from Ryszard Kapuściński’s The Soccer War

Describe the old Indian in the Mexican desert. I was driving along in a car and far off I spotted something that looked like an Indian hat lying on the sand. I stopped and walked towards it. Under the hat sat an Indian in a shallow hole that he had dug in the sand to protect himself from the wind. In front of him stood a wooden gramophone with a shabby, bashed-in megaphone. The old man was turning the crank the whole time and playing one record–he had only one record–which was so worn out that the grooves were barely there. From the tube issued a hoarse roar, crackling and the disordered tatters of a Latin American song: Rio Manzanares dejume pasar (Rio Manzanares, let me cross). Even though I had greeted him and stood in front of him for a long time, the old man paid no attention to me. ‘Papa,’ I finally shouted, ‘there is no river here.’

He kept quiet. Then, after a while, he replied, ‘Son, I am the river and I can’t cross myself.’ He said nothing more, but kept turning the crank and listening to the record.

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