Pajaro forever


Perhaps no love is strong enough to get through the whole life. But it seems that we do not have anything else which could withstand life, but love. Wieslaw Myśliwski

The last few days I spent in the backyard of Vladimir Vallega’s property – the man who pulled me out of a very bad mood, or, literally, out of a roadside ditch, where a few days earlier I was lying with a fever, and a piercing pain of my muscles and kidneys. 

I met Vladimir next to his restaurant called Portena. When I asked him if he didn’t know where the nearest clinic was, he took off his red apron, closed just a minute earlier opened premises and took me to the doctor. The visit, along with medicines, cost the equivalent of one hundred dollars. It turned out that I came at the very last moment, anyway, that’s what the doctor said. I got inflammation of the urinary tract, but now, after a few days of resting, generally everything is quite all right.

After a visit, we went back to the restaurant. I ate three pupusas (pancakes with cheese and meat), which almost burst my stomach. Firstly, Vladimir suggested that I should go to the nearest hotel, but when he realised what my budget for the trip was – he changed his mind, and suggested the roof of the  restaurant. The roof was a really great place, but the idea of converting it into a cosy apartment did not please the police, so the next day I moved to the Vladimir’s house, or, actually, the backyard of his property.

Apart from the restaurant Portena, Vladimir leads a second, similar place – on the ground floor of his house. This second restaurant is a typical comedor, where, for very little money (in Salvador, the currency is American dollar) you can eat decent breakfast or substantial lunch. The comedor is a family business. Vladimir’s wife works here, along with their children, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles.

Ali and Junior, Vladimir’s children, do not go to school. They learn at home, and have private tutors. At the end of the year they take one, all-year exam at school. Textbooks for learning are printed in Honduras, where “home” way to educate children is more common than it is in Salvador. Junior is fourteen years old, and speaks fluent English with a very good accent.

The members of the family live together in a big house, which stands in the middle of the market area. At the very early morning, the market starts to be full of the hustle and bustle, which doesn’t fade until late afternoon. It also hosts the bus station and it is a place where one may purchase various types of livestock. People sit there on the streets, occupy every bit of any availalbe space, every piece of a valuable shade.

There are plenty of people, but shaded seats maybe a dozen. Who is lucky enough, and owns such a precious spot, does not move an inch from it, even when a careless bus driver runs over a basket filled with bananas and watermelons, or a wheelbarrow full of husked beans. Such clumsy actions cause huddle unheard of, which ends only with blasts of firecrackers shot by the police, meticulously guarding the market.

Those who didn’t succeed in getting a shady spot, apply different methods of getting their way. They don’t sit in one place, but move all the time; from gate to gate, from alley to alley, sniffing and looking at all imaginable places where they could find a potential client. From a wide range of products available, analgesics dominate (Ladies and gentlemen! For one, only one dollar, wonderful pills for everything! Diarrhea, headache, teeth, sinuses, muscles, arthritis, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, for one dollar you may get rid of all your health problems!), but among other odds and ends, which are being sold, you may also find belts, shirts, Colgate toothpaste, watches, detergents, cosmetics, everything just for one dollar.

I’ve never seen anyone buying anything from these people, and yet, with some dull stubbornness, or maybe just a sheer desperation, each day they enter the same places, with the same genuine smile on their faces and the same sort of confidence, praising crappy products as if they hadn’t been at all doing that for weeks or months, and perhaps years, but it was their first, new day at work, when one is still able to muster (even if fake) admirable enthusiasm.

Vladimir wants me to stay longer, but I have a queer feeling that I am resting too long, I do not want to abuse the hospitality, and, after all, I can not sit still at the table, lingering under the Canadian flag, looking blankly at moving out, kaleidoscopic images .

One should not detonate a bomb in someone’s heart by the ocean, writes a friend of mine. Probably she was right, or maybe not, I do not know. Maybe I deserved what had happened, maybe whatever I would have done, and no matter how much I would have tried – it was inevitable, anyway. I can not give immortality to anyone or anything. Mortal I am, like a white mouse, which is an object of experience of time.

