Gold Museum was an apt venue for the launching
of a new book by Carlos Torres last Friday evening.
Among the pre-Columbian gold and ceramic treasures
exhibited inside Carlos unveiled something perhaps
even more valuable: an anthology of Andean myths
and legends that Carlos researched over many
years, condensed into seven short stories and
presented in this his first volume, titled Un
Solo Circulo Un Solo Recorrido: Cuentos Inspirados
en Textos Nativos Americanos. It translates
as 'Only a Circle Only a Journey: Inspired Stories
in Native American Texts'.
A small but enthusiastic audience gathered to
witness the launch, and were presented with
photos and passages featured in the book, projected
from a laptop computer onto the auditorium wall.
Torres' softly spoken, almost poetic delivery
of his synopsis was accompanied by the haunting
music from Eyes Wide Shut.
Thirty-eight years old, Torres is a native of
Bogota who has worked as a teacher in Brazil,
the Dominican Republic and now in Cartagena,
explained that the written and oral traditions
of the Andean natives did not die out with the
Conquest. Many Andean tribes did not see a European
face until as recently as 1935, when missionaries
finally contacted the most remote regions. As
Betty Osorio, Director of Literature at the
Universidad de los Andes, writes in the prologue,
the importance of these legends and myths is
often underestimated; they connect the ancient
people with the present, and the distant people
with the people close by. By reading them one
can gain a better interpretation of these people's
religion, history, laws and how they viewed
their own place in the universe.
the book, Torres uses the metaphor of a canoe
to represent the flow of stories over the Andes
and down to the Amazon region. His principle
aim in writing the book was to ensure that these
legends are recorded and accessible to the next
generation; his book has been approved as a
textbook at Colegio Britanico. The stories were
gathered from the Peruvian Andes, north-eastern
Amazonas and the region of Tierradentro in Cauca.
Especially interesting is the Taki Oncoy verse,
recounting the fall of Atahualpa, the last Inca
"Hombres de densa lana todos rojos, venían por
encima del mar en navíos de hierro..."
"Men in thick wool all red, came above the ocean
in ships of iron..."
Torres weaves some poetic rhythm into the myths,
such as this, the closing passage:
"Los huacas, entonces, retornaron de las tinieblas
y purificaron los cuerpos para sentir las estrellas
en sus ojos y cosmos bajo su piel, como antaño."
The tomb-spirits, then, returned the darkness
and purified the bodies so they could feel the
stars in their eyes and the cosmos beneath their
skin, like long ago.
De nuevo se amaba ajenos a la "vergüenza"
De nuevo se oían los secretos de las aguas
De nuevo la sonrisa afloró
Aunque sólo sea por un instante...
The kindness of the innocent against the
guilty is renewed
The secrets of the waters again are heard
The smile again comes to the surface
Although it will only be for an instant...
Un Solo Circulo Un Solo Recorrido sells
for 26,000 pesos in Cartagena bookshops. ISBN
958-33-3140-6, 46 pages, illustrated with photographs
by Diana Tono and printed on brown recycled
paper, published by Editora Bolivar Ltda, Cartagena.
Posted by Glen David Short, 11 Feb 2002.
Glen David Short is a freelance writer based
in Cartagena. His new adventure travelogue, `An
Odd Odyssey: California to Colombia by bus and
boat' has just been published by Trafford
B A C K -
and Photos Copyright 2005 Glen David Short