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Eduardo Galeano

notes from my journal, June, 2009:

Our evening with Eduardo Galeano. He’s already standing in front of Checkers Hotel, taking in the street, when I arrive to pick him up. He is more stooped than when I saw him at Lannan fifteen years ago. Greyer. Up close he has a more complicated face than I imagined… wrinkles full of smiles around his eyes. He offers an embrace. Even in that walk to the back door of the green room, a mere half block away I am transported to the sidewalks of Montevideo because we are walking so slowly and he is telling me a story, about the airplane, about “being the ham in the sandwich” between two fat men on the flight from Philadelphia, about having to strip so many times for security. There is humor and wisdom in what he has to say. There is no hurrying him, either in the walking or in the talking.
On-stage... his story about the man in the café in Montevideo, a man who told the story of the civil war… about finding the dead angel on the battlefield with his arms outstretched. With the white headband on which was written FOR HER, and that’s where the bullet had entered. And he realized that the past could live again by bringing it into the present moment. He ended by speaking about Scheherezade, who knew above all the primary rule of the storyteller: "never to be boring." And when he reads to us in the darkened hall, the audience is mesmerized by his voice, by the images conjured with his vignettes—of the former slave holder in Virginia buried in an unmarked grave, of the muteness of walls, of the white men who “named” the features of the New World… “were the Indians blind? Where the Indians mute? Were the Indians deaf?” The Yoruba sculptors who sing while they work so that the song is in the sculpture. He tells me about a priest he met, a priest from Tijuana who made worked so hard to make the one and only library in Tijuana, when there are some seventy north of the border. Just one library. But it is there, it is open.
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