We were a small band of psychonauts, explorers of unintended spaces, out to the Mina Es—a mine of clay soil we had named after the last letter of each of our last names. Ivan, Omar, Milton, Macoy, Ricardo, Pío and Toño. Our last names ending with the sound of es. Not enough money or food at home to make sandwiches or any kind of meal. Only salt, we would take with us. On the way, we could cut lemons to suck with the salt, our provisions for the journey. Sometimes, if someone had a cent, we could buy the refuse of the mango twist from Doña Evelia. She had a machine where a green mango was stripped into long delicious spaghetti-like strips and mixed in a clear plastic bag with lemon, salt, algüaishte and chile. Quite the mouth-watering 25 cents delicacy! So far from our budget, but not the peel of the mango. They discarded the green peel of the mango, and that we could buy in bigger bags for only 1 cent!
And so, armed with provisions and hand made sling shots, we went in our way to the Mina Es. On our way there, we went through ravines and hills, tunnels and shanti towns built on cardboard houses. We visited the abandoned medicine classrooms of the University long ago taken apart and abandoned by the armed forces. We would see the big pig inside a corral, maintained by some unknown caretaker in the deserted department of agriculture. The pigs’ huge testicles protruding behind his legs, each one the size of a soccer ball from some magic or science of the frustrated dreams of some students turned guerrilla fighters.
We went through so many worlds and adventures, running from guard dogs and ignoring the strays, guided by birds and playing with familiar spirits. We went following the maps in our heads, until we found ourselves in a field of golden brown clay, from where we supplied our bags, making room by eating the lemons and salt—or the refuse of the mango twist, if we had scored earlier. We took our loot back, to make cups and plates and strange gods out of the clay: also leaves and toys, little people and trees. And on our way back we would always take a different route. We came to the Mina Es by way of the forgotten passages of Zacamil and Mejicanos, but we returned home through other stranger passages not of this world. We voyaged through uncharted passages of forgotten worlds, using words and stories of long ago, forgotten as the race of people who once inhabited these lands was itself forgotten. We allowed the perceptions of these long ago impressions and sensations, not delegated to hints and adumbrations behind flickering shadows of the unconscious, to come out and guide us on our way back.
Thus we searched for strange maps; maps which described not physical properties of the known world but the shadow world. Waded not through accepted history, but through recurring mythology. We sought the stories of the old ones. We recorded the lies told in prisons and mental institutions. We were guided at times by the sexual fantasies of the dangerously deviant.
Walking from dream to dream, recording every distortion: shadows that move within a blink, the dissolution of the world as we fall asleep, the dissolution of time as we begin to wake up.
Those became our stepping-stones.
Yes, madness. Those were the definitions of our maps for a long, long time: lies, distortions, inaccuracies, old-wives tales, intentional lies, honest beliefs, and entertaining mythologies.
Songs and dreams! They created a vast wasteland, a desert made of thoughts. We started to chart the territories where this sand of mind-stuff had congealed into miles and miles of glass, forming cities—illusory cities made not of glass itself but of the reflection of the moon upon the glass.
Photography by Sharla Sanchez