A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.




 

The Real Life Of Alejandro Mayta
Monday, September 27, 2010



A morning jog along the Malecón de Barranco, when the dew still hangs heavy in the air and makes the sidewalks slippery and shiny, is just the way to start off the day. Even in the summer, the sky is gray, because the sun never shines on this neighborhood before ten. The fog blurs the edge of things – the profiles of sea gulls, the pelican that flies over the broken line of the cliffs that run along the sea. The water looks like leas, dark green, smoking rough, with patches of foam. The waves form parallel rows as they roll in, and sometimes a fishing boats bounces over them. Sometimes a gust of wind parts the clouds, and out in the distance La Punta and the ocher islands of San Lorenzo and El Frontón materialize. It’s beautiful, as long as you concentrate on the landscape and the birds, because everything man-mde there is ugly.

Chapter 1, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta (La Historia de Mayta, 1984) by Mario Vargas Llosa




The houses are ugly, imitations of imitations. Fear, in the shape of gates, walls, sirens, and spotlights, suffocates them. Television antennas form a ghostly forest. Ugly, too is the garbage that piles up on the outer edge of the Malecón and spills down its face, Why is it that this part of the city- which has the best view is a garbage dump?




I’m looking for Mayta, does he know where I might find him?

He’s a respectable-looking guy, dressed relatively well. He listens without asking any questions. But I see that he has doubts, and I’m sure he’s not going to tell me anything. I ask him to give Mayta my telephone number, the next time he sees him.

Suddenly he decides. “He works in an ice-cream parlor,” he says. “In Miraflores.”




It’s a small ice-cream parlor which has been there for many years. It’s on Bolognesi Street, a street I know very well because when I was a kid I knew a beautiful girl who lived there. She had the improbable name of Flora Flores. I’m sure the ice-cream parlor was there then and I went in with the beautiful Flora Flores to have a sundae. It’s and unusual place for a street where there are no stores, only the typical Miraflores houses: two stories, front lawn, the inevitable geraniums, bougainvillea, and poincianas with big red flowers. I have an attack of nerves as I turn off the Malecón onto Bolognesi. Yes, it’s exactly where I remember it, a few steps away from the gray house with balconies, where Flora’s sweet face and incandescent eyes would appear. I park a short distance away from the ice-cream parlor, but I can barely get the key out of the ignition, because I’ve suddenly become jittery.

“Alejandro Mayta,” I say, stretching my hand. “Right?”

He looks at me for a few seconds and smiles, opening a mouth not overpopulated by teeth. He blinks trying to remember me. Finally he gives up.

Chapter 10, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta by Mario Vargas Llosa




I’m still thinking about the garbage in Mayta’s slum when on the left I see Lurigancho in the distance and I remember the mad naked inmate sleeping on the immense garbage heap in front of the odd-numbered cell blocks. And shortly afterward, when I am all the way across Zárate and Plaza de Acho and I’m on Avenida Abancay, on the road that takes me to Vía Expresa, San Isidro, Miraflores, and Barranco, I can already imagine the seawalls in the neighborhood where I have had the good fortune to live, and the garbage you see – I’ll see it myself tomorrow when I go running – if you crane your neck and peek over the edge. The garbage dump that the cliffs facing the sea have become. And I’ll remember that a year ago I began to concoct this story the same way I’m ending it, by speaking about the garbage that’s invading every neighborhood in the capital of Perú.

Chapter 10, The Real Life of Alejandro Mayta by Mario Vargas Llosa




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Previous Posts
La Ciudad Y Los Perros

The Farm, The Rocket & The New Studio

To Speak In Verse - A Tertulia Over Tea

Our Chevrolet Malibu & Harvey Southam's Buick Stat...

Postcards Revisited - The Pleasure of Anticipation...

The Process

La Rutina

Sierra Ventana, Monte Altai & The Rocket

Getting Sloshed With Greta Scacchi In My Fall Gard...

Johnny Tomorrow - Awe & Wonder



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5/1/16 - 5/8/16

5/8/16 - 5/15/16

5/15/16 - 5/22/16

5/22/16 - 5/29/16

5/29/16 - 6/5/16

6/5/16 - 6/12/16

6/12/16 - 6/19/16

6/19/16 - 6/26/16

6/26/16 - 7/3/16

7/3/16 - 7/10/16

7/10/16 - 7/17/16

7/17/16 - 7/24/16

7/24/16 - 7/31/16

7/31/16 - 8/7/16

8/7/16 - 8/14/16

8/14/16 - 8/21/16

8/21/16 - 8/28/16

8/28/16 - 9/4/16

9/4/16 - 9/11/16

9/11/16 - 9/18/16

9/18/16 - 9/25/16

9/25/16 - 10/2/16

10/2/16 - 10/9/16

10/9/16 - 10/16/16

10/16/16 - 10/23/16

10/23/16 - 10/30/16

10/30/16 - 11/6/16

11/6/16 - 11/13/16

11/13/16 - 11/20/16

11/20/16 - 11/27/16

11/27/16 - 12/4/16

12/4/16 - 12/11/16

12/11/16 - 12/18/16

12/18/16 - 12/25/16

12/25/16 - 1/1/17

1/1/17 - 1/8/17

1/8/17 - 1/15/17

1/15/17 - 1/22/17

1/22/17 - 1/29/17