Through the Bars

Barranco, Peru. Barranco means ravine in Spanish. It’s a seaside city overlooking the Pacific ocean. The fog is thick sometimes, especially in the mornings. Despite the ocean, the city technically sits in a desert; shop owners are always sweeping at the dust with long palm leaves, trying to keep the desert at bay.

Three years I’ve lived here, and I’m still foreign. I get tangled in the tiny streets, lured down alleys by bright Spanish tiles, turned about among the pastel mansions, pinks, blues, yellows.

And lately, I’ve gotten drawn in by the ironwork.

It makes me want to write a diary-style narrative: One laid out by a curious traveller. Somebody who records the events of each day in isolated entries, unknowingly writing his own demise.

The diary, moleskin, could be found along a rocky shoreline? At the base of a lighthouse, maybe? Or it could be tucked away in the dim corner of a cabinet at an old house, left behind, spine swollen from the humid air…

September 21, 1994
Day 2 at the Red Hotel, Barranco

[ . . . ] but in this seaside city, why so much wrought iron? Come evening, almost every house has its elaborate gates up. Every window is shielded by these swirling metal guards.

I tried asking if an artisan makes the decorative gates and window bars, but homeowners shooed me away. Got to improve my Spanish. The gentleman with the fruit cart might be a better candidate. He parks his cart in front of a building with several beautiful examples. Plus if I buy a few chirimoyas, he might be more patient.

It’s strange. All the effort it must take to have such intricate barriers. Like the residents are hoping to entangle something before it reaches the glass. [ . . . ]



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