vrijdag 5 december 2014

Peter Matthiessen -- 5 december 1959

Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014) was een Amerikaanse schrijver. Hij maakte een lange reis door Zuid-Amerika, waarvan hij verslag deed in The Cloud Forest (1961).

December 5-7. Barbados.
The island of Barbados, where the ship called for three days after our departure from Saint Lucia and before proceed-ing to Saint Vincent, lies one hundred miles or so out to the eastward of the Windward ïslands. Like Bermuda—and unlike the Windwards, which are peaks of a submerged mountain range—it is a true oceanic island, surrounded by a fringing reef of coral, and more or less unrelated, geologically, to the mainland. ïts countryside, patched by canefields, is low and rolling for the most part, with small spare farm communities and pretty churches and roadside trees bent permanently by the trades. When the sea drops out of sight, the landscape brings to mind certain areas in our Plains States, the sugarcane muls standing up out of dry distances like grain elevators in North Dakota, say, on a long, blue aftemoon of summer.

December 10. Trinidad.
Arrived in Port-of-Spain last night, coming south from Grenada through the cut between Trinidad and the Paria Penin-sula of Venezuela, known as the Dragon's Mouth. A gray day, the first in a long time, and rather welcome. The anchorage is wide, with boats in black sühouette littered out across the dull sheen of it as far as the eye can see. This is not very far today. Laughing gulls, winging up and down.
lts name, Port-of-Spain, is the prettiest aspect of this great dirty town which, according to the port pilot, sees more shipping tonnage come and go than Liverpool. It has a kind of tarnished modernity about it, a fly-by-night air, like an abandoned fair invaded by a pack of gypsies, and it has that terrible sweet smell eommon to all towns in these latitudes, one which I've found impossible to track down. The smell has now invaded the ship itself, like some sort of pervasive melancholia; it loiters in the vicinity of the galley. Fm told that the island of Trinidad is beautiful and am quite ready to believe it, but I have a very poor impression of its capital. It seems appropriate that, throughout this long listless day, a squadron of vultures swept up and down on the city's damp, stagnant airs.
The name of the place, as I recall from the days when I collected stamps, is actually Trinidad-and-Tobago. The latter is a much smaller island off to the northeast, and, having rounded the cape to the north again, we left it astem at eight a.m. the following morning, headed southeast for Georgetown, British Guiana. We are ofï the many mouths of the Orinoco, and the water is discolored. A frigate bird, a distant booby, and two black-backed, white-bellied shearwaters, unidentifiable—conceivably the lost diablotin, but in all probability Audubon's shearwater.

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