A father/daughter journey into the Amazon. I have always been haunted by my great great grandfather Arthur Sinclair. These podcasts are the story of a journey to the Peruvian Amazon with my father, retracing Arthur's steps and his expedition of 1891. This journey inspired Iain Sinclair's book, "The Gold Machine" and Grant Gee's film of the same name. These are the conversations we had along the way, with each other and those we met, as we discovered the forgotten legacy of the British Peruvian Corporation, and heard first hand from the Asheninka tribes who live there still. Sometimes the past is a place you can visit. First episode to be uploaded on 2nd September. Edited by Anonymous Bosch
Episode 1 Lima to Huancayo
Episode 1 Lima to Huancayo
The journey begins in Lima, looking for traces of Arthur in the Peruvian capital.
On their first morning Iain and Farne have breakfast and try to orientate themselves in the Liman fog, and discuss their first impressions. They head out to look for the Explorer’s club, and Pizarro’s remains in the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas.
Early the next day they take a train over the Andes, one of the highest railway journeys in the world reaching a dizzying altitude of 15,000 feet. The railway was still being built in Arthur’s day and he had to make his journey by mule.
That night they arrive in Huancayo to try and make contact with their guide Lucho.
Episode 2 Huancayo to La Oroya
Farne is struck down with altitude sickness, and has to rest in the hotel thinking about her family back home, while Iain heads off with Lucho to the markets and the Ocopa Monastery which was the base for the Catholic missionaries. Iain gets caught up in the San Pedro festivities.
By the next day Farne has recovered and they negotiate a car to take them back up to Arthur’s mule route and to La Oroya, one of the worst polluted places on earth.
Iain and Farne talk to Grant Gee, the film maker travelling with them, about his inspiration for making “The Gold Machine”.
Iain is reminded of the South Wales of his childhood in the 1950’s, in the era of coal mining and tin smelting.
By nightfall they have reached Tarma, and spend the night in the Hacienda Santa Maria.
Episode 3 Tarma - in the Hacienda Garden
Farne and Iain sit in the peaceful gardens of the Hacienda in Tarma before they set off on the next stage of their journey. Arthur, as a botanist, had enjoyed the climate and plants here while resting for a couple of days, and felt at home here.
They meditate on their upcoming stay with the Asheninka tribes and how they will be received.
Iain thinks about the storytelling tradition of his Welsh background, and his family stories. His father’s experience of being a doctor in Wales, being part of a mining community and how as a child he used to play on the slag heaps in Maesteg, in a post-industrial landscape.
They wonder where Arthur’s family was in his accounts of his travels, what family stories are remembered, and which ones are missing.
Episode 4 Acobamba to San Luis de Shuaro
The descent down to the jungle begins. Iain and Farne follow Arthur’s mule route down through Acobamba to search for the Convent of San Luis de Shuaro where Arthur’s expedition had letters of introduction to the Catholic Priest, Padre Sala.
A number of coincidences convince them they are on the right track, and it feels like they have been expected. An elderly lady sitting in the town square, Maria Leon Perez, turns out to be an old friend of Lucho’s father, and she agrees to talk to them, telling them more about San Luis, Padre Sala, and the activities of the Catholic church.
They are able to go into the church itself and stand on the foundations of the original convent where Arthur had slept.
That night they make it to Lucho’s Farm in the cloud forest, and reflect on the strange events of the day, and how a mysterious old lady will always appear to help you when you need it most, if you can put yourself in the right place at the right time.
Episode 5 Lucho's Farm to the Mountain of Salt
Farne and Iain leave Arthur at the convent making preparations for his journey and take a detour to Lucho’s farm. As they plan the next stage of their journey, Lucho tells them the story of how he came to acquire his land, and gives them some clues to how land is bargained for in Peru, and what ownership means to the Asheninka.
Arthur sets off again with 14 people and 20 mules, and Farne and Iain are also on their way to find the mysteriously named Mountain of Salt, when events take a curious turn with misunderstandings and hidden agendas. Lucho takes off and they are left lodging in a half- abandoned hotel, wondering where he has gone.
As they sit outside in darkness, they contemplate how things are becoming stranger the lower they descend and they are joined by a few family ghosts.
Episode 6 Pampa Michi and Marankiari with the Asheninka
Joined by a small family of Asheninka translators, Farne and Iain drive along the banks of the River Perene to the village of Pampa Michi, amongst the tourist welcome, they persuade the chief Fredi Miguel Ucayali to be interviewed. His is a sobering account of the Peru Corporation’s takeover of these lands which is shocking to hear first-hand.
In Marankiari they stay with the Asheninka for a few days and feel they get a bit closer to life behind the scenes of the village, they talk to Berta Rodriguez, the mother of the chief, who at 80 years old can remember the old Asheninka beliefs.
They celebrate Farne’s birthday with the tribe, and share photographs of King Chokery and his Queen, and suddenly the pictures come alive with meaning.
The chief Osbaldo Rodriguez is able to shed some light on events from the past, and in return they are able to share copies of the original land contract.
Iain and Farne make it to the border town of Pichinaki to mull over events, and consider whether to travel on into the Whirlpool of the Dead.