A Rainbow for Rob over the City of Eternal Summer

July 23, 2006

You reached for the secret too soon, you cried for the moon.
Shine on you crazy diamond.
Come on you raver, you seer of visions, come on you painter, you piper,
You prisoner, and shine!

(Thanks to Pink Floyd for the lyrics to Shine on You Crazy Diamond)

I have untill seven pm before I have to catch the bus back to Urubamba, so I decide to visit the Seven Waterfalls and find a collectivo. A collectivo is a shared taxi, usually seating four people (cramped) in the back seat, two in the trunk and two in the front. However, if they are gorditos (little fatties) it´s quite a squash and probably not possible, or advisable.  Here, there is no PC-ness and people regularly refer to each other as gordo, or gordito, so I am also entering into the humour, if not the spirit, of these words. With seven of us, (each paying 2-3 soles), the driver is happy to take us on our way, even though it is prohibited, I believe, to carry two people in the trunk. But, many of the drivers prefer to take the chance – and the money – regardless of whether they may be stopped at a police control, asked for documentation and fined.

Once we are on our way, I can enjoy the tropical delights; the dust track, the banana and coconut plantations and the ambience. As I am not sure where I am going, I don´t know where to shout, Baja! (meaning I want to get off here), and after about forty minutes the car stops on the dirt track and the driver gets out. I wonder what is happening and then he motions and tells me that he has gone past the entrance to the waterfalls and that I will have to walk back down the path towards it. When I see the entrance, it is easy to see how one could miss it. The painted sign has seen better days. It is faded, covered in dust and marks the start of a narrow path winding its way beside an adobe hut. I follow my senses and the sounds of water and children playing and come across the waterfall and a Peruvian family and friends enjoying the icy water.

The waterfall is not as impressive as I had expected, but it is pretty, and I lap up the relative tranquility. Camera to hand, I spend most of my time watching butterflies and taking abstract photos of the water and water-worn stone as the sun hits and reflects of the shiny surfaces. Splashing my face under the penultimate of the seven mini waterfalls, I also smother myself in Jungle Formula and, when the family leave, I have the place to myself. That is until a woman, who I take to be the proprietess, wants the one sole entrance ticket fee from me. How can one be a proprieor of a waterfall, let alone seven? But she has heard me arrive and I oblige. Yet again, I consider how there is a price on almost everything, man-made or not. After a while, I decide to head back to town as I know I will have to flag down a collectivo, bus or even a truck and, being the newly-responsible traveller that I have become, I am not going to do my usual last-minute rush.

The next half an hour is spent with the Peruvian family waiting for someone to pick us up. Finally, a truck, which is laden with people, goods and all manner of bags and boxes, pulls up and the family board the back of the truck and I join them. The next forty minutes is a bumpy, dusty ride back along the same path but with the most spectacular view of the Rio Urubamba weaving its way beside us flanked by stupendous mountains and buzzard-like birds circling above. This is a highlight. I love the feel of the wind on my face, the smell of the jungle, the expressions on the people we pass and those on the truck as we navigate steep, windy, dirt tracks and waterfalls that cross the path. It´s bliss. It´s open and invigorating. I feel light as a feather and as though, if I were to dissolve into dust, I would just float away. Soon, we hit the outskirts of the town and an outdoor public swimming pool. We all descend and I pay my 2 and a half soles to the driver. I am not exactly sure where I am in relation to the centre of the town, but I follow my instinct, enjoying the warmth and the scenery.

I am thinking about so many things, but at this point, Rob is especially on my mind. For those of you who didn´t know him, Rob was a special person. I say was, as he died at the end of last year. Way too soon for me to come to terms with easily. Like Carlos before him, who died in 2000, I often talk to these friends in my head, especially when I am seeing or doing something I would like to share with them. I also send out thoughts and love in the hope that a little atom or residue of them may be with or around me. So, Rob – the crazy diamond – is in my thoughts as I walk towards the centre of town, not sure where I am heading but certain that it is, generally, the right direction. Then I see it and I stop in my tracks. An arco iris (a rainbow) has appeared and straddles the mountains and the town in the distance. It is wonderful, colourful and is light itself. All seven colours that make up white. I feel instantly connected to him in a way which is too subtle to explicate. This is Rob´s Rainbow and I revel in the light and the beauty of it. For a short while, I feel light myself. I think of Elsa, his parents and family, Cornelia, Ian, Jean-Marie and the Gang of Five of us that are now, after twenty-four years of friendship, four. I say a little prayer and walk on towards the town and my return bus journey which will take me back to the Sacred Valley and another Arco Iris – the school where I am volunteering. It´s the end of yet another chapter and what is happening on a physical level is, in some ways, matched by an internal journey.

Hasta la vista, baby!

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2 Responses to “A Rainbow for Rob over the City of Eternal Summer”

  1. elsa said

    dear miranda,
    thank you for your text today. i understand that the rainbow made you connect to rob, it is a very special phenomenon. the bridge between our world and his, the bridge that both separates from and connects us to him. rob and i were both in silent awe everytime we saw a rainbow together. in norse mythology the rainbow is called “bifrost” and represents the bridge between our world and the heaven/home of the gods. although rob is in the underworld/helheim now, i think a part of him resides in heaven as well… and there he continues to shine on like a crazy diamond. i also think of the rainbows curve as a part of the circle of life, which helps me (if even just a tiny bit at the moment…) to think that what happened to rob and to us who loved him is a part of the natural circle of life (as rob thought of it). the way of life, although a cruel way…

    yes, miri, i would like to meet you somewhere in europe later on this year. sometimes i rest in that thought, and it gives me comfort.

    a lot of love to you and a wish for all the colours and the light from “bifrost” to stay within you from elsa.

  2. miranda said

    Hej Elsa, t
    Thanks for your comment and words about bifrost. I shall also seek comfort in the rainbow as I have, for many reasons, been feeling somewhat strange. Being apart from those I know and who understand me, I have had to draw on an inner strength as well as Rob’s letter to me, which I brought with me on my travels. In the darker times, when the white light and the rainbow have receded into the distance I read, and re-read, his letter. It helps me get through some of the sadness I have been feeling… life is pretty tough out here for people and though the children, in both centres, are able to shower one with open, unmitigated affection, their lives are far from easy and I feel for them.
    I sat in with the speech therapist today and thought of you and your work and how it must be. I took photos for the centre and have found that all the kids, bar none, in either centre, mind having their photo taken. In fact they seem to revel in it, and the immediacy of digital is a great factor in contributing to how they respond… I keep thnking how much I could do with photography, on almost an art therapy level, so many ideas I just need the time and finance to realise some of this.
    I am thinking of you and sending you all the colours in the rainbow as a massive cyber hug arcing its way to yuou. Yes, we will take a trip together, somewhere where we can simply enjoy being… all love Mirixxxx

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