Friday, April 11, 2008

the relativity of time

There had been much talk and excitement for days on end in Cusco about an impending Copa Libertadores (the South American equivalent of the UEFA Champions League) game between the home team, Cienciano, and visiting Brazilian giants Flamengo from Rio de Janeiro. The game happened to be on the day that we came back from the Choquequirao trek. We blew a whole 20 Soles ($7) each on tickets from scalpers, only to find out that closer to the stadium they went for 10 Soles, but one has to stimulate the local economy. Prices vary by location here in Peru. The further along one walks, the more the price (of anything) drops.

Cienciano dominated the first half; not particularly because of any quality of their play, but because of absence of any participation by Flamengo, who might have been hampered by the altitude. The Cienciano stadium is after all at 3300 metres above sea level. In the second half Flamengo poked in two goals as the Cienciano defense was increasingly caught unaware. We exited the stadium just before added time, thus missing Flamengo´s third goal. But despair not for all is not lost: according to my reckoning Cienciano can still make it to the next round if they beat Nacional of Montevideo the next game.

Cienciano (in red) vs. Flamengo

Sitting in a taxi on the way to Cusco airport the next day I jogged down the following notes...

The late great Dutch author, intellectual, and humorist Godfried Bomans once answered a question about how it is that time seems to go by faster and faster as we get older. His theory is that a child´s life consists of many new things every day. As an adult we rely more and more on routine, which makes the days seem all the same. He points out: have you ever noticed how, when you go on a holiday, you suddenly realize to your surprise that it was only two days ago that you were at home? It seems much longer ago than that. Why is that? That´s because those two days were filled with new impressions and new activities. You have lived those two days as a child. The key, then, to a long life is to seek new things, or new ways of doing familiar things. Routine is the enemy of long life.

It is indeed astonishing to realize that I was home just last week. It seems forever since I left. Sitting in a small taxi hurtling down a patchy road, relying on constant honking to cause pedestrians and animals to jump aside at the last second, seeing the brown clay buildings contrasted by the colourful garments, this is indeed another world. I´m savouring this. The days are eternities.

By the way, the cab ride costs 3 Sols. That´s about $1. Back in the US you´ve already spent three times that much just stepping into the vehicle. And you don´t have nearly as much fun.

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