Updated: Dec 22, 2020
Fuentes When Jeremy went missing in the valley, Professor Fuentes was the first person Ulises and the others called. After all, Fuentes was the liaison with Leeds University and though no one trusted his judgement they agreed that it was his responsibility to find the gringo. Twenty hours had passed since he left Pacho’s garden to take a leak and was nowhere to be seen. The group had been too stoned and pissed during the night to take account of his disappearance but in the morning a wave of panic spread across the house as they realised Jeremy had not slept in the bunk bed Pacho prepared for him. A search party surveyed the surrounding habitat to no avail. They had even skipped lunch to pursue Jeremy’s whereabouts and though none of them were expert trackers, not even Pacho, they agreed that the gringo had abandoned the pedestrianised path and precipitated himself into the wild. Not that the valley was particularly dangerous; there were no deadly Amazonian animals nor poisonous snakes. Still it was not the ideal place to spend the night alone, especially if you were a Gringo. Ulises recreated all kinds of horrendously bloody scenarios in his head. He was prone to anxiety and exaggeration when it came to fear and fatal outcomes. He was used to funnelling terror in his imagination and suffered the destructive energies of fear reserved for biological self-preservation He imagined remnants of right-wing militia groups of the Pinochet era might have kidnapped him in account of his Englishness. He thought the milicos could have taken him for interrogation and torture. His other hypothesis were that intoxicated hippies had sacrificed him in an ancient pagan ritual or that bandits had robbed him and left him naked to die in the woods. The alarm bells were ringing when they found Jeremy’s clothes on top of a rock a couple of kilometres from the house. Ulises thought reality had proven his maddened suppositions. Miguel who had laughed Ulises suppositions off started to worry too. He knew the gringo was an unpredictable romantic mess but why would he take off his clothes and walk into the night? He did not know him well but the whole scene seemed improbable and absurd. Pacho asked the group if anyone had given him peyote or any other hallucinogenic substance but they all agreed he had just smoked a couple of tokes from a marihuana joint. Hardly enough to drive anyone insane. What the hell had happened? Fuentes arrived at 10 pm at night with a bottle of pisco in one hand and a plastic bag full of cigarette boxes in the other.
-A ver! What the hell is the matter here?!
When the students explained the scenario Fuentes laughed and narrated a time when a friend of his had disappeared for five days only to reappear holding hands with a German anthropologist who he said he had married in an ancient ritual carried out by the descendants of Aymara royalty. Fuentes said it was the first homosexual marriage in Native Indian history. Ulises and the students did not find it funny.
-Listen –said Fuentes –all we have to do is drink pisco and wait for the boy to come back. It happens all the time in the Valley. Gringos coming here to lose themselves. They have not seen war and have read too much Paolo Coehlo and think there is a relationship between burying the compass under the chucha stars and opening the third eye. It’s all mierda. Gringos are bananas. That Brazilian charlatan lives in a fifty-room mansion in Switzerland whilst the idiotas buy his book and come here to speak to the trees un