Karnawał na wulkanie

by: Olgierd Budrewicz

May 05, 2024

After a short break I’ve read another non-fiction book. I found an old one, from early 70’s. It’s a record of the author’s travel around Latin and South American countries.

Reading the author’s memories from 50 years ago gives a completely different perspective on what the reality was like at that time. The lack of technology, cell phones or the Internet made traveling to this part of the world much more exotic and dangerous than it is today.

What I really appreciate in such books is telling several threads at the same time. These are descriptions of the author’s experiences, the interwoven history of a given country or region, and descriptions of local specifics, e.g. the current political situation or social problems. The author expands these elements with one additional thread. He was looking for traces of Polish immigrants and their activities in this region of the world. As it turned out, in many South American countries you can find many Poles who, for various reasons, found their home thousands of kilometers from their homeland. What I remember most is the story of an architect (Ryszard de Jaxa Małachowski) who turned out to be one of the main builders of the capital of Peru.

The reportage shows a rather gloomy picture of Latin American countries. This is even more worrying to me because more than 50 years have passed since the book was published and the situation in this part of the world has not changed for much better. The times of bloody dictators are over, but corruption, general poverty and instability remain.