I’m going towards the border, the ride did not do me well, so I decided to spend the night in the hostel. I had a strange dream. I dreamed that I woke up. I was lying on the ground in a stuffy, dark room that was slowly filling up with lights and sounds. There were some people around me but I could not recognize who they were, and all I could see were a few dark silhouettes. They were talking something to me, in a whisper, which slowly thickened and eventually turned into a light buzz. I stood up and raised my head. Millions of butterflies were flying through a big hole in the roof. There were so many of them that I could nearly hear the flutter of their wings.

I wanted to lift, soar into the air, fly away with them, but I could not raise, I could not move. I wanted to scream, but the voice faded in my throat. Someone shouted: Come on, get up, go on, finish your trip!, someone else: Pull yourself together! and yet: Start enjoying life, get up, fly! But maybe nobody screamed, and it was only me, dreaming a bad dream, because life is just a dream, dreaming by a shade, so maybe it was just my own ego crying, bouncing off from the vivid figures that were deepening the circle, approaching me inexorably, and soon I was about to be covered by their more and more shining and penetrating light …

Thanks for all of you, for your kind words. There’s nothing wrong going on. Everything what is happening, is happening just in my head, so, in fact, actually it does not exist. There is no cosmic solitude, no headaches, no sorrow and no bad thoughts. It will all pass, the wings will grow back, I just need a little rest.

I’m not going back, I will go on. Devoided of any hope and illusions, I do not have to hurry anywhere now. I need some space and air. That’s all I need, a little bit of space and some fresh air. After all, I am a wandering bird. And what she loved in me, was a bird. Txori nuen maite.



Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop illusions. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something De Mello Anthony

A new cat came in sight. A red one, I do not pay attention to the rest. I do not know why I pay special attention just to red cats, it’s hard to say. Maybe, because my grandfather was a redhead and I got a reddish beard from him? But, truly, he wasn’t quite a readhead, but my grandmother would call him that way. My grandfather also was like Snufkin, so to speak. He was rarely at home, but, in contrast to me, almost all his life he would move in a circle with a radius of not more than five miles. He knew its every corner, he would say that it was the whole universe. Although he passed away not such a long time ago, I do not remember the timbre of his voice. I wish I had talked to him more, when there still was time for that. Where has this redhead gone again! – my grandmother’s cry reverberated from above the cooking pots – Go, look for him and call him for dinner! So I ran into the woods to look for my grandfather, and didn’t come back until evening.

But I was supposed to be talking about cuddling! So, I met a new red-haired cat. Just in case, I was not too nice to him, hugged him just a little and not with such an affection as the previous one, because I could have tamed this one, too (as the Little Prince did with his rose) and I would only cause more trouble, though probably of different sorts, because it was a male cat.

I met a cat on my birthday, in a Salvadoran village called Mizapa, in a house of Vega family, whose one member invited me to dinner that night, fed, watered and sang Colombian songs of Oscar Agudelo. Frankly speaking, there was just one song, sung over and over again, a Colombian hit, La cama vacía.

Salvadorians were supposed to cut off my head, rape me, rob me, gut me, and in the best case – just to give gringo a decent thud, lest it occurred to him that he couldn’t ride so carelessly and freely, in his tight clothes, with a stupid smile and a red beard, on a far too conspicuous bike.

These warnings gave me people in Guatemala. In contrast, I heard similar stories in Mexico – but they were about Guatemalans and their sublime methods of tormenting gringos. We are good people, Mexicans would say, but when you get to Guatemala, no longer will you be able to ride your bike so carelessly, and to put up your tent wherever you meet the night.

The first impression after crossing the border between Mexico and Guatemala – there was more of everything: people, smells, fruits, comedores – roadside restaurants, but also there was far more noise and traffic on the road, holes in the asphalt, garbage. I liked the notes and the original name of the currency – Quetzal, attributed to the name of bird of paradise, which in the pre-Columbian mythology was a symbol of freedom and beauty.

The first night in Guatemala I spend in the yard of pastor Vilar, who, without batting an eyelid on my question, Do you know any good, safe place for camping?, responded: I’m inviting you to my house, the whole family will be delighted. A nice evening ended only when my knackered body almost fell out of the plastic chairs under the table. The next few days looked nearly the same. Such warmth, hospitality and willingness to help I haven’t experienced for a long time.

Andrzej Bobkowski, a Polish writer, spent his last days In Guatemala. This time I could not, or maybe I just did not want to look for traces left by him. I went to trace my own path.