Beyond the Silver River. South American Encounters by Jimmy Burns

By Jimmy Burns

During the 5 years Jimmy Burns used to be established in Buenos Aires, which ended in his award-winning learn of the Falklands conflict and its aftermath, The Land That misplaced Its Heroes, he additionally launched into further-flung trips in Argentina, in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. 'Each South American nation is idiosyncratic - it brings out our person fantasies and forces us to interpret anew,' writes Burns. definitely to go back and forth with him is to track the footprints of heritage - conquest and subjugation, defiance and wish - but to come across at every one flip a clean statement, the unforeseen. He conducts us through steam teach up the Andes and right down to the treacherous depths of a Bolivian tin mine. we discover a hotbed of Argentine loyalties in Tierra del Fuego, shorelines of our bodies attractive in Brazil and Peruvian streets the place fanatical Sendero Luminoso guerrillas salary an enduring strength fight with the army. Burns introduces us to Sixto Vázquez, Indian highbrow with an unshakeable...

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The third was filled with vegetables, green bottles and an effigy of the devil. Pasted up on the walls were calendars, charts, pictures of Indians fishing, hunting and cooking, but mostly photocopies of newspaper articles written by Sixto. Pinned to one of them was a photograph of Sixto dressed in a white pyjama suit (one of the Indian festive suits, he told us later) and standing next to two very American-looking travellers in khaki shorts and fat-soled walking shoes. That afternoon Sixto drove us in his old Dodge up into the hills.

It deepened the paranoia that had stimulated the urge for travel in the first place. Kidge, along with the other English teachers at her school, a few days later caught a boat across the River Plate to temporary exile in Uruguay. I was left thinking more and more of the ‘madness, melancholia, and panic fear’ which Graham Greene has noted as inherent to the human condition and for which travel, as much as the act of writing, provides a form of therapy. I vowed that once Galtieri had been defeated and I had been reunited with Kidge, we would begin where we had left off, in search of South America, beyond the silver river.

With their sloping tiles, grilled black windows, and sturdy Mozarabic arches, the churches and government offices reminded us of Andalucía. We lingered in the cathedral, with its huge, late baroque altar defiantly resisting the advent of more humble times, and contemplated the sacred images of Christ and the Virgin which, so legend has it, had saved Salta from being destroyed in an earthquake in the seventeenth century. We stopped by the eighteenth-century convent of San Bernardo with its elaborate and massive wooden portal, and gazed up at the tower of San Francisco, believed to be the tallest in South America.

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