We, this motley crew of idealists, ambitious people, adventurers, those with social resentments, even common criminals followed Melquíades deep into the Hawaiian rainforest where he unearthed a suit of fifteenth century armor which had all of its pieces soldered together with rust. Four or five men from the expedition managed to take the armor apart and they found inside a calcified skeleton with a copper locket containing a woman’s hair around its neck.
Exhausted by rigors of the hike and swelter of the jungle, we hung up our hammocks and slept deeply for the first time in two weeks. When we woke up we were speechless with fascination, because before us, surrounded by ferns and palm trees, was an enormous Spanish galleon.
Propped up in the captain's chair was Úrsula, a merry, foul-mouthed and provocative woman, sitting there like a goddamned sultana of Persia. In her calloused and dirty hands was a gold crucible. One of the other white people in our group asked her what was in it.
Úrsula would weep as if she was reading the letters that had never arrived and in which José Arcadio told about his deeds and misadventures. “And there was so much of a home here for you, my son”, she would sob, “and so much food thrown to the wild pigs”. But underneath it all, she could not conceive that the boy the gypsies took away was the same lout who would eat half a suckling pig for lunch and whose flatulence withered the flowers.
Along with those items, Melquíades left samples of the seven planets, the formulas of Moses and Zosimus for doubling the quantity of gold, and a set of notes and sketches concerning the processes of the Great Teaching that would permit those who could interpret the Sanskrit to undertake the manufacture of the philosopher’s stone.
They were enamored by the same impermeability of affection. It was the price of their freedom, freeing them from a compromise that they had accepted not so much out of obedience as out of convenience. Melquíades and Angela had both dug deep into their hearts, searching for the strength that would allow them to survive the misfortune of this family and they discovered a reflective and just rage within each of them.
The villagers, the volunteers and even José Arcadio did not pay any attention because they thought it was some new trick of the gypsies, coming back with their whistles and tambourines and their age old and discredited song and dance about the qualities of some concoction put together by a journeyman genius of Jerusalem.
Angela and Melquíades remained shut up in the room below deck, absorbed in the parchment, which they were slowly unravelling and whose meaning, nevertheless, they were unable to interpret. Úrsula would bring slices of Virginia ham and sugared flowers which left a spring like after taste in their mouths and on many occasions bottles of fine wine. At times they really seemed to get along splendidly.
The final protection that Melquíades had employed was the fact that he had not put events in the order of man’s conventional time, but had concentrated a century of daily episodes in such a way that they coexisted in one instant. The deciphering taught us that the history of the galleon village was a machine with unavoidable repetitions, a turning wheel that would have gone on spilling into eternity if not for the storm.
The galleon village was already a fearful whirlwind of dust and rubble being spun about by the wrath of the biblical hurricane when Angela skipped eleven pages, so not to lose time with facts that she knew only too well. Amidst the apocalyptic funnel of debris, Angela began to decipher the instant that she was living, deciphering it as she, as we, lived it.
I said I would drive the rental car back from Waipi’o Valley and she would take the train back to give her some time to mull things over. The least I could do after all this was buy her a ticket back to Hilo. I dropped her with one small backpack at the old deserted banana train depot.
the chimerical negroes in the cotton fields of Louisiana, the winged horses in the bluegrass of Kentucky, the Greek lovers in the infernal sunsets of Arizona and the girl in the red sweater painting water colors by a lake in Michigan who waved at her with her brushes, not to say farewell but out of hope, because she did not know that she was watching a train passing by with no return.
This Tedism, as usual, was inspired on one end, plagiarized on the other, by two books. I had started One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez several times since high school and only now did I have the time and temperament to finish it. Add to the mix my imagination, Hawaii, felonious artistic license and bits and pieces culled from The Death of the Great Spirit, An Elegy for the American Indian by Earl Shorris and voila! I present One Strange Camping Trip. Do yourself a fucking favor and google: Horace, philosopher's stone, daguerreotype, Isaac the Blindman, Herman the Cripple, Zosimos, the SS Victor Hugues and course, per omnia secula seculorum. A Hui Hou and aloha Angela and thanks for the time you took for the trip and hence great pictures. I hope this whole experience has not created any permanent psychological damage...it really was kinda freaky.