Dying alone…penniless…barren…single and unloved…and cursed by black magic in a past life by an angry acquaintance hopped up on moonshine.
This was my future, as recounted by Gonzalo; a self-confessed Colombian reincarnation of Jesus, currently holding my left hand tightly by the fingers and feverishly informing me of the cesspool of veritable excrement that was to be my future.
As his monotone voice droned in my ears, my mind wandered to the village of Challapampa:
To its dazzlingly blue waters and knife-sharp coves I had seen from hilltops the day before; the herds of sprinting pink piglets that would regularly cross my path…
…and the comfort of the woollen blanket I had woken up beneath that very morning, all ready to make the trek to Yumani in the south of Lake Titicaca’s La Isla del Sol.
It all seemed so far away. Especially as I had just been informed that my dry, crispy ovaries and I were to die a (possibly vehicle-related) death upon setting foot on dry land.
I had first seen a very sunburned and sadly-dressed Gonzalo atop his terrace after I’d arrived tired and hot from Challapampa on the north side of the island.
Our conversation started out innocently enough, boringly even:
“Do you speak Spanish?”
“Where are you from?”
“What do you think of the island?”
Before he uttered the clincher:
“I’m a healer.”
Not only a healer, but apparently a very jack-of-all-trades type, as suggested by the list outlining over 40 different techniques, decorated in feltpen on butcher’s paper at the building’s street level. And the set of A4 drawings outlining 22 Tarot images; death suspiciously holding position number 13.
“They’re not pornographic,” Gonzalo noted. (I hadn’t yet registered how scantily clad the Tarot subjects were.)
Even prior to having agreed to have my palm read, I had started to wonder how this day had taken such a plummeting nose-dive.
I was having a picnic lunch pre-palm reading with Gonzalo in his digs at Yumani, the village at the south of the island. He had provided a very unique fruit salad: A stirred mix of yoghurt, chocolate powder, apples, bananas and oats. His salteñas (similar to empanadas) also made an appearence, while I had run to a local shop for cheese.
He ate little, preferring instead to tell me his life’s story between spoonfuls of chocolate milk, while I picked at my cheese and ate another salteña at his behest.
Gonzalo (aka Jesus and Buddha’s) back story
Born in Colombia, Gonzalo had realised he had healing powers at the age of seven, a time when most kids were obsessed with much less other-worldly pursuits. Having realised that puberty had stripped him of these powers, he reacted by running away from home at the age of 13 and becoming a priest in a particular sect whose name I never did catch.
Returning to Bogotá as a bearded, 21-year-old virgin priest, he was quickly presented with potential wives by his younger brothers. His selection of a petite, blonde blue-eyed daughter of a capitalist gringo surprised no one: She was pretty, sweet and keen to follow him on his many money-making schemes. In their 14 years together, Gonzalo split his time between flitting off around the world working for petrol giants and operating the family’s many gyms in Colombia.
A secure and happy life of objects and possessions seemed to be in order.
But this was not to be the end of the story. Somehow tickled by the fancy that the Anden region and everything about it were indeed the new black, Gonzalo was one day roused by the notion that God had bade him go to Bolivia, where he was to wait to hear his mission. And so, his wife was informed that he was off and a’scootin’ away to another land, and that she should sit tight, manage their gyms wait for news. News of whether they were to remain together, or separate.
To separate was indeed the outcome. God had decreed him a non-petroleum-based celibate life in Bolivia. The missus was informed of his decision over the phone and left with the gyms and a large wad of cash while our character puffed off on a motorbike for La Paz, where he spent 12 years reading palms and healing on street corners before moving to this jagged little island in the middle of one of the world’s largest lakes. A beautiful place to stay, and to heal passing travellers of afflictions they may not even know they had.
And so it was that on this afternoon I had found Gonzalo (a prophet of the Lord) without patients, and looking for one with a lot of patience to hear the word.
“I’m glad God sent you today. I was in need of someone like you.”
Over the course of the afternoon, Gonzalo’s verbal haemorrhage asked me to accept the factual correctness of such a mind-blowing labyrinth of contradicting doctrine that Jehovah, Allah and the guy who started the Mormons were surely turning in their respective graves.
A melting pot of the Church, Zodiac, Atlantis and Cyclops…
Not only was Christianity the way and the light, but the Zodiac was a valid source of instruction. In addition, the intricacies of the beliefs of Jehovah’s Witness was to be held in high regard: 144 000 people would be saved after the great earthquake, whose epicentre was scheduled to occur on this very island on which we stood chatting over chunks of salty cheese. Atlantis had indeed existed, and several other cities had been lost beneath the crashing waves of time, including one in Lake Titicaca, where the marble column-like replicas of men and women 2.5m tall provided support. This once average human height was not to be marvelled at however, as when the human race had been Cyclops, we had once easily measured up to 4m high: This is also the point in history when we lost our third eye, not only accessible to a privileged few whose spiritual frequency was tuned just right. The last Cyclops had died in the 1950s (curiously unreported by world press).
At this point, my head was spinning so dizzily that I barely had time to register when Gonzalo admitted to being the simultaneous (and surely difficult to execute) reincarnation of both Buddah and Jesus: An interesting threesome at best, and selfish hogging of some of history’s most prolific figures at worst. His tales of how his jokester cousin John (of The Baptist variety) had purposely “forgotten” he was christening Jesus, holding his head under water a few seconds too long during the rite brought actual tears of mirth and nostalgia to his eyes. Later, his recalling of the last supper and Judas’ betrayal brought hot ones of anger. Until finally, a glimmer of a little summat-summat broke through his previously tear-stained eyes; remembering how post resurrection but pre ascension, Jesus had taught Mary Magdalene, John, Peter and Paul about the joys of fornication.
Somewhere around this point I was interrogated as to whether I wanted to ever have kids or get married. Believing myself to be only distantly amused by his banter, I answered his questions honestly and agreed to have my palm and cards read for free.
What I really wanted was to get out of there and fall asleep, as the sun stroke I was quickly developing was threatening to start a summer party all over my mind and body.
Maybe agreeing would get me out of there faster?
“Ya, está bien.”
What did I have to lose?
(To be continued…)