I’m not sure if it was right but … in the morning it didn’t feel as if Jacob wanted to talk more about what happened. But it didn’t feel as if he wanted to be alone either. It just felt like he wanted us to go.
So we went, down to the beach where we bought a ticket for one of the crammed boats that would take us out into the endless blue depths of the Lake Titicaca, out to the Island of the Sun.
And after searching for a few inches of space in one of them, to sit down, we do just that. We go somewhere. But first we sit – for a long time. We don’t talk about anything. We just sit, in the boat, and try to ignore some slight edge of anxiousness that’s in the air. Like we’re not going anywhere really. Just waiting. But not knowing for what.
After half an hour or so my mind begins to wander. I begin to look too much at the roofed pram they’ve stoked us into.
“Uh, – there aren’t enough life-jackets on this boat, are there?”
“Hm – isn’t there?” he mumbles.
“No. And have you seen how many passengers we are? If something happens – ”
“I don’t think anything will happen.”
“I absolutely hate the idea of falling into that lake. It’s probably freezing.”
“Are you afraid you can’t swim to shore?”
I stand up. “I’m afraid I can’t get out of this sardine can if everybody panics. Maybe we should go outside, get up on the roof?”
“What about our backpacks?”
“Who’s going to run away with them – on a boat?”
“I prefer staying down here. You go up if you want to.”
“Are you afraid of the sun?”
“Ah – I think that you don’t have faith in my super-suuuunscreen?”
I wave the bottle in front of his nose and he laughs. For the first time since the night. I suddenly feel grateful. After a few seconds it’s over, but something seems to be more alight in him now than just before:
“Maybe faith is something you have when you have to have it,” Jacob remarks quietly, and then looks directly at me: “So why do I want to have it and why don’t you seem to want to have it?”
“I … want it to have it.”
“Really? What about everything David Bohm writes about – one of the most esteemed physicists of the 20th century? Wasn’t it just ‘New Agey-wish thinking’?”
“I don’t know. I just can’t … ”
I sit down again. With something resembling a sigh I try to explain in the best way I can. He’s not going to go away and I chose to say with him so I guess I owe him that much:
“Look … rational arguments based on some quantum-something that I don’t know much about – they don’t work for me. One thing I do know about quantum physics is that you can interpret it in a million different ways. Just because two particles seem to be connected beyond the speed of light or because the egg-heads can’t agree if an electron is a particle or a wave or a bit of both … why should that mean that something like ‘God’ exists? That’s a real big leap. And so it just doesn’t work for me. It just makes everything more doubtful.”
He looks as if he’s about to say something, but then he stops himself.
“And – ” I say, some feeling of finality sweeping over me “ – I don’t feel that I can believe either, just with faith, like so many of these people seem to be able to … ”
I nod towards the five locals who seem to have decided to clump together in one end of the boat, putting up some invisible wall between themselves and the Babylonian buzz of us tourists. They discuss something in their own language, not Spanish – some indigenous language. Probably something about crops. Or fish. Something sufficiently concrete, no doubt.
And when they need to be helped by that which is not concrete, they’ll go to the cathedral and get their car blessed. How difficult can life be?
“Did you lose someone, too?” Jacob suddenly asks.
He looks down, briefly.
“I’m sorry. Family?”
“I’m really sorry.”
“Don’t say that – I’m just being selfish now. We shouldn’t be talking about me.”
“Why? Wasn’t it a good friend?”
“My dearest friend … ”
“And Levi was my dearest brother – and my only brother. So stop saying that. You are not selfish.”
“Then why do I feel that way?”
“You are a nice person, Carrie. I wish … you’d come to Israel once. I could show you my country. It is a beautiful country.”
“I’d like to go … I don’t think the time is right, though. And I’ve blown what little money I had on this trip.”
“Because I believe that … it’s necessary. I have to see that island. It meant something to her.”
“To your friend?”
He nods, slowly:
“I couldn’t afford going either – and I had to borrow some money from my uncle. My father was furious. But I wanted to go. Before – ”
I touch his hand lightly.
“So we both have to go – without enough lifebelts.”
For a long time we just sit and listen to the drone of the engine and the chatter of our fellow travelers; all excited, eager, looking forward to seeing the island where the sun was born.
Part of the ‘journey of a lifetime’. The myth and legends of the Andes …
“Have you noticed – ” Jacob suddenly says “ – how the water looks as if its sprinkled with diamonds?”
I turn around, peak out the window of the cabin.
“Why I – oh, my – it is beautiful … ”
“The Incas saw this place and knew that this was where the Sun was born,” Jacob adds, “ – or at least that’s what I read in the guidebook. I didn’t know much about Incas before I bought my Lonely Planet.”
“Neither did I,” I affirm, squinting my eyes against the sun.
All around us: The profound azure blue of the Lake dotted with thousands and thousands of small, star like diamonds – and I had been so busy thinking about … everything. I hadn’t even noticed it, and we’ve sailed what? An hour…? At least.
“It’s the high noon sun,” Jacob notes quietly. “And we’re in way up in the mountains – not a cloud on the sky. So in a way the lake is almost close enough to touch the sun. It looks that way, doesn’t it?”
“It’s more … it’s so beautiful,” I just repeat, at a loss for words again. “I wish I could take a photo, but with my old camera it’ll probably end up like shit.”
“Better just to watch it then … ” Jacob says. “Maybe it’s always better to try to experience the most beautiful things in life directly… ”
And so we try.
* * If you have corrections of grammar or language, please holler - at Christopher Marcus - here: beyourstory AT gmail DOT com. This story is copyright Christopher Marcus, All Rights Reserved. It is published under a Creative Commons License. You may copy and distribute it if you attribute it to the author, don't change it and don't make money from it. * * *