Sunday, December 3, 1995

Paracas, II, first draft

Paracas, II

I have stood in the deserts where it has never rained in living memory, where the ancients brought water from miles away in canals. Snowmelt from the Andes made this desert bloom a thousand years ago, but the Cordilleras grew up to the sky, taking the fertile plains with them, until the water flowed backwards. 

I have climbed the skeletons of ancient cities, on man-made mountains, where strange crows flew to the center of the labyrinth. I have hiked into the heart of the Inca Empire. 

I have been to Sacsayhuaman, the panther of the Milky Way slept there. The red ocher on the walls. I have stood on the Masada at Cerro Baul, where there was a siege of 50 days. No water forced a surrender. 

Why was Chan Chan deserted like all the other citadels along this coast? When the Spanish came? All the deserted terraces lying fallow for 500 years, the desert endures the confession of stone. 

I have carried the red rocks back from Nazca where they have lain undisturbed for centuries, staring up into that forever sky for millennia on end, while the constellations orbited into the Aquarian age. Who knows how long the erosion chewed on their rock faces, the undersides, smooth from river polishing? This place that hasn't seen a river flow in the millennia. 

Skulls and bones have lain here undisturbed for a thousand years. Llama bones and scraps of burial shrouds. The ceremonial death ritual to ensure life. 

Climbing the metal water tower on the Pan-American Highway, we view the necropolis. Chen Chen was already in decline when the Incas invaded Chimo the remains of hundreds of young women in the burial bed of the king. God Kings of Chan Chan. 

Coastal desert reed boats on the Pacific. Where do you find water in the desert where it never rains? Green jewels on cliff edges In the Moche Valley.

I stood at the top of this ancient pyramid at Huaca del Sol, abandoned canals 2500 years old. The the inter valley canal, once fed by a river 60 miles, away was built in 1100 A.D. There are hundreds of canals and river valleys here, they used the water to measure the degree of slope. I've walked down those dry canal beds, with their sophisticated hydraulics on par with the Great Wall of China and the Egyptian pyramids, as a great ancient engineering feat.

Meanwhile the land rose like a budding tooth. 

El Niño in 1983, flooded this region; 50 feet above the valley floor there is a flood line with freshly eroded bricks above it. The taxi driver tells us of the flooding of El Niño, he said that the Pan-American Highway was underwater. 

I'm reminded of the pink flamingos at Titicaca, on the altiplano, the giant Andean coots and grebes, the shell middens like giant chess figures dotted the landscape on this rapidly receding coastline where one coastal uplift of 60 feet at a time, combined with a deluge of rain, forever altered the landscape. 

The orange and red Peruvian buses with their white stripes like a reflecting mirror shining on the desert into these opposite shores. 

I've stood in dry riverbeds, and I have been the raw scarred banks, decades after the deluge. All those skulls staring out to sea, refusing to stay buried, as if the sea held all the answers.

Only now, after seven years, every cell in my body having replaced itself, but what about my hair? Surely my hair hasn't replace itself, for it is longer than seven years growth. 

On the temple of the moon above Machu Picchu I wanted to leave something of myself behind for my dead grandmother and so I cut off a chunk of my hair and left a quartz rock from home at the top of the moongate. 

December 3, 1995 (from my journal)

See Letter to Luis Kong, from the Necropolis, Paracas 1988


(Was this another attempt at writing about Paracas? At one point, I had two different pieces and conflicting dates. ASCII messed with them, leaving them orphaned, and without an ending. I think I folded them in together. But there is new info here. )

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