Sunday, June 5, 2011


A curandero is a traditional Mexican folk healer and during my stays there I have twice gone to them for treatment, and in each case the experience was entirely unremarkable.  In both instances the fellow was straight-forward and business-like and there was not a whiff of mumbo-jumbo. They did not blow smoke or wave a lizard over the afflicted member.  It resembled nothing so much as the chiropractic.  Of course, they may have simply been responding to how they sized me up and had they been treating some more traditional sort of patient there might have been smoke and lizard-waving.

"The finest bridge in all Peru . . ."

On a shelf of used books I saw a thin copy of Thorton Wilder’s The Bridge of San Luis Rey.  I took it down and opened it to read that wonderful opening line:

“On Friday noon, the 20th of July, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travellers into the gulf below.”
One of the great opening lines of literature, or such it is to my taste.  It combines the precise exactness of time and date with the expansiveness of “the finest bridge in all Peru . . .”, the sort of phrase that might have been translated from another, more gracious language.  It would have been a fine beginning for a travel book.

I am sure if I went there today I would find a poorly maintained modern cement span off which overcrowded buses and trucks regularly precipitate their travellers into the gulf below. 

No comments:

Post a Comment