My memory is a failing thing. When I was getting my degree in zoology long ago, I realized I didn't like to memorize which was practically all that we did in undergraduate classes. We memorized formulas, reactions, classifications, Latinate names, physiology. . . . I just wanted to be Jacques Cousteau and swim with the little fishes.
It was good for me, though, the training I went through to get that diploma. I had to learn some degree of self-discipline. It was the only type of discipline I would ever take, really. I am not the herding kind.
Now when I think back on my life, it is mostly impressionistic. It is a blur and a smear of experiences and emotions. I often get dates and details wrong. This weekend, I was sending some images to my art dealer. I was going through some old hard drives and came across a cache of scanned images from my trip to Peru in. . . oh. . . I believe it was 1981 or '82 or '83. I told her that it was 1985, but I realize now that was the summer I spent in Spain and France, and my trip to Peru was several years before that. I was there for five weeks--I DO remember that. And I went with Brando who had two travel groups meeting him there. But the groups were small. Tiny. Like four people each. It was not a time to travel to Peru, but I didn't know that and he wasn't advertising it. The year we were there, (whatever year it was) the State Department declared it the most dangerous country for travel in the world. Given the terrorist activities in the Middle East that year (whichever one it was), that was a mighty claim. The Shining Path/Sendero Luminoso had taken over entire cities and were ruthless in their killings. Lima was under Marshall Law, armed soldiers patrolling day and night. Within the first week we were there, the train our group was taking to Machu Pichu was bombed.
But that is only backstory. What I was showing the art dealer were pictures I had taken during some primitive festival I found myself in. I was alone in a small village the name of which I can't remember. Even looking at a map now, I can't remember. But was I alone? Where were the others? Why would I have been there? Perhaps it was between groups. I have photos of Brando with a blonde I scarcely remember sitting on the curb of a street in some plaza. Perhaps he and I had taken a bus together to this town. Perhaps he had met this woman, and I had wandered off on my own. I don't know. The memory is distorted as if I had taken some ancient herb, the sights and sounds swelling and receding, objects becoming larger then smaller to a soundtrack that plays in the distance through carnival loudspeakers. All I know is that I got caught up in some fantastical, primitive parade of dancers in hideous masks and musicians with flutes and harps and accordions and violins playing wild, ancient tunes while others portaged strange religious effigies through the streets.
I don't know how long we marched, but eventually we made our way to the main plaza, and then into a church.