L O N G V A C S A N D L O S T C I T I E S I N L A T I N A M E R I C A
During three consecutive 'long vacs', of 1967, 1968 and 1969, I travelled by foot, bus, boat, train and plane through Latin America in search of the 'lost cities' of the Maya, Aztecs and Incas . My journeys took me through the forests of the Yucatan, over the mountains of the Andes and down the winding upper Amazon.
Half a century has passed while my diaries have sat unread in a box, along with maps, photos, coloured slides, postcards and letters. Opening the box my seventy-year-old self confronts my twenty-year-old self. Here is a treasure trove, a time capsule, belonging to another age, an age of paper and ink, of Kodachrome, of bumpy bus rides, flip-flops and long hair. It is another world, like looking through the wrong end of a telescope at a miniature, exquisitely detailed, luminously bright jewel, far away, long ago.
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.