrooms and pineapple. Floating a little through the gold tops. When he has finished drawing more mushrooms we will eat them again.
I swam so much in the lake last night, with N and alone; so so rich the black lake in gentleness and warmth; and when I couldn't sleep I swam. And the black lake whispered to me that it was the same to sleep or swim or dream. On the pier I slept with enchanted life all around.
Sabado 29 Enero, Sao Paulo
Sometimes we are tired and to be friendly and thoughtful is difficult. It has been three very tiring days but with lots of joy. Maybe the undulations are only in me, but sometimes I see Christian staring at the wall with a worried look on his face. Sometimes when he blows smoke rings he can put on an evil face. N is like a child, naive or playing at innocence, she is happy because she has finally chosen to be 'amigos amantes'; she laughs and says 'but all relations go up and down'. I do not want Christian to leave us but he has become ill. He has an infection in his ear, which troubles him very much. He is taking drops and antibiotics; they make him weak and tired. It cost him a lot for the treatment, so I hope all is well and getting better. So much has passed since Monday. The whole of Brazil has hit us with a bang, we are stupid if we think we can ignore it.
The last night in San Bernadino passed peacefully by a fire with lots of cigarettes. Sunsets over the lake were quite startling. The sky is violent, mysterious and tropical. I swam towards the sunset to try and catch it before the whole world went black as the lake. And we watched the moon waver between clouds. I was silent for many hours and thought nothing, did nothing, just existed.
On Tuesday we decided to leave and head for Brazil. The day was hot and heavy. We hitched a little and took a bus. A peace corp worker said there were 60 working in Paraguay on agroeconomic schemes, all of them living in little villages where they grow beans and rice. Journeying was so tiring in hot humid weather, we smoked too much and talked little. Stroessner (a town named after the President who is really a dictator and has been for 20 years) seems to survive on Brazilian tourists who go to Foz to see Iguacu and then visit Paraguay to buy souvenirs and cigarettes. We had lots of Guaranis left, so spent them on beer and empanadas. The border was unbelievably busy and very slack. They didn't seem to like Chilenos very much so we had to wait for a while. Walking across the bridge I realised I was leaving Spanish-born culture land for the first time in nearly a year.
Brasil, Brasil, Brasil. The first thing one notices is that everyone is speaking a guttural and utterly foreign language. Portuguese. It is very close in structure to Castellano, in fact many words are the same and the rest are similar, but the pronunciation is very different - it is more complicated, more ancient than Spanish. Christian and N and I, for that matter, can make ourselves more or less understood. But whereas Christian and N and understand when they speak, I get nothing. The second thing one notices is the absolute mixture of peoples and races; there are all shades and sizes from black black to white yellow.
Foz da Iguacu is an ugly dirty town. It lies 20-30km from the falls, and a few km from the Paraguay border. It is full of hotels and restaurants, but the streets are dug up and full of rubbish. We installed ourselves in a hotel for 30 Cr but our room was smaller and hotter than an oven. A friendly joven befriended us and promised to take us to a church where we could sleep for free, idle away the evening soaking in impressions of Brazil or listening to some Paraguay folklorico with a hand harp. In the late evening, the joven took us to a large church where he said we could sleep beneath a covered courtyard. We thanked him profusely and began to spend a night fighting the mosquitoes and the heat. It was one very terrible night.
It is now Saturday lunchtime, I sit outside the closed city library of Sao Paulo with so many things to write if I want to record the days' impressions, and thoughts that have passed so quickly. Thoughts of home, of N and C, of Brazil, of the heat. It is difficult to organise all, to organise the passing shades.
Wednesday was dominated by the falls of Iguacu, one of the centres of tourism of South America and truly impressionante. It is so large, so magnificent. For a kilometre or more an enormous river breaks up and falls hundreds of feet in hundreds of different falls, different levels, different widths. It is a magnificent sight, completely natural. In the distance there's a catwalk across the still gently flowing upper river, it is the Argentine tourist route. It does not disturb the spectacle as much as the llamas at Machu Piccu. A peaceful gentle brown river flows above, and suddenly there is no more river bed, and it goes thrashing, thrushing, torrenting down in a brown and white froth sending out spray with the wind. Some tourists hire big yellow raincoats to get a better view of the devil's gorge. At the top we walk into the selva a few feet and sit on a big stone that rests in the river. The selva is alive with animals. Spiders, with their 3D webs stretched between trees and bushes. Iguanas, more than a foot long, crawl softly in the undergrowth. Endless coloured butterflies, suck the wet from the stones. There are black ones with patches of phosphorescent mauve. There are small ones with red, black and white line designs on the outside. There are enormous yellow and black ones. There are orange ones and yellow ones and white ones. All so beautiful. There are mosquito eggs wiggling in stone pools. There is a snail slowly pulling itself up out of the water. There are flies and ants and the enormous river flowing by. I wonder how I can ever be impressed by a little waterfall again.
We take the bus to Curitiba through the night.
CHRISTIAN'S EAR AND HOW WE BECAME MURDER SUSPECTS IN CURITIBA
Christian is ill, he has an infection of the ear. We go to some hospitals; at one we leave him to the bureaucracy of the medical system. We arrange to meet at 11:00am in a plaza. N and I eventually find a tourist office. They do not see many tourists so we are overloaded with information, post cards, even a board game 'to get to know Curitiba'. At 11 we meet Christian. We ask some policeman for some information. We stop to talk to a Brasileiro and then the police decide to take all four of us to a police station. We are a little insulted but don't cause trouble. In the police station, we are body searched; all our possessions are removed. Laboriously long forms are filled out and every personal item is listed. The money is counted scrupulously. The police are friendly, but we are suspects. We think we can go when they have finished, but no we have to wait while they phone headquarters. We are placed in cells. I start to ask to phone the British Consulate. After a while they try to bundle us into two police cars. They have armoured back seats. I am afraid for us. I start to protest and insist on phoning the British Consulate. They will not let me. Finally, I am forced in the car by two policemen. I have in mind untold horrible things that I know are possible. I am afraid for N. We are taken to the Centre of Investigations. There the same long forms are filled out again. Many policemen come and go, some with ugly greedy faces, some making jokes about how we look like terrorists. Once the forms are completed, we are locked in a room. It seems a policeman was killed by three Paraguayans yesterday, and when we spoke Spanish to the two cops in the Plaza they became suspicious. I am still afraid for us. The Brasileiro is cool and says the police do not lie. I sleep and have nightmares, and wake with a very bad headache. After three hours we are taken upstairs. Upstairs, there are secretaries, and people in suits coming and going. I am very relieved. Somebody gives me a pill for my headache. In 20 minutes we are out on the streets and very very relieved. Christian still has very bad face pain. We go finally to a hospital (to the one he had been told to go earlier in the day). He finds it is a private clinic and has to pay $20. He does not want to. We force him. A young doctor gives him a big painful injection and mountains of medicine. We play games for an hour in the shelter of the rain deciding what to do. Eventually we decide to take the bus back to Sao Paulo through the night. N and I kiss passionately on the bus.
Paul K Lyons
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