A man asked me to cup my hands and I obliged. He dropped a handful of coca leaves into them and told me to be careful since it is good luck to make sure that none of the leaves fall. He explained to me that the petiole needs to be cut off and discarded before the leaf is placed between one’s gum and cheek. He then took a leaf, broke off a piece of ilucta, or ash of the quinoa plant, and placed it in its center before he folded it, gave it to me, and explained that this serves to activate or catalyze the effects of the leaf. For fifteen or twenty minutes now I have been slowly increasing the mound in my mouth and there still remain some leaves not yet involved in the compilation made grotesque by the effects of saliva.
Who can convince me that what I am doing is bad? And yet if I were to be found bringing these objectively beneficial leaves to the states, I would be branded a greater criminal than I presently am. Aside from the evident stimulation, which in itself is barely mild, there are advantages to be gained from the minerals and vitamins to be found in these leaves—these advantages must be why the leaves are unacceptable in a country where man is not allowed advantage unless it comes at a heavy, disadvantageous cost.
I spent the day, or a good part of it, applying for jobs in various institutes that provide those interested with the opportunity to learn English. A pathetic little baby blue bike served as my mount as I went from one place to another—I only visited four and applied to two—in search of a job that will allow me the means to work as I need to if I am to if I am to remain content and satisfied with myself. It has long become a dependency: if I do not write for some days, if I let an idea sit still for too long, life begins to lose the pleasant taste that characterizes it now; the pleasant taste I have grown far too acclimated to for its absence to be even slightly tolerable. I can almost hear the cruel laughter of fate and its design which bids the artist to hold a petty job just so that he may continue with his work.
I do not know if I will find a job here and I truly believe that I do not care if I do. It would be ideal in the material sense to remain here, but I would not be devastated if I find it were impossible to do so. I am willing to spend another two hundred and thirty soles here before I find a job; if I find nothing by the time that sum is expended, I will move along because if I am to run out of money, I would sooner see as much as I can first. I have moved into a tent to stretch out the time that the sum I am allowing for myself lasts and I am excited to see what comes from the coming days. But to this too I am indifferent because whether I am here or there, I will have pen and paper with me. But to that too I am indifferent because my mind is fixated, mad with the absolute certainty that there is something for me to glean from the sixth string quartet of Mendelssohn.
Well that must be nonsense since I have already gleaned, but it is a matter of translating what I have to what it stands to become. This obsession is detaching me from nearly everything and although I feel I can at any moment cast it all into the abyss, I refuse to do so. ‘Have you considered that there may be nothing but your own delusion?’ asks the devil himself only to be dismayed when I answer without flinching that yes, I have considered it, but I will still yet scrutinize further because I am sure that the man who stares for long enough sees precisely what is there; if there is nothing, I will pay for my mistake by staring until I can do so no longer.
It may come to be that even the obscure yet undeniable figure before me now may disappear in which case, I will turn away for one can only hear what one is told. I feel more interested in what comes out of this fixation than what awaits me in this trip which may last another week with the same ease that may have it last for a year. This must be the cross designed for men who value ideas more than the world to bear, but I have lifted heavier things than this; I would ask for more, that it may form a larger fire than it could fuel now.