Sunday, September 10, 2006

feverish wanderlust

for some reason, watching a pretty bad movie last night has touched a nerve and i am filled with longing for the grimy colonial streets and soaring andean vistas of south america.

the movie was "the dancer upstairs". it tried to describe the drama surrounding the shining path guerrila movement in the 80's and what it felt like to be in lima. the central character was a detective attempting to find the leader behind the violent attacks and terror tactics.

the feeling of latin american culture was completely absent. the characters didn't have any peruvianness to them. they seemed like americans who were cluelessly bungling around peru not even pretending to be locals. i usually am not one to find fault with movies but this one failed completely at least in its portrayal of what it feels like to be in peru. i guess it wouldn't be such a big deal if movies set in south america weren't so rare.

so what was it that sparked this melancholy & longing to be back? let me try to put a finger on it. glimpses of those beautiful mountains and the loneliness of the landscape. the sense of tragedy and history that pervades. the very recent political turbulence. the reality that the story is still unfolding. the sense of urgency and excitement and unpredictability when the lights go out, your bus is stopped at an army checkpoint, or when strikes shut down cities for days.

i like the fact that the knowledge is on the street. that the best way to find out what is going on is to ask the person next to you. it's easier than trying to look things up online or in a book. the knowledge isn't always terribly reliable, but it's fresh, and eventually you get the story straight.

i'm aching to be back there, feeling my way through the chaotic, colorful, people-thronged streets. making my way across an unreliable, lovely continent. light and free, with only a bag on my back and the rattling busses under foot.

